Here’s What It’s Like To Navigate Relationships When You Have Complex PTSD

When Emily Durant not her real name was eight, her relationship with her mother began to deteriorate. Her once-caring mother suddenly stopped doing dishes, taking out the trash, or even putting trash into the trashcan. Dirty plates piled up in the sink, and then all around the kitchen. By the time eight-year-old Emily realized she had to be the one to clean up, flies and maggots had invaded their kitchen. An only child living alone with her mother, Emily told me she would come home from school every day to find the living room floor covered with new trash and dirty dishes. If Emily didn’t pick them up, that’s where they stayed. If she didn’t do the laundry, there were no clean clothes. If she didn’t heat up microwave dinners, they didn’t eat. The first few times Emily asked for help, she says her mother called her lazy, stupid, and worthless.

Complex PTSD and Intimacy: We Rush In, and Then This Happens… | ACEsConnection

As I have discussed in other articles , Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder C- PTSD is a unique condition that is the result of suffering a series of traumatic incidents over a long period of time at the hands of someone the victim has a dependent relationship with, usually a parent or other primary caregiver. However, it also has many unique features, which give it a dual nature, in some ways more similar to some personality disorders, or other disorders such as bipolar disorder, with which it is often confused.

In my work with clients who suffer from C-PTSD, I am frequently struck with how difficult it is for them to lead fulfilling lives. It is one thing to analyze symptoms like dissociation, emotional dysregulation, depression , or anxiety , but another to appreciate how they interfere with the life of C-PTSD victims on a daily basis. One of the most tragic ways that plays out is the way that C-PTSD makes it difficult for sufferers to form and sustain strong and fulfilling interpersonal relationships.

Well, C-PTSD. It’s basically the same except it’s not from just one thing, it’s from lots of things, or like being in a difficult situation for a long time.

Relationships are hard, period. But for people who’ve experienced chronic trauma, it can be a real process to relearn what makes a relationship healthy and sustainable. Living through childhood neglect, domestic violence, sex trafficking, being a prisoner of war, and living in a war-affected region can all cause C-PTSD. While C-PTSD is not recognized by the DSM as its own unique diagnosis, a study in the journal Borderline Personality Disorder and Emotional Disregulation has recognized the connections between chronic trauma , affective disorders , and diagnoses like borderline personality disorder BPD.

According to Dr. C-PTSD impacts all kinds of relationships in all kinds of ways. It can make trust especially hard to build when you’re first dating a new person, or expose you to inadvertent re-traumatization each time you and your partner of five years get into a fight. It even includes being able to handle constructive critique from supervisors , because those are relationships, too!

PTSD Dating

There are hurdles to jump and bullets to dodge. The risks are often greater than the payoff. They can be scary and daunting, and sometimes literally hurt.

Please enter a dating email address. With someone with complex PTSD is dating easy task. But by ptsd why with difference between traditional and complex.

Millions of readers rely on HelpGuide for free, evidence-based resources to understand and navigate mental health challenges. Please donate today to help us protect, support, and save lives. PTSD can take a heavy toll on relationships. The symptoms of PTSD can also lead to job loss, substance abuse, and other problems that affect the whole family. In fact, trauma experts believe that face-to-face support from others is the most important factor in PTSD recovery.

It can be very difficult for people with PTSD to talk about their traumatic experiences. For some, it can even make them feel worse.

Dating someone with complex ptsd

It’s important to military safe in your home. If you’re dating someone with PTSD, let them know you won’t abandon them. Show them they can trust you with their emotions.

(). The ISTSS. Expert Consensus Treatment Guidelines for Complex PTSD in Adults.. Retrieved from http:// [.

I could only nod. Without another word, my partner put on Steven Universe — my go-to show, having watched every episode at least three or four times, its familiarity and charm never failing to calm me down. And I breathed slowly and deeply as I was lulled back into a sense of calm, my partner sitting quietly beside me. When my therapist told me that he believed I was strugglin g with C-PTSD , countless pieces of the puzzle rapidly clicked into place for me.

The flashbacks, the fear of abandonment, the hypervigilance , the distrust, the dissociation, the deep and abiding emotional pain that I could swear I was born with — with one diagnosis, al l of it seemed to make so much more sense. Many culturally competent clinicians and survivor s alike extend this framework to include the oppression that marginalized folks face, which can so often be traumatic. My understanding of C-PTSD is largely influenced by the work of Pete Walker , a psychotherapist and survivor of complex trauma, whose words and affirmations helped bolster my own recovery his book on complex trauma in childhood is a must-read.

What does your loved one find helpful?

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Meet the Board Contact Us. Complex PTSD comes in response to chronic traumatization over the course of months or, more often, years. While there are exceptional circumstances where adults develop C-PTSD, it is most often seen in those whose trauma occurred in childhood.

One reason people with Childhood PTSD (or Complex PTSD) so often have a hard time in relationships is “DWD” — Dating While Dysregulated.

Dating someone with complex PTSD is no easy task. But by understanding why the difference between traditional and complex PTSD matters and addressing PTSD-specific problems with treatment , you and your loved one will learn what it takes to move forward together and turn your relationship roadblocks into positive, lifelong learning experiences.

Being in a relationship means being open with your partner and sharing life experiences, both the good and the bad. And when it comes to complex PTSD, it is likely influencing the way that your partner perceives the world—and your relationship—in a negative way. But in truth, guiding your loved one in the direction of residential treatment can pave the way to so much more. Through professional guidance and support, both you and your partner can learn how to deal with the unique challenges of PTSD in the context of a relationship and use them to drive personal growth.

Traumatic events are never easy, and the coping period after a traumatic experience is painful and difficult. Both our bodies and minds try to regain their balance as we attempt to move forward and continue our lives.

Post-traumatic stress disorder

While, as noted by Dr. James Phillips in Psychiatric Times , the “DSM-5 has hinted at symptoms of complex PTSD, but in the end has left them out of the manual,” increasing acceptance of this diagnosis is seen by many behavioral scientists and mental health practitioners as a significant step forward in recognizing the traumatic causes of problems that often look like, and may be mistaken for, personality disorders and relationship dysfunction. As defined in the ICD

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be caused by any severe and long-term trauma, including childhood abuse or domestic violence.

Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Guilbeault. Most people have heard the term post-traumatic stress disorder, commonly called PTSD. In fact, many people know someone who suffers from the disorder. When most people hear the words post-traumatic stress disorder, they often associate it with military veterans who have experienced exposure to war or to someone who may have been the victim of a violent physical or sexual attack.

Post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD is an emotional response that occurs in people who have experienced a traumatic event and who are experiencing long-term effects of the trauma. PTSD is characterized by intense disturbance in the thoughts and feelings related to the trauma. PTSD is typically associated with exposure to one traumatic event.

If the trauma is repeated or happens for a prolonged period of time, causing the person to feel there is no escape, they may develop a more severe form of post-traumatic stress disorder known as Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder C-PTSD. Like PTSD, complex PTSD may be caused by experiencing childhood neglect or abuse, being the victim of domestic violence or of human trafficking, experiencing long-term homelessness or extreme poverty, or living in an area that is affected by war. While the symptoms are like those of post-traumatic stress disorder, the repeated or prolonged exposure to trauma that sufferers experience often results in more extreme complex PTSD symptoms.

We Can Help. The condition often occurs as a comorbidity to other disorders, which means it may exist at the same time as other disorders. Addiction, anxiety, depression and eating disorders are a few examples of possible comorbid diagnoses a person with complex post-traumatic stress disorder may experience.

Intimacy After Trauma