My forum name is Kizzie and I started Out of the Storm (OOTS) in August 2014 after after learning in 2013 that between being raised in a family who suffered from alcoholism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I had developed Complex Post Traumatic Personality Disorder and that I, or at least parts of me, had been stuck in trauma time for most of my life.
I came from a middle class family which for all intents and purposes looked normal - nicely kept house, participated in the community, took vacations ... However, things were not the same behind closed doors. You see my father was a (high functioning) alcoholic and tension and fear were pervasive in my family. For the longest time I thought it was his addiction that was ground zero for my family's problems. We walked on eggshells, trying to please, be quiet, reading the moods of my parents for any danger throughout childhood. Friday nights were the worst because my father would stumble home drunk, followed by silent but oh so palpable anger on my mother's part for the rest of the weekend. Wash, rinse, repeat, the cycle continued.
In my twenties, plagued by depression and anxiety I sought the help of a therapist,. I also started attending an Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA) group. Both helped me to understand what addiction does to a family, and that in mine I was the Scapegoat and Lost Child, my brother the Golden Child, and my mother the Enabler. Even knowing this, however, I was still constantly anxious and depressed. Eventually I was diagnosed with chronic depression and prescribed Prozac which I stayed on for decades and saw therapists off and on. Not much shifted internally. I knew that my family was dysfunctional but inside I felt like I had endured something much more sinister and damaging, life threatening almost. Was I simply being too sensitive? I had these times when I felt like the very ground beneath my feet tilted sideways, and I was caught in a whirling vortex of anxiety and fear. Was I going crazy?
I survived for almost three decades with the strong side showing outwardly, and the fractured, frightened side hidden until in 2013 a number of things happened that led me to look for those missing pieces in earnest. I was in my fifties by then and my symptoms had worsened in part due to menopause, but other stresses as well including a battle against Ovarian Cancer, my child heading off to university, and the death of my father. I knew (hoped?) there had to be more to my story after decades of therapy and being on an SSRI and still feeling this frightening something I could not name or see/feel clearly.
I found my way to Out of the Fog where I learned that in addition to addiction, my family suffers from covert Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It took a while to see this covert NPD behaviour as abusive, but when the light went on finally it was truly a eureka moment. I finally understood just how crazy and soul crushing life had been in childhood, that I been emotionally abused and neglected. The core wound in Complex PTSD is to the spirit and soul of the abused, it is ongoing, interpersonal traumatization by the abuser. In some cases it is overt (physical/sexual abuse), and other times it is more subtle or covert as it was in my family, but in the end it all represents constant trauma with no hope of escape.
So Complex PTSD was the reason I was still struggling in life. I finally felt like I had all the pieces which was a relief, but at the same time it was overwhelmingly frightening and represented the loss of hope. I had to understand and accept that my family would never love me in the way I needed and deserved, that they were forever broken and I must move on. There was much grief and anger in my life then. And shortly after being diagnosed my husband and I bought a retirement home in a small rural town and I moved there alone. My son was at university and my husband had stayed behind to finish out his contract which still had nine months. As such, I did not have any support in place when the revelations of abuse and having Complex PTSD came about.
I started to have panic attacks (which I now know were emotional flashbacks), and was so depressed I could not get out of bed on many days. By the end I was drinking all day and hiding in the closet trying to block out any light and sound. Crazy stuff but that’s full blown Complex PTSD for you. My husband had to finish up his employment a month early and fly home. I had fallen apart.
I stopped drinking the day he arrived -- cold turkey (very bad idea - there is medical help to do it without risk of seizures and the like) and together we went to my GP. I told her all that was going on and what a humbling experience that was for someone who rarely asked for any help from anyone and was independent and strong (on the outside at least). After a few tries getting on the right medication I ended up on Celexa which fortunately did wonders for me, bringing my anxiety attacks and depression down in fairly short order. I had spent two decades on Prozac and within a few weeks of starting this medication I began to feel comfortable in my skin for the first time. I also began seeing a psychiatrist and an addictions counselor.
Over time between the medication, therapy, and being at OOTF and then here at OOTS I found my way out of the raging storm that was my inner life. I have far fewer and less intense EFs, the depression has lifted bit by bit, I know what triggers me and how to manage/avoid these things, I dissociate less and less, my Inner Child (and other parts) are more integrated, and overall I feel like I have more inner space for the positive things in life.
I used to think that I would heal completely, but now I understand that the trauma is part of me and I will always have to manage it. By processing it as much as I can rather than hiding from it though I am in the driver’s seat now. Life is good and getting better.