Complex PTSD (or Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or Complex Trauma) is getting more attention. As a trauma therapist in Oakland, CA, this is how I define and describe C-PTSD.
🔥 𝘙𝘦𝘭𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘰 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘰𝘸𝘯 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘴' 𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘦𝘳 𝘪𝘴 𝘢 𝘱𝘢𝘵𝘩𝘸𝘢𝘺 𝘵𝘰 𝘨𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘮𝘢𝘤𝘺. 🔥 Ever heard the term "blind rage"? If you relate, read below...
Individuals who've experienced complex trauma and/or emotionally dysregulated caretakers may experience heightened anger or have a hard time experiencing and interacting with anger at all.
“The existentially gifted are more likely to experience a high degree of existential angst. Being aware of the finite quality of life and their potential, they constantly feel compelled to move forwards. This can manifest as strong creative urges, but also as constant restlessness, anxiety and insecurity.”
― Imi Lo, Emotional Sensitivity and Intensity: How to manage emotions as a highly sensitive person
Box breathing is a simple yet effective technique that can help to reduce stress, promote relaxation, and keep you within (or return you to) your window of tolerance. It involves inhaling, holding the breath, exhaling, and holding the breath again, in a steady and controlled manner, while counting to a specific number of seconds. Here is a step-by-step guide to box breathing:
The window of tolerance refers to the optimal range of emotional and physiological arousal that a person can manage effectively. The window of tolerance is a helpful metaphor I use as a trauma therapist in Oakland, CA.
You shouldn't have to choose between authenticity--being your full + wonderful self--and attachment. You should be able to find people who fully love you--and even delight in you--and provide you secure attachment. This is especially true in childhood! As a trauma therapist in Oakland, CA, I often see clients who suffer from codependency, people pleasing, low self esteem, and attachment issues--strategies that arouse when they needed attachment and their authentic selves were rejected.
As a trauma therapist in Oakland, CA, I see many clients who experience an inner critic, from intense self criticism to cruel self-hatred. I encourage an empowering reframe: self-hatred has kept you safe, and protected you from intolerable feelings and experiences-- vulnerability, mistakes, accountability, disappointment, reckoning with trauma--but do you still need to be using self-hatred as a tool?
As a trauma therapist in Oakland, CA, I integrate DBT skills in helping clients with emotional reactivity.
***Resources are not a substitute for therapy and are not intended for making diagnoses or providing treatment. Not all practices and tools are suitable for every person. Please discuss exercises, practices, and tools with your individual therapist or health care provider.