COMPLEX POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER
Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is crippling. Donna has experienced more than one trauma, but it was the assault that triggered her symptoms. Within her latest book, "SOUL SEARCHING: To PTSD Hell and Back Twice" she explains that the 'complex' aspect of her PTSD is due to the nine years of trauma she was exposed to that included six years of stalking. CPTSD is diagnosed when there is has been no foreseeable end to trauma, for example during war or domestic abuse.
Donna's original PTSD was triggered by the assault in twenty-fourteen, an unrelated attack she received in a mental health setting at which she worked. Each time a flashback occurred, either during the daytime or at night she went through this attack experiencing the traumatic event time and time again. There was no end to the torment. PTSD presents itself pretty much like a fragmented film playing out that you never quite get the ending of. Its not possible to piece together the whole story because your brain hasn't filed the memory correctly. Her situation was made worse because of the anger she was carrying, not towards the person who attacked but because of the situation she'd been left in by her employers. There was no blame in her mind or heart towards her attacker and still isn't--psychosis can't carry blame. Many people around her can't get their heads around that! It is what it is. There was this vicious cycle: the more flashbacks that occurred, the more fearful she became. The more fear felt, the more the anger built. The more angry she was, the more flashbacks there were. Life became hell. Functioning even at a remedial level was difficult at best, for Donna was also struggling to rebuild her lost memory and thus her identity.
It took two rounds of therapy to eradicate the physical symptoms of Donna's PTSD, which included reliving the attack week after week. As a result of this, Donna will not tolerate anyone in her life that provides her or her family enough stress that triggers her symptoms. It takes considerable effort to stay on top of CPTSD and the best way to do that is to keep busy and to live every moment. Some days are still difficult, of course, but recognising the signs is paramount to retaining a healthy mind.
Writing gave Donna the gift of freeing her mind and it now continues to enable her recovery to the next level. Through it she's gained confidence and emerged from the shadows once more.