C-PTSD, but doesn’t everyone have those experiences?


In therapy, we put together a string of events from my childhood that bring up very intense feelings. One of the worst moments involved parental “abandonment” and I have blanks all around it. Just extreme emotional pain. My life improved after that event (for awhile) until negative patterns started affecting my choices. My question is, isn’t that just life? Isn’t that normal? My T considers it complex-ptsd, and I do have 2 big traumas in the mix along with a sensitive nervous system, but it really just seems like lots of people have similar childhoods from my generation and I think I had pretty good parents. Does anyone else feel this way?


My t says that it's called complex when there are a series of both big T and little T events. So even though i had great parents, I had surgeries and illnesses that were big and little, then add in adult trauma and it becomes complex.

One exercise she gave me when I was trying to figure out this same question was to write down any incident in my life that other people would think of as "holy crap that happened to you`!" Even if I didn't think it was that big of a deal and they were just overreacting. I came up with 18 "things that just happen in everyone's lives". She said, ok, to put this into perspective for you, most of my ptsd clients can list two to four. You listed 18. That's why your diagnosed with complex trauma..


When I was younger I used to wonder why some of my peers went thru similar things but reacted differently than I did.

Took years for me to understand that some people end up like us and others go on to have very different lives.

But in the end I had to accept I was wired different. Just the way it is.

At least HERE I feel normal.


so i'm doing net and part of net is to build a timeline of traumatic events, i literally can't do this-it's not possible. so we've focused on keystone events and "types of events." rape, physical abuse, explosions, gun violence, blah blahs.

there are, probably, thousands of events. because when you're in a sustained abusive situation-as my therepist put it-you get hit over and over again, every day, you get raped every day, you get yelled at and screamed at every day-

each one off those things is "an event." but your brain stops processing it that way so you can survive. but it's still happening. that's why it's complex. because your brain is breaking down your linear understanding of reality.

so what may look like "i had a decent childhood, i was abandoned once and then had 2 traumas so now i have cptsd-" it may be more complicated than that, you're just constructing it in this fashion.

Deleted member 50877

I am not sure how possible it is to track ptsd / c-ptsd based purely on the severity of your past experience. Firstly, because different people react differently to the same events and secondly because memories and beliefs about past can be biased, as grief explained. So while there must be something in the past that qualifies as trauma, the most important bit is how you are doing now and whether you experience some of those many things that can be put under the label ptsd. In my understanding it‘s the things in here and now that make up ptsd and the event in the past is just a hint where it comes from and a place to search for understanding of the struggles in here and now. Severe emotional pain however, sounds like it was pretty impactful. Maybe others had same experiences, but other combination of protective factors or experiences that buffered that, everyone is different.

What I am sometimes wondering is whether others have ptsd and just don‘t identify it as such - when I see people reacting very intensely to events and you can almost tell that it‘s not the situation now they are reacting to, but something from the past.


Yeah. Actually my local pdoc had made me make an exercise that at the time made me f*cking spiral down but now I think I understand better why it's was done the way it was.

He asked me to write a timeline of my life and write any event that I found was significant for any reason or that has made my life to change, big or small. Then, write if it was positive or negative and pick basic emotions attached to it: fear, joy, anger, sadness.

Holy crap that was awful!!!! Fear, fear, anger, sadness, anger, anger, fear, fear, fear, anger anger sadness (joy).

Then voilà. Among the emotional abuse and the neglect there were also crit As. And this is, even not counting the stuff I have suspicions of but can't remember. And not having it all detailed. Then, I remember the details, and it was even more awful.

Another exercise you can do is to pick someone you find well balanced AND empathetic AND who you know they had quite of middle of the road / happy childhood and casually mention an element you're doubtful about. Pick someone who didn't have to immigrate or have drastic changes because one thing I noticed about the ones of us who had to change countries violently... Is that we rationalize it like our parents did or what society tells us about it. Ah but it's better here than there, ah but it's wonderful to have that kind of experience, ah but everyone does it! The thing is, being displaced like this already is distressing for adults, let alone if you're a kid who isn't getting what the f*ck is happening AND that your parents aren't equipped to deal with it, and that they're not equipped to help you with it, and that they struggle themselves on arrival, and that you loose all your friends, get in a place that is strange, where you might not speak the language or if you do, your frame of reference still doesn't make any sense, and so and on.

And many of us don't find it traumatic at all. However, when I jokingly said holy shit when I arrived I couldn't even understand what anyone was talking about even if I could understand the language, and kids didn't want to believe me when I told them my grandmother was a dentist (see, in Latin America we don't have dentists, only jungle. This is the first thing I did learn arriving here)... My roommate had this look on her face: but this is beyond awful! And honestly! This is 1/100th of whatever did happen to me! To the point I get like it's impossible to tell anyone the full scale of things!

So yeah, on the top of having the neurological roulette at play when it comes to trauma, there is also the fact that not everyone responds in the same way. Abandonment and neglect also do constitute factors in being overwhelmed by things that could have been manageable otherwise. It is proven among all things that can actually prevent PTSD or anxiety disorders to form is social support. So when you're emotionally abandoned or neglected, even if your plate is full that you don't know what sexual abuse even means and that no one has laid a finger on you, stuff that others would find normal can let you in a great distress.