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Surviving Despite The Odds

Discussion in 'General' started by starshine, Mar 13, 2007.

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  1. starshine

    starshine Active Member


    I've not been around in a while. But I find reading the posts really helpful. Because I can so much relate. So I thought I'd drop in. And update at the same time.

    [I have Complex PTSD, due to

    ~birth trauma -I was born 2 months early, nearly died in the birth canal, so was born via forceps, was isolated in SCBU, and had invasive medical procedures whilst newborn and very fragile physically.
    Mum also had PTSD due to this trauma. (which was undiagnosed, but that's what it was. she still has remnants today)

    ~witnessing domestic violence, along with long term emotional abuse, captivity etc under my dictatorial controlling father, who had a mental illness, but refused treatment. this started from when I was about 5. I left home at 18.

    ~severe daily bullying at school for 10 years. from when I was 7 to 17. by a gang of 20+ of my peers [all girls]. this escalated to physical attacks as the years went on - for example snowballs with stones inside, a wooden chair thrown at me across the classroom....chasing me down the road, taking my things and hiding them, as well as the ongoing daily ridicule, shaming, humiliation.
    none of the teachers nor my friends really noticed, or did anything to protect me.

    Then there were 2 breakins when I was 16. And a breakin that I had to 'deal with' at a friend's flat some 15 years later started bringing all the PTSD symptoms full on to the surface. Then I was living in the East End of London, where crime was rife, and I didn't feel safe at all.
    At the same time, I was a supply [substitute] teacher in some really rough inner London schools for several years and this re-traumatised me as once again I was in an environment where I was seen as a non person, where physical assault was common, classroom fights. I once had to stop a fight between two 8 year olds where scissors were involved. I was ridiculed all over again by the pupils, and the feelings of terror and no escape became a daily reality all over again...]

    I'm having lots of nightmares again. Its a constant effort to stay in the present and not be pulled back into the flashback universe, where I am afraid of everyone who I don't know, where I am always hostile and alert for danger.

    I go through phases where part of me feels that I didn't endure enough to be suffering this much. But that's part of my abusers' programming, as it were, and the denial that anything was wrong. How my father pretty much kept me and mum prisoner, never allowing strangers in, so that noone knew he was tyrannising me and my mum, hurting her, emotionally assaulting us both, making threats to send me away. How school never noticed, or ignored the daily assaults on me, like I didn't really exist, nothing was happening..

    I am lucky now to have an excellent therapist who is helping me come to terms with my experiences, and start to live, really live, in the present. I am lucky to live with some great flatmates in a much calmer area of London. I am lucky to have a great job - I now work for libraries - which is very supportive of me and has really helped me through the worst of my illness.

    The past isn't happening now. I bear its scars. But I will make it through..
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  3. starshine

    starshine Active Member

    Does anyone else often feel that their traumas weren't 'enough', even though they clearly were damaging?
  4. goingonhope

    goingonhope Member Premium Member

    Hi starshine, I can understand and respect that you go through periods of time where you think as if your trauma wasn't enough, but I must say that reading what you shared, I'd have to say, I can see very clearly it was.

    I'd agree with you that your father's severe abuse and programming, and its effects on you, actively makes this difficult, perhaps impossible to see at times. I'm sorry, bc I can see it very clearly. Even identify with the dictatorial controlling father and that constant threat, which likely was as traumatizing, and felt as bad as the abuse. Reminds me a great deal of my father.

    Also, starshine, what you wrote above that I put in quotes, describes all to perfectly my experiences and feelings. Perfect identif. Wow! THX, for sharing this.

    Take care.

  5. starshine

    starshine Active Member

    Thank you Hope. Your supportive words mean a lot.

    I flip between how it feels overwhelming, what happened to me, one thing after another, with no escape at home or school, each embedding everything deeper anddeeper..... : and how I see how others have been through far more. That my suffering isn't 'legitimate' somehow....

    Its hard to always see it through compassionate and accepting eyes.
  6. Lisa

    Lisa Well-Known Member

    Starshine... Geez, now I knnow why you said you could relate ! I am resisting asking you which school you worked at, because it could be mine! I went to a SE London school, and I think pupils bullying teachers is only a recently publicised issue - as bullying is also. Yet, I saw and experienced disgusting behaviour from children towards myself and others, including teachers. I feel for you. I relate to the family situation, and feeling unsafe in London too. I have escaped up north to Uni now, though.

    Don't feel guilty or that your PTSD isn't 'legitimate' somehow.... I feel that sometimes too. But it's not true. You're experiences warrant your PTSD, and everyone here has legitimate PTSD. There is no league table of what's worse and what's not. Everyone here has experienced different types of trauma. But they are only different, and the personal impact of your personal truama, my personal trauma, and everyone else's is what the point is. That's what makes it trauma. It's not comparable in that respect.

    See you around, fellow lond-ona!

  7. officerx

    officerx New Member

    If I understand the question correctly, I can very much relate. I often worry that others have been through much worse events than mine but seem fine. I feel like I am somehow weak. A very close friend of mine has been to war but does not seem to suffer from it. I know that everyone reacts differently to traumatic events and from what I understand about PTSD, there are often many other factors other than just one or two events.

    That being said, based on what you wrote, it certainly seems that you have been through an awful lot.
  8. slhlilbit

    slhlilbit Active Member

    Im sending big hugs. I can relate bulliing is a terable thing to have to deal with, my son was bulled in school and at his fathers house, his PTSD is differnt from mine but still just as real. we are all unique in every aspect of our life. lets just say PTSD SUCKS
  9. starshine

    starshine Active Member

    Thank you so much. It really means a lot to me.

    I taught in many SE London primary schools, including Deptford and Brixton. [the agency said it was Herne Hill... :|... ha. not. the agency did things like that. and send me to schools, and I'd get there and I wasn't needed...]

    The secondary school I attended as a pupil was in SE London/Kent. And now apparantly has a 'reputation' for severe bullying and nothing being done about it. I'm not surpised..]

    One thing I omitted from my original list, my 'trail of trauma', was a major gas leak I survived back in early 1996. I was living alone, and smelt gas for some time, but, being passively suicidal as I was, not caring, ignoring it, even burning candles every day in the room next door. I woke up one night unable to breathe, and decided I needed to get the boiler checked. Engineers came the next day and gave the verdict - a major gas leak. And it had been going on several months...

    I am lucky to be alive.

    That was when the job stress was intense. The headteacher in my first job- I started out as her 'golden girl', but as time went on, she started overloading me with responsibilities and no support, and bullying me.... *sigh*

    I was talking about this in therapy this morning, but it had slipped my mind with all the other stuff when I first posted..
  10. Claire

    Claire Well-Known Member

    Hello, yes I understand totally. I feel the same way about my PTSD. I had a car crash but only had slight physical injuries, thankfully. My PTSD seems a bit excessive for what happened in lots of way, it doesn't seem logical. The only way I can make sense of it is that if I had been phycially injured and I still walked with a limp then that would be ok, people including me would understand. PTSD is just a limp in my head. Therapy is like my head going to the gym and getting stronger. It hurts like hell but afterwards, in the long run, I get fitter, stronger and more healthy.
  11. starshine

    starshine Active Member

    I see it a bit like that, Claire. Its an emotional injury. Mainly. But the physical injuries were there. But more subtle. I am constantly hungry for validation and reassurance. Because that was so lacking in my childhood.

    Grof talks about a Co-ex, a chain of traumas, and that's pretty much what my life has been up until a few years ago.

    Learning compassion, that is my task....
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