Trauma Coming from Well-Intended Actions


Hi there,
I realized something. I felt like I didn't fit in with the majority of the trauma survivors because most of my trauma came from people who weren't trying to be nefarious so my experiences constantly got brushed off or spun in a positive way. I have tried to be positive and push everything down but it always made my symptoms worse.

1. I got left in public when I was about 1 probably due to my physical disability.

2. I got put in foster homes/orphanages from 1-5.

3. During my time at the orphanage, i had a series of extremely painful medical procedures to "make me better" but people didn't involve me in the process and I never consented to anything because the adults knew better. Even when I felt pain/discomfort, I was supposed to "suck it up"

4. There was some hints of minor physical abuse, malnutrition, and emotional neglect because of lack of training and understaffing.

5.After my last procedure during my orphanage stay, I got adopted a few months later and moved to a foreign country.

So overall, people tried to do the best they could but I wasn't allowed to feel upset or frustrated because people were well-intentioned. I didn't get much emotional support through any of those experiences because for the most part, the players in my trauma weren't inherently "bad" and were ultimately just trying to do the best they could. Even still, I was very traumatized due to my young age and lack of emotional support.

It literally took years for therapists to believe that I had PTSD because I wasn't a victim of something outrightly heinous or horrific.

Can others relate?
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i'm not able to relate to your experences specefically. but i can relate to the feeling that my trauma doesn't belong. you have ptsd. you have trauma. it is legitamite. and from what you had stated that all sounds legitamite. so welcome to the forum all the same and i hope you stick around. you may find that people here can relate with you! we have all type of people and traumas to go with it. 👋


Oh I can relate. My parents were psychologically abusive and my mother was coverly/emotionally incestuous but they both looked so good on the outside that if anyone on the outside looked at my family (including a few family therapists who actually did!) anyone on this forum or anywhere else would conclude the problem was me. That I was just “born messed up”. I was not. Things happened at home and many other places and are still happening.
may I also suggest that babies/children in orphanages frequently *die* due to lack of affection and/or attention. It’s called failure to thrive. Absolutely causes PTSD. 100%


It literally took years for therapists to believe that I had PTSD because I wasn't a victim of something outrightly heinous or horrific.
Hmmmmm. I'm struggling with therapists thinking you didn't experience something heinous or horrific to qualify for PTSD (or CPTSD?). Because what you describe in your post sounds hugely traumatic for you to go through. So many events there that must have been traumatic, with little to no room or support to help you process as a very young child. From your description it seems totally understandable you would have PTSD. I'm sorry you had therapists who didn't understand that for a long time.

In my work I often tall about 'intent'. I.e. the consequences are the same whether it is intended or not. For example , if someone was over the speed limit and lost control and ran someone over, they didn't intend to do that, but they did. Impact on the other person is the same whether intent was there or not.
Lack of intent also doesn't come from a place of care and thought for someone else. Which is what needs to happen (i.e. if that driver cared about the reasons behind speed limits, they more likely would not have sped and lost control and hurt someone else).
So lack of intent doesn't mean care.
And good intentions also doesn't necessarily mean care. (It can do of course) 'Good intentions' could be abusive. Because good intentions for who? Serving what? What values underpin these 'good intentions'? If they ignore the person they are meant for, they are not good intentions.

Edit: but yes, I can relate. When things are presented to you are: this is care for you. And actually it isn't. It's so confusing as you have to be able to stand up and say the opposite. And we can't do that as children. So yep, can relate to the feeling of looking back on your childhood and seeing things differently from the story we were told.
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@Movingforward10 : I regularly got diagnosed depression, anxiety, adjustment disorder but therapists were hesitant to say PTSD because I didn't have "recurrent nightmares", my affect was muted, and I didn't show "enough" signs of externalized trigger behavior or something.

Unbeknownst to them, I muted my expression to avoid the emotional pain (classic avoidance symptoms). The weird part is that I had suicidal ideation as a 7 year old (2 years after I got adopted) and they still just labelled it as depression.

My current T says PTSD with complex trauma and developmental trauma, depression, and generalized anxiety disorder.