• 💖 [Donate To Keep MyPTSD Online] 💖 Every contribution, no matter how small, fuels our mission and helps us continue to provide peer-to-peer services. Your generosity keeps us independent and available freely to the world. MyPTSD closes if we can't reach our annual goal.

Using fictional characters to deal with trauma?



Hi, I think I'm just writing this to see if anyone else had similar experiences. I've never really shared anything like this on forums but feel insane after trying to talk about it. My memories of childhood trauma are almost like a "story" like it was happening to this fictional character I created, not me, and I put all of this into this kind of fantasy realm and I'm really struggling now trying to unpick what was real and what wasn't real. It hurts just trying to think about it. I wonder if anyone else has had this? I think I used to almost recreate it for years later and go over and over this story I created when I was older so it makes it even more blurry.
I don’t know a single writer in fiction who doesn’t use their work to process their own shit, the same way I don’t know painters & musicians who don’t. And I know a whole helluva lot of them. Hundreds on a personal level, thousands on an acquaintanceship level, probably 10x that just by experiencing their art.

Which doesn’t mean that artists have to have lived pain to create art that speaks to people. All kinds of things create great art, that truly evokes emotions in others. But pain? Is a pretty durn common one. As is trauma. Whether a person develops PTSD from it, or not.

So it’s a very real “thing” in and of itself. Just by being human, and having even a half assed imagination, much less a good, or great one.

Conversely? Similarly?

The stories we tell ourselves? Create our reality. Whether you’re an artist, or not. It doesn’t matter how amazing your parents are, if you cast them as villains. It doesn’t matter how terrible they are, if you cast them as benevolent gods. Ditto every other possible area of life. Friends, family, school, work, Tuesday, etc. The way we see ourselves and others? Is always in our own minds. Which doesn’t make it “not” real. It just means that perception is one of the most powerful forces out there.

It’s stupid common to imagine friends who rescued us, breaking down the doors and regulating, when in reality someone just banged on the wall and shouted to STFU… when we’re screaming for our lives. And 10,000 other variations.

You’re totally normal.
sounds similar to what has been called, "depersonalization" in my own therapy sessions. that name resonates for me. when i am not quite ready to **go there** the need to **go there* perks through my psyche as vague figures and disconnected parts. when i work up the courage and support to **go there**, those vague figures and disconnected parts mix freely with dreams, delusions and god knows what else to make? ? ? your guess is as good as mine.

the good news is that it can be sorted with gentle persistence. backup highly recommended. i like to compare the sorting process to times i have helped to clean out hoarder storage units. the job gets easier as the sorting proceeds. don't forget the self-care breaks. be prepared for surprises to jump out from the long neglected piles.
Yep, you're totally normal here!

For me, as a child I was told my reality wasn't real (feelings, versions of events etc), so was taught my reality was fiction, or someone else's version of reality was true. I didn't create a fictional character, but I put it all away and not within me. Which meant that was real felt unreal, and what was unreal felt real.
Which has caused immense problems with knowing now what is real or not. I've come to learn that if it feels unreal, it means it probably is real.

I second the view of depersonalisation and derealisation (I always get confused between what these are precisely).

It sure is a mindf*ck.

Glad you have felt able to share and hope the commonality of this helps you realise you're not alone.
I guess I used Maladaptive Daydreaming as a child to cope with bullying. I would recreate scenarios in my mind and act them out, they would be mixed in with some fav celebrity being involved and me saving them and suddenly becoming the popular kid in school
Sometimes I would act things out in the real world and try out things I’d thought up while imagining so some things I can’t tell whether they were things that only happened in my ‘inner world’

I didn’t realise way back then though (70’s/80’s) that this was MD or that I was actually creating new alters in some cases hat came out to deal with specific situations. I knew I was ‘different’ but never understood why.
Yes. I was very immersed in stories and fantasies, still do sometimes but now I can tell when it’s happening, for the most part, and turn it into fiction writing instead. When I was young I lived in it and couldn’t tell the difference. An early therapist broke my fantasies for the first time and it was shocking but they came back to a certain degree.

All humans experience their lives through story and narrative, we are drawn to it, but trauma can add more spin and details as a coping strategy.
It is interesting to me that using what I know is fantasy is useful in making other people see what is going on in my head.

Instead of being able to articulate my reality and what I think about it, I can use the writing and acting of others that portrayed a certain set of feelings in a way that was easier to see than my disjointed and valueless attempts to convey it. I find myself saying "it's like that character in that movie" and wondering at the same time if I felt it for myself or if I used the template to steer my emotions to what I may see as a more acceptable form? Did that writer and those actors really portray true emotions I really felt? Did they really present it in a way that embodies what I am feeling so I can refer to the example to help my therapist understand it better?

I had one T that would always say she had never seen that movie or read that book or watched that series, no matter what it was and when I asked her if she even had a television or went to movies or read books, she said that using those comparisons as a shortcut to getting her to see what I was feeling cut out a lot of very important steps in the process of coming to a clear understanding of my own feelings, it was like the opposite of journaling, it was closer to plagiarism and she wasn't willing to let me get away with it. A valid point.
When I changed psychologists and walked in to my new psychologists office, the first thing I noticed was the hundreds of toys....hundreds and hundreds.

When you shift all that trauma stuff to an outside thing - its easier to deal with in that its easier for that figure or character to carry that experience than for the person. The "Its not me its this whatever" makes it easier to put all those experiences onto the character than onto themselves.

Worrying about sorting it all out? Don't. When you get there, you will know what was real. Despite the "fill it in, cover it pave over it and put someone standing there saying "Move on - nothing to see here...." You will dig through that to the truth.

Because like the book says "The Body Keeps Score" and no matter what - it tells us when we hit the truth....