Undiagnosed What does a lifetime of living in fear, being controlled do to a person?

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So I’ve been meaning to write this for many days now. I struggle with wanting anything I do to be perfect. I obsess over it endlessly, get overwhelmed, find a distraction, then repeat. I lose a lot of time like this.

I have the book The Body Keeps the Score. I open to any page in the morning and read 1 paragraph. Feels more manageable and gives me something to think about for the day (if I can manage to do it).

Today’s paragraph (page 289) was talking about different parts. Among other things, it said that the perfectionistic part is there to keep the person safe, which made me think of what I do. My brain has been making this task into a monumental one. I suppose I feel a tiny bit better reading that that part is there to help me in its own misguided way?

I’ve been putting a lot of pressure on myself to give my “complete story” so I can get the most accurate feedback possible. But maybe that is actually a sign for me to do the opposite, go slow.

Now my mind is going blank as I’m thinking of what to write. I seem to lose a lot of my mental abilities when I attempt to organize my thoughts around the abuse, my life before, after. It all becomes one big blur that is hard to put into words.

I’ll try to keep to things that I cannot refute, see if that helps. I feel nervous.

First of all, I’m not diagnosed.

I’m not in therapy. I was, briefly, before I knew about trauma. Didn’t work.

I’ve only read 6 books (as in, this is the extent of the tangible effort I’ve made, not 6 books is too few books. Although if it was financially and logistically feasible, I’d have read many more books. It feels easier to read a new book, than it is to sit with the contents of one?).
Pete Walker’s first two books
Alice Miller’s The Drama of the Gifted Child
Judith Herman’s Trauma and Recovery
John Bradshaw’s Healing The Shame That Binds You
and recently, The Body Keeps The Score.

All of them were difficult to read. I could relate to too much and my brain just wanted me away from the page as soon as I’d hit something that reminded me of something. In general, my brain takes me elsewhere often.

Going by Pete Walker’s 4F’s explanation, I’ve relied on the freeze response heavily since I was little. I learned flight and fawn later on. Fight wasn’t tolerated, my main abuser had the monopoly on that.

I’m a product of a dysfunctional family. It’s difficult for me to talk about them without it throwing me off completely.

I left a year ago, and they started stalking me. It’s been painful and overwhelming. Fearing for my life, daily nightmares, needing to guard the door, holding my breath and freezing in place at any sound.

And the guilt. Oh, the guilt. I’d be hit with it out of nowhere and I’d feel like I was drowning in it. That has largely diminished, thankfully. My dreams were full of it, then I’d be hit with how horrible I am as soon as I realized I’m awake, and I’d be hit with the same feelings throughout the day frequently, without any warning. Same with memories.

I constantly had a feeling like there was a child inside me crying deeply, I know it sounds odd. It felt like if I let it cry it out, my tears would never end.

Still now, when I think about them, I just want to cry deeply. I can see how sad they are, how pitiful, and what a waste all of this is. I haven’t yet learned to have the same empathy for myself.

The whole ordeal basically froze me in my place, quite literally. I didn’t seek any help, because I felt afraid to give any personal info about myself to anyone.

This intensity continued about 9 months total. The absolute worst of it about 6 months. From 10 months point the intensity started to ease up. It gave way to more depressed states. The staying in bed too long, not eating, not doing anything, with periods of feeling like my sadness couldn’t be contained anywhere to not feeling much of anything at all.

It’s confusing, because all the things I experienced were my “normal” amplified to the degree I hadn’t experienced before.

Now I’m in the middle somewhere.

The daily nightmares have tapered down to daily to every other day bad dreams. They don’t scare me as much anymore. Whereas before I’d wake up crying, or wake up and cry, or feel awful the whole day, now I wake up and immediately know it was just another dream and can mostly go about my day affected mildly. The dreams get repetitive too, so it’s the same thing I’ve already rehashed in a similar format the night before.

My hyper vigilance is lower too. I can tolerate being physically away from the door as long as I can check periodically that the lock is still working. I still barricade the door on some days, but not daily. I’ve learned the kind of noises neighbors make and every sound doesn’t stop me in my tracks for too long. When I’m outside, I no longer consistently expect to get shot and die. I’m not convinced there isn’t still a chance it might happen, but it doesn’t consume me as much.

The intrusive thoughts aren’t as forceful now. I still dread waking up in the morning, but I don’t immediately get images of my abusers and get told I’m a horrible person as the very first thing I experience. I get hit with the guilt less often now. When it hits, it’s not as forceful as before, it doesn’t kick me to my knees and overwhelm me as much. The memories are still with me, but the feelings they bring are less intense too.

So I’m better, but I’m not ALL better?

I’m better than my most terrified state, but I’m slightly worse than what’s been my normal state for all my life (which was never truly normal I’m learning?).

All of these things were true for me, periodically, with varying intensity, before too.

This feels strange too because internally so much happened to me in the past year, but from the outside, nothing happened.

I’m unemployed. I’m isolated. I feel afraid to leave the house alone. I’ve only left the house once by myself the whole year, even then I didn’t go far, literally a few steps. Taking care of myself comes and goes too, some days I can do a little more, some days a lot less. I do have moments of joy, then periods I have no interest in anything. I avoid a lot. I think this is how I survived the most intense periods, by watching many, many hours of tv, even when focusing on them was hard.

When I am in a bad state, everything goes down very fast, everything is horrible, of course I’m horrible, there’s no hope. My thoughts immediately go to suicide. I have no active plans to kill myself, I know I will not do it, but when I’m in certain states, my brain goes immediately to ‘suicide is the ONLY viable option, there is no hope left for any other possibilities in this scenario.’ It happens very fast.

It seems like I was submerged in so much darkness and rigidity and chaos, of not my own making, for so long, that I can’t shake it off now, even though I’m not actively and immediately surrounded by those things anymore.

How I view myself has gotten very narrow and warped too. There’s a whole world out there with interesting things, but it all feels like it’s not for me. It’s for everyone else.

I can see that I need help, that I can’t do it alone, that I tried all my life, but now have to accept that it’s not a one person’s work. All the secrecy and silent suffering. Sigh.

I can see that it was all part of the abuse. “Everything good is for everybody else.” “Good kids aren’t selfish or greedy.” “You must accomplish everything alone. It is the heroic way. If someone helped you, you didn’t do anything, none of it counts.”

Now I feel guilty that I wrote too much, but I also don’t want to edit anymore?! It took me about 5 hours to put this together. ? Maybe I’ll just hit post (after previewing of course), squeal, run away, and avoid coming back here for a while. ?

Thank you for reading/hearing me/creating this space.


Hello @Athos and welcome to the forums. I hope we can help support you in some positive way.

I've read your post and definitely, I can see you have a lot going on. You do have a lot of insight into how and why things may be happening in terms of your mental health. You demonstrate a strong desire to understand and I'm sure that it a good thing and will serve you well.

Those books are all good for grasping various aspects of what trauma is and how it affects us. But books alone may not be all that you need now. You may be ready for something that will help you process and sort what has happened to you? This forum might meet part of that need? I hope so. But all in your own time.

I'm not concerned that you are undiagnosed right now. A label is not important unless it informs. I suppose eventually it would be helpful for you to have a diagnosis so that at least some kind of treatment could be outlined or suggested. But that will come with time too.

You have been very courageous in detailing your message and circumstances here and whilst you remain anonymous that doesn't diminish your situation or how important it is for you to be heard. Thank you for sharing. It takes a lot of energy doesn't it?

You are not alone in having a dysfunctional family and trying to survive or dare to thrive even from that. It's so damn hard and I know it is a tremendous struggle every day.

I'm pleased you are not actively suicidal and have no plans. That for me at least, means you are safe for now. It also shows a sense of self worth that prevails despite ideation about suicide. Nothing is achieved by you following through with SI. Once you are dead quite obviously you cannot change your mind, get better or rethink anything.

I'm also pleased you can see that you need help and that what has happened is very real and is a huge problem that you alone may not be able to resolve. Identifying this is a big step towards addressing it.

We do need help just for ourselves and there is no shame in this. That's one reason this forum exists.

I'm pleased you understand there is a way up and away from the suffering you have endured and with a lot of hard work on your behalf that suffering may be reduced or do we dare to dream even eliminated one day? lol

It's definitely not easy but I encourage you to explore ways you can reach out of the isolation and self-exclusion you have suffered from for at least the past year. That means on here in these forums which are quite interesting and helpful and also in your real life too.

Is there someone in your life that you can trust or begin to develop a closer and mutually beneficial relationship with? Are you all alone in life?

Being submerged in such darkness is part of trauma. I wonder if we ever really do need to shake it all off to heal. Maybe we don't need to do that to be ok. I keep exploring this each day too. It may seem easier to stay within the darkness. It's familiar after all, but realising that you can shake at least some of it off and emerge from it is an interesting idea?

Therapists... well @Athos ... there are so many variations on therapists it's impossible to know all. lol... It doesn't sound like you found or worked with one that was up to the job. That's not a failure on your behalf by the way... This is common amongst us people with mental health needs. I'd encourage you to explore and short list other therapists that are within your reach. Maybe though your local and usual gp. Sometimes we can go through a fair number before we find one that clicks and does actually listen and can help.

Again, welcome @Athos :) I'm glad you hit post and I hope you come back soon. :hug:



Very good post! Your intelligence and thoughtfulness is very clear.

I took a lot of courage/strength to write that and 'hit send'.

I know there are many here who can relate deeply to what you have felt and lived.

We will welcome you to write more.

May you find some peace.


@Athos I hope you're still wondering the halls of myptsd, I just had to say Hi and welcome to a kindred soul. Your story and way of being seems so much like me, honestly I could have written so much of what you did and yep I would have rewritten and taken at least 5 hours to get there too lol.

I do hope you're OK, it is a hard road and I hope you have some love and support around you because actually we do deserve it, it is for us too. :)
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