PTSD And Complex PTSD: What Happens When You’ve Lived In A Psychological War Zone

2. Avoidance of Situations That Remind You Of The Event

PTSD: You go to great lengths to avoid anything that might potentially trigger memories or feelings associated with the traumatic events. If you were in an abusive relationship, for example, you might isolate yourself from others or stop dating in an attempt to avoid being harmed by others.

If you were raped, you might avoid situations where any form of physical contact might arise, whether it be getting a massage or being affectionate with a romantic partner. If you suffered bullying, you might avoid places where group activities are likely to happen, such as large parties or even certain careers that might require high levels of social interaction. This avoidance can include trying to avoid trauma-related thoughts, too; you might keep yourself persistently busy so you don’t have to face any thoughts regarding what you went through.

Complex PTSD: Throughout your life, you may go to excessive lengths to avoid abandonment and resort to people-pleasing or “fawning” behavior. This might result in you having trouble setting boundaries with others, standing up for yourself when your rights are violated and becoming enmeshed in codependent relationships. You might be hypersensitive to signs of disapproval or micro-signals of abandonment.

As therapist Pete Walker (2013) writes, “The Abandonment Depression is the complex painful childhood experience that is reconstituted in an emotional flashback. It is a return to the sense of overwhelm, hopelessness and helplessness that afflicts the abused and/or emotionally abandoned child. At the core of the abandonment depression is the abandonment melange – the terrible emotional mix of fear and shame that coalesces around the deathlike feelings of depression that afflict an abandoned child.”

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