Cowering before trauma will leave us scared and devastated for life. Learning from trauma will enable us to move forward with the skills needed to cope with incessant life challenges. Here are some important life skills Complex PTSD can teach you.
The broken world of trauma
Trauma is a bitch. It ruins and destroys our minds and heart. It shoves us down into a muddy pit full of stakes until death starts to seem like the best way out. Of course, we crawl and fight our way back up over time, but it can certainly take a serious toll on our mental and emotional health. But there is always a silver lining even in the darkest days.
All of us experience trauma. You don’t necessarily need to experience war or violence to be traumatized. Life is capable enough to completely mess us up and leave us feeling emotionally and mentally paralyzed. Of course, for people suffering from PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder the situation is a whole lot worse as it is a mental illness resulting in severe stress, anxiety, phobia, nightmares, and flashbacks. Complex PTSD, as the name suggests, is a more complex psychological disorder that can develop due to exposure to a series of repetitive or prolonged traumatic experiences. Complex PTSD is considered to be more intense than PTSD.
Related reading: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
If you have complex posttraumatic stress disorder, you may experience –
- Interpersonal challenges
- Negative self-beliefs
- Emotional dysregulation
- Feelings of emptiness
- Social withdrawal
- Feeling misunderstood
- Depersonalisation or derealisation
- Physical symptoms like headaches, stomach aches, chest pains etc
- Suicidal thoughts
Trauma floods our body and nervous system with stress hormones, and makes our rational thoughts inaccessible while putting our mind and emotions in a state of fear. It instigates the fight-flight-freeze response, leads to panic attacks, and makes us feel vulnerable and exposed.
So how can we suffer through such excruciating mental and emotional suffering and still learn valuable adaptive life skills? How can living with complex PTSD transform us into better versions of ourselves?
Related reading: PTSD: 4 Surprising Lessons From a Recent Research
Living in a post-traumatic world
Trauma can be severely damaging. But the human spirit is an infinite power that can overcome the greatest failures and obstacles. Emotional wounds inflicted by trauma can scar us for life, but it can also teach us what we need to learn the most – skills to cope with the very same trauma and live the rest of our lives as stronger, more capable and evolved individuals.
Trauma can destroy our world, but we can always find the strength to rebuild it. Yes, it will take time and a lot of inner strength to move forward after what you have been through, but rest assured that you will move forward. That’s what trauma teaches us – to move ahead despite the pain we have experienced, the loved ones we have lost, the abuse and neglect we had to endure since childhood, and regardless of how broken we may be – we move forward.
Related reading: 17 Warning Signs Of Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Trauma survivors living with complex PTSD often suppress their natural impulses and instincts to cope with anxiety, fear, and trauma. They are more focused on their psychological, emotional and physical survival. However, having a history of complex trauma can help us develop certain coping mechanisms and skills needed for surviving trauma, driven by our fight-flight-freeze response.
Life skills learned from C-PTSD
Psychotherapist Jennifer Lock Oman, LISW, BCD, list down the following crucial life skills that someone dealing with complex PTSD can develop over time –
1. Working through pain
One of the most important life skills complex PTSD teaches you is to keep functioning normally even when you are facing challenges and obstacles. “Resilience after trauma is one of the most compelling phenomena in contemporary traumatic stress research,” explains a 2014 study.
Complex posttraumatic stress disorder makes us more resilient and teaches us to push through the pain and manage our emotions in times of distress. It helps us realize that we have the power of choice when going through distress and we can choose to either get overwhelmed or to learn to identify the signs of distress and cope with the situation better.
Our past traumatic experiences, anxiety, and fear of adverse events enable us to plan ahead and find the simplest solutions to the biggest problems.