Stress Relief and Self Care Tools And Resources For Carers and Caregivers Of Loved Ones

Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder With A Distortion In Views Has An Impact

The impact of having a daughter (whom I love very much) with developmental complex post traumatic stress disorder, with a distortion in views, rates highly on my list of volatile situations. If only I knew in advance that they would become one of those situations, I could avoid the triggers that might set my daughter off. This is one of many challenges faced by Carers of someone with mental illness. This follows on from another article I wrote about how simple discussions can lead to eruptions of anger and how it affects normal conversation. Today I explore how a somewhat skewed perception causes difficulties in our relationship.


The Brain Works In Mysterious Ways


It helps to understand that her brain works on constant alert, with many swirling emotions which can cause rapid lapses into an episode, but it still does not make it any easier to live with. I feel she is more prone to attack me when she is going through something particularly emotional, however I never know when that is, so it’s difficult to adjust my own words or actions accordingly.


complex post traumatic stress disorder, cptsd, developmental ptsd

Swirl of emotions waiting to erupt.


False Memories Make Things Volatile


Differing views on parenting for example, has a heightened potential to cause heated discussions. Her explosive opinions on how I raise her daughter stem from her own memories as a child, but those memories are not what you would call an accurate description of how things really were. It’s not her fault. Her brain did not develop in the same way yours or mine would have. Her Amygdala became permanently changed, enlarged and overactive, and may well have ‘filled in the gaps’ in terms of what she actually does remember, and what she ‘thinks’ she remembers.


Like a coiled snake, poised to strike

The problem I face daily is that these memories that are true in her mind cause her to scream at me, often in public.


Heightened Stress


Her enhanced levels of stress from when she was ill with childhood Leukaemia, has skewed her recollection of things, making her perception of events very different to the reality.

She was only 3¾ years old up to 6½ years of age during the years she was ill and undergoing treatment, so it’s not surprising that her perception and understanding of the situation was affected.



Unconditional love can hurt when not recognised

Deep Seated Memories


But these false memories are very deep-seated and lead to emotional flashbacks of her childhood ‘experiences’. These flashbacks are subconscious and to the point where she even anticipates something and reacts to the ‘potential’ of it happening, yet it’s simply not what happened. I did nothing but love her and support her the best that I could, without the knowledge we have now. The kind of love only a mother can give that is completely unconditional.


It Hurts!


It hurts me so much when she has a belief that I didsomething, or said something, and it caused her pain somehow. She flies at me and screams at me in advance of an action expected of me that may never eventuate. And I can’t correct her because she is so far gone into an episode I have no hope of reaching her to explain.


Different Perspectives


We don’t have nice conversations around my raising of her child, we have accusations, abuse and shrieking. If she has any kind of recollection or deep memory from her childhood that remotely resembles a situation that is occurring now with her daughter, she goes off. Especially when it comes to her deciding on occasion that ‘just for today’ she might have a say in her daughter’s life.

Not surprisingly it only happens when she feels like it. However it is not always appropriate timing that she chooses to tell me, I mean yell at me, especially in front of her daughter and even in the middle of the school walkway. No wonder the poor little tyke gets confused and suffers distress.


Low Self Esteem Or Coping Skills?

developmental post traumatic stress disorder

Slow and steady wins the race

During one instance, her daughter was going to a sports carnival for school. Normally I drop her off but this day my daughter came too. She told her to have a good day and enjoy herself.

My encouragement involved giving her some skills around dealing with disappointment. I told her not to worry if she ended up coming last, as long as she participated, that’s the main thing. That is what I would have said to my daughter too.


I Checked


My daughter got angry with me and told me I was planting low self esteem in my granddaughter’s head. Whereas I thought I was giving her coping skills.

I do understand her reasoning and why she might think it could result in low self esteem, but it really was only a fractional view of the whole picture and is a classic example of the differences in perception she has from the norm. Just to be sure I wasn’t inadvertently harming my granddaughter with my intended encouragement I did check with my granddaughter’s psychologist. She confirmed that it was giving her coping skills and would not normally lead to low self esteem.


The Scars Of Memory Whether, True Or False, Are Still There



Emotional Avalanche

The things she gets so worked up over is really beyond my capacity to guess at. There is such an avalanche of emotions just waiting for the slightest disturbance to come along and I get slaughtered.


Stirs Things Up


For someone to get so worked up over the things that she does is beyond me to ever be able to guess what will cause the avalanche and what won’t.

Bearing in mind this is what developmental CPTSD does. It stirs up hidden deep emotions from when she felt abused or abandoned from her childhood Leukaemia, and shoots it out at the nearest person who triggered that memory, in other words, usually that’s me. Until we see signs of recovery, this is life. She is unlikely to be able to change at this point in time, but there is something I can do to try to help the situation.


Dr Wayne Dyer Said “How People Treat You Is Their Karma, How You React Is Yours”


So, what do I do? I guess what most people would suggest is that I can work on myself and learn ways of changing the way I react, so that it doesn’t affect me, or upset me as much. It is very difficult to detach myself from a situation while I am in the midst of being abused for something. However, I must try, otherwise I won’t have the strength to keep going. The same will be true for you if you are in circumstances like mine.


Take Responsibility For Your Own Reactions


In other words, if we keep telling ourselves that a situation is upsetting us, or allow ourselves to believe that another person is making us mad or sad because of the way they are treating us, then we give our power to them and make ourselves a victim. Don’t REACT, instead RESPOND, by taking responsibility for your own thoughts, feelings and actions as a result.



Re-Claim Your Inner Strength


Then the power is in your awareness of your own inner strength. At least where there has been incidences of complex post traumatic stress disorder with a distortion in views, such as described here, I can begin to choose how I feel about the situation and attempt to reduce the stressful impact it can cause. In turn, we learn new coping skills.

It will take practice and constant reminders so I suggest you find a way to remind yourself what you should be doing, i.e. letting it go, and have whatever method you choose, on hand to do it. Perhaps affirmations for yourself, reminding you are a good, kind, caring person, might be one idea. I can’t guarantee how effective it will be for any of you, because each person is dealing with their own individual circumstances. All I can suggest is to give it a try and you will find that it does take some of the pain away.


I hope you have found something new to work with in this article. I encourage you to share any suggestions you have for dealing with situations such as this so that we are all helping each other. You may have a wonderfully effective tool to share that may change the life of someone. Please don’t keep it to yourself.


Thank you


Warm Wishes


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