The Loneliness of Complex PTSD

As I sat in the Mental Health Ward following my suicide attempt I realised how lonely  Complex PTSD is and what a rather frightening mental illness it is, and the isolation that comes with it is horrifying. You can’t make anyone understand. The nurses and doctors spout words at you claiming to understand and use language which should illustrate they do but they just don’t. It’s all just perfunctory babble. They have no idea what’s really going on in your head. The confusion, the guilt, shame and frightening flashbacks which beset you daily. They don’t understand what that’s really, truly like. They give lip service to it. I know they do otherwise they wouldn’t say the things they do. They wouldn’t tell me to put it behind me, to move on, that it’s all in the past, that I can’t be hurt anymore. They are the worst words someone with PTSD can hear. It is so belittling. Never say those words to someone with PTSD them. It is downright insulting.

People around you have moved on but you can’t. You can’t. Sometimes I want the whole world to stop and stay a while with me, to endure what I am enduring. I need someone to understand this is difficult for me, and I’m not doing this on purpose. I just can’t move on.

My doctor and therapist says recovery is possible with rigorous therapy and medicines. But is it? Perhaps yes, perhaps not. I am losing faith because I’m still that trapped 55-year-old with no way out.

With post-traumatic stress disorder, there feels like there’s no escaping the monster that has confined you in isolation.

1. You can’t make people understand how lonely you are. Of course, you can’t blame people for not understanding because it’s your battle and yours alone. They can’t see that you are stuck in one moment of your life. They can’t feel it.

2. You can’t move to some place else and call it home. Every single one of us looks for a home. I’m not talking about the house we live in. I’m talking about the home in our minds. You’re lost without your home. And every other place you go to find it is just another house. You can’t find yourself.

3. Everything is a trigger. Someone says something and it reminds you of that particular moment, and there’s your trigger. You can’t visit the same place where the incident happened; it will trigger you. For me it’s hospitals. I can’t visit a hospital without getting a panic attack. This makes my life extremely difficult.

4. You’re desperate to get out of the trauma, but you just can’t. No matter how desperately you try to get out of that particular situation that made you this way, you can’t find relief. You can beg, borrow and steal for your brain, but there’s no freedom.

With all this struggle and stress, my abducted brain is tired. I’m tired. I feel like I can’t do this anymore. I’ve yet to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it feels like forever and I don’t know if I can do it anymore. But I have to keep trying, no matter how exhausted I am, and hope in the future this girl trapped inside the nightmare can finally wake up.


  1. Hugs. Doctors never get it, and, for some, are part of the trauma. But, others who have also experienced it can hopefully get it more. You are not alone.

  2. im 19 years old, with complex ptsd from being abused in every kind of way imaginable (except sexual) in primary school. im talking about being choked, beaten, humiliated for fun for 8 years. i changed immensely… i couldnt do anything about it cause if i did, the abusers would’ve called their older siblings and friends, and they’d kill me. im not sure if they actually would’ve done it, but some of them beat up their classmate so bad that he nearly died due to the bones in his nose almost stabbing his brain. regardless, i was living in constant fear for my life. i have a younger brother so when they threatened to hurt him too, when i was 8 or so, i completely gave up trying to protect myself or asking for help. i did try asking for help obviously… but i was too traumatised to tell my parents what’s actually happening to me while they think im a happy kid enjoying life in school. i told them “im being picked on”, and i tried every possible way to ask them to stay home. my parents talked to one of the guy’s parents and that was it… nothing changed. i kept telling my parents its still going on, but they just wouldnt listen… i stopped asking. i became almost mute, after the shit’s happening in school, i got home, always sighing of relief that i survived another day. but i couldnt cope then, my brain didnt allow me to break down. so my years went by distracting myself, video games were my saving grace, while in school i did what people call dissociation, and just disappeared in my mind while the abuse was going on in the outside. but i could still feel every single moment of terror… my parents werent the only ones to not help, my friends saw most of what happened to me and none of them stood up to stop it. teachers turned their heads or wouldnt care. heh, once when i was choked by one of guy, i managed to break free and i ran for the girls restroom (im a girl) and i tried to calm down and washed my face so others wouldnt see i cried. then my teacher came in and slapped me.. for going away from dancing practice and she dragged me out back. i told my mom and she said not to make a big deal out of it. when i mention it to her today, she says she doesnt remember it. anyway, help was the same from stranger adults, they just fucking watched. i could never count on anyone, it was always me against every fucking else. not even only one ever to protect me was my older sister but i stopped telling her when they threatened to hurt my brother, in order to protect her too. and still, they did hurt my brother… and i couldnt do anything about it. i just stood and watched and tried talking them down but i was frozen in fear. i have so much guilt and shame for not protecting my little brother… by 5th grade, i completely turned inside, and lost all hope i had. in 6th grade i stopped doing sports because those fuckers went to my training too and verbally abused me (since teacher was there they didnt do anything physical). but the teacher didnt stop them in any way, and told me to get over it and pay attention to training. so,as i lost my hobbies that kept me fit, i started gaining weight since i have insulin resistance inherited from my dad’s side, but i didnt know that at the time. the only thing i did was distracting myself full time, with playing on my computer. in 7th grade before school started, i told my mom if they send me back there im going to run away from home. so they made a little effort to make me a private student but the psychologist that the office sent me to to determine if i need it, lied to me and said i cant be a private student cause of some law in my country. she lied to my fucking face. i read about it around half a year later and everyone can be.. she said she can help me get better, poor gal didnt know i was tortured daily and she decided for it to be continued. i stopped going to her after a few occasions. in 8th grade, i was.. exhausted. i skipped school so much that i almost had to repeat a year. i didnt go to any school celebrations, i faked sickness all the time, and i didnt even go to my own dance at the end of school. i finished that school and i thought it was finally over… but it wasnt. i had nightmares all the time, i couldnt even get out of the house because of anxiety and fear from others. but i didnt have a choice, high school was starting and i had to travel 1.5 hour to it by train and crowds. i was living over my trauma all the time, but i had to adjust to a new environment and a new bunch of people who could be just as dangerous as those fuckers were. it was too much… i got panic/anxiety attacks (call it however you want) daily.i couldnt breathe, i was shaking as hell, sweating and sometimes got close to fainting from my heart beating too fast. i had flashbacks all the time, it was a torture to stand close to people on the train (and i had to since it was always packed), and i was deadly afraid from my classmates, even though i made some friends. i started skipping again, and eventually got to a psychiatrist who diagnosed me with social phobia after 15 minutes of talking… fucking idiot. professionals never helped or cared either. but it did help me become a private student. it didnt last long. my school forgot to tell me about exams so i was gonna get thrown out, but instead i got into night classes with adults. before that happened, i was at my worst… since it was “safe” after leaving my primary school, 8 years worth of emotions came flooding back and i couldnt controll it or bury it like before. i knew i wont finish high school either, and im gonna be a slave factory worker. (i wanted to be a biologist or archeologist in all my childhood. if shit didnt happen i’d probably got both degrees). i lost all my friends, my family had no idea and didnt want to know what im going through either. to them i was just a huge lazy antisocial disappointment. i was so alone with everything happening to me with no goal anymore… (i always had a shred of hope in primary school that im going to be someone great one day. that kept me going in the darkest times along with survival instinct). so, one snowy night in 2014’s december, i got a bunch of pills and went to sit outside in my shitty car at 2am. i was staring at the pills and literally looking for a reason to live for a few hours… well, i found one. my dog was born 3 weeks before that, and i didnt want to leave him alone, since that’d mean his death (people put down puppies that they cant keep around here). if it was up to my family or supposed friends i’d be fucking dead by now. dead at 15 years old, and they wouldn’t think they did anything wrong!.. fuck, it makes me more mad than sad. anyway, that dog is the reason im here today and that i got better. he slept next to me and when i woke up from a nightmare, i could always hug him. he noticed when i was having a flashback and managed to calm me down most of the time. whenever i was sad i could play with him, and actually enjoy life for a short time. he’s 4 years old now, and we’re inseparable. i owe him my life, and he owes his to me. i managed to get to 12th grade in night classes but ultimately couldnt finish high school since i quit before exams. complex ptsd almost makes me completely not able to have a job. i had 5 different workplaces since then and i quit all. im currently trying to apply to another and i’ll most probably get the job but im not sure if i’ll be able to keep it with my constant anxiety, flashbacks or panic attacks around people. my family still has no idea of whats happening to me. i will try cbd oil to calm myself during work and then i might be able to work more than a few weeks/months. and i got medicine for my insulin resistance so i can finally start losing weight if i have enough willpower.. all in all, im much better today than i was a few years ago. but it will never fully go away. i’ll always have flashbacks and nightmares, just smaller amount of them. im currently in a relationship, and i love my boyfriend very much. im trying my best not to mess it up, but he’s very patient and loves me with all my flaws. i have insidious battles about it with myself though. all my past relationships failed because of my trust issues, and im terribly afraid of someone i love hurting my feelings.. i feel like i just started to get better, and barely above the water still, so i might not be able to bear more pain. but im treating our relationship very well i think. he roughly knows about what happened to me. i didnt go into details because they were too painful and i didnt want to have a flashback again. but he loves me how i am.. he thinks im beautiful, helps me lose weight and gives support in all my issues (though there’ll always be things i wont share with anyone, and stuff that i have to overcome alone). i think i finally have hope again.

    whoever you are, thanks for reading my story.

    • Hi Orsi, it’s been a privilege to read your story. It’s a tragic one there’s no doubt about that. You have been horribly let down by the very people you should have been able to trust, your caregivers, teachers and parents. I know you don’t feel like this now but complex ptsd is treatable and with time and love you will get better. You sound like you have a stable friend in your life now who has your best interests at heart and is willing to help you in a geniune way and accept you for who you are. I would urge you to find a good therapist. It is very hard to handle that amount of trauma and process it yourself is almost impossible. There are good therapists out there. Contact the American Association of Pyschiatrists and find a local provider near you. Also there is a search engine on my blog with many useful articles on complex ptsd that might be of help to you. Please contact me with any questions you may have. All the best for the future. You are very brave to have got this far and you can make a full recovery. Erin

    • Hi Orsi, your horrible experiences are somewhat similar to mine (well, not really; my experiences are nothing when compared to yours). When I was in second grade, I became a target for bullies in my school. I fought back the first time, but the nuns saw me fighting and turned me in to the principal. She called my mother and my mother came and got me because I was suspended. My mother screamed at me the entire drive home and proceeded to whip me with a belt into the late hours because I was fighting (she told me it’s wrong to ever hit someone…I don’t know if she ever caught the irony of her statement). Anyways, after I went back to school I was terrified of defending myself and the bullies homed in like a shark sensing blood in the water. I didn’t fight back and the nuns sent me to the principal because one of the bullies said I started it. I tried to tell my mother what happened, but she whipped me anyway because, get this, I didn’t defend myself. I developed a bleeding ulcer by the time I was in fifth grade and, as a bonus, my mother began molesting me. She figured since I was “old enough”, I needed to learn about the birds and the bees. It started with me being forced to take off her bra and “massage” her; then we graduated to her “bathing” me and me “bathing” her. I remember the first time it happened like it was yesterday; I cried myself to sleep and late that same night she yanked me out of bed, stripped me and whipped my genitals with the buckle end of a belt, screaming at me that I was a pervert. I tried to kill myself by hanging in the garage when I was 13, but my grandfather walked in and saw me hanging, unconscious. He cut me down, called an ambulance and resuscitated me; the doctors scolded me for being dramatic and I was whipped by my mother because she had to pay a doctor bill because I was selfish and she had to replace my grandfather’s rope. I tried to run away but she called the police and said I stole some of her jewelry so I was arrested and she brought me home and whipped me for costing her money and embarrassment. When I go to high school I was a wreck; I skipped classes, avoided people who wanted to be my friend and generally just hid in plain sight, retreating into myself and being a zombie. I was thrown out the summer of my junior year of high school and was forced to make my way as best as I could. She wouldn’t let me get my clothes, my savings account book, nothing, so I did what I needed to do to survive. The long and short of that is, I spent more than a few nights in jail and lived on the street until the mother of one of the boys I was kinda friends with found me. She took me in, fed me, let me shower and gave me a change of clean clothes. If it hadn’t been for her I would most likely have died; she wanted to know everything and I didn’t want to tell her because I knew she would go to my mother and that would have ended badly; she didn’t go to my mother, though and, as it ended up, her son and I became very close friends and I lived with them until I graduated high school. I joined the military, even though I needed a felony waiver to get in, and I served 20 years on active duty (I left active duty in 2007). My mother still was a presence in my life after I joined and it wasn’t until the early 2000s that I finally mustered the courage to cut her completely out of my life. I struggle with PTSD (from childhood trauma and military combat) and depression still today and will for the rest of my life. The good thing is I found a wonderful woman who tries her best to understand and be compassionate and her family is nothing short of wonderfully awesome. I have nightmares and sometimes it feels like everything is a trigger, but I am getting help from the Veterans Administration and my wife plus her family are always there encouraging me and building up my confidence. I hope you find peace one day and can live again.

      • Hi Steve, what a terrible childhood you had. You are a remarkable man to have survived and given 30 years active duty. I am so glad you have found a supportive partner and family. That is just fantastic. I too have a wonderful partner and four beautiful children who keep me going and bring some much-needed love into my life. What your Mother did was reprehensible. No child should be treated in such a way. I hope you can find peace someday and recover and live life to its fullest. You so deserve to. If you ever need support we have a closed online private Facebook Group for those who have been abused in childhood and have PTSD/CPTSD. You might find it helpful. Here is the link. Thanks for getting in touch. It’s been good to hear from you and I appreciate you telling me your sad story. Thanks for sharing. Good luck in the future. Erin

  3. I just want to thank you for putting g this out there. Sadly it means a lot to know I am not the only one suffering in this way. I turn 36 in 4 days and I am deeply considering “packing it in” my friends whom take care of me swear I am not a burden but I resent myself more with each passing day. The shame guilt multiplies exponentially. I just want it to be over.

    • Hi Joe, even though Complex PTSD is a lonely journey our friends do want to help and we have to let them. If your friends are saying you are not a burden, you have to believe them. I know it’s hard when you are probably depressed and so lonely within yourself and finding it hard to see outside the painful black box that CPTSD creates. Trust your friends, confide in those closest to you. Do you have professional support? I would urge you to talk to a professional if not? You are obviously a valued human being to your friends and would be dearly missed by them. There is a closed and private Facebook page for support, discussion and information for CPTSD and child abuse survivors called Youwillbearwitness which you might find useful. Here is the link Please don’t hesitate to contact me again Joe. All the best Erin

I would love to hear from you so please leave a comment. All feedback is much appreciated. Thank you. Erin

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