Healing Complex PTSD in Women: Post Traumatic Growth

How are you? Do you know? Or have you been avoiding, compartmentalizing, and suppressing your pain for so long it’s hard to know how you really feel?

You do know you’re a survivor.

But can you really recover from such long-term trauma?

The answer is yes. Yes, you can overcome your daily pain, numbness, or despair. Complex Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is not who you are. It is not built in. But it feels like it.

You can feel it in your body and know it somehow permeates your actions and interactions. But you don’t know how to change.

That’s why you need help. That’s why it’s good that you’re here.

Post traumatic growth is possible. You can heal. You can find enough relief and respite to ultimately find the freedom to thrive.

Complex PTSD and Women:

Complex PTSD is a cluster of intense responses learned due to prolonged or long-term trauma.

Women and children are inordinately impacted because a large number of Complex PTSD sufferers are victimized in captive or seemingly inescapable situations like ongoing physical/sexual abuse and assault, trafficking and exploitation rings, relational abuse and domestic violence circumstances, etc.

Essentially, the disorder affecting your life so profoundly stems from emotional or physical captivity. You were controlled and convinced you could not escape. That experience changed you and your perceptions.

Statistically, these situations affect men in smaller numbers.

Furthermore, studies show that women are consistently more likely to meet criteria for PTSD and complex PTSD. Experts find that women experience more severe symptoms than men who experienced the same traumatic events. Why? Scientists indicate that women think and process trauma differently and more acutely.

So don’t judge yourself harshly. Your whole self-concept was altered. Your ability to adapt to stressful events was compromised.

The research indicates, too, that Complex PTSD can manifest with the standard PTSD symptoms, as well as depressive disorders, personality disorders, and somatic disorders like fibromyalgia or digestive ailments like IBS, or Crohn’s disease.

Many women cope by avoiding trauma-related thoughts and topics to squelch overwhelm.

Perhaps you’ve tried to numb out with food, substance, or even self-harm. Only to be judged by others who don’t understand what you’re living with. Maybe you’ve judged your own behavior harshly too?.

To heal, you’ll need to journey past the place where you’ve been held hostage.

It’s time for a complete rescue of your body and mind.

Healing through Post Traumatic Growth (PTG)

The helping hand you’ll need first is that of your therapist.

You need a safe, knowledgeable, experienced guide through this process. He or she will need to provide you treatment that is relevant, effective, compassionate, and committed to your Post traumatic growth.

It’s perfectly okay to ensure your choice of therapist is capable of guiding you. Ask questions to gauge his or her expertise and ability to help facilitate your PTG.

Ask how he or she understands and defines Complex PTSD. How many survivors he or she has treated? Determine the methods they use and whether they know how to help you feel safe and deal with co-occurring conditions like addiction or dissociation you may struggle with.

Next, you’ll need a clear understanding of what post traumatic growth looks like.

Dr. Judith Herman of Harvard University, an expert in Complex PTSD, believes that recovery comes through the restoration of control and power. Soothing relationships foster safety, which assists awareness and mourning, these then allow for reconnection and engagement with everyday life.

Essentially, the goal is to experience positive change through your trauma. According to recent research, Post Traumatic Growth generally occurs in 5 key ways as you process your trauma:

  • You develop a sense of possibility, opportunity, and new beginnings that come from your struggle. Your relationships with others start to change.
  • You may become closer to specific people and /or simply feel more connected to other sufferers.
  • A noticeable uptick in feelings of personal strength and the ability to face whatever comes occurs.
  • A previously absent appreciation for life, in general, is often attributed to posttraumatic growth as well.
  • A final area of growth involves the spiritual aspects of yourself. Your beliefs may deepen, or shift considerably.

Women & Post Traumatic Growth

Why is healing possible and PTG amplified in women?

Scientists say, women generally process traumatic events with a more emotion-focused coping style. Basically, you are more likely to think about things and react in ways that are designed to help you manage distress and maintain emotional balance.

Since post-traumatic growth stems from actively trying to deal with long-term trauma (by thinking about it, attempting to make sense of it, and working through it) your natural emotion-focused coping approach is an ideal way to engage.

Of course, all of this means one thing. You can get better and feel better.

It doesn’t mean you don’t hurt or won’t be challenged significantly as you face your trauma once and for all. But your growth and healing can happen with a compassionate therapist by your side and change as your goal.

If you would like some extra support and are looking for a psychotherapist, please contact me here for a free 30-minute consultation to learn about how I can be of service.

To find out more about my services click here: PTSD Treatment

About The Author

April Lyons, MA, LPC is a somatic psychotherapist and currently owns a private practice in Boulder, CO. She specializes in PTSD, eating disorders and child counseling. April is trained in EMDR Therapy, Trauma Informed Care, and is certified as a Eating Disorder Intuitive Therapist. To find out more about April click herePsychotherapy Boulder.

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