Take the C-PTSD Quiz Now

Take the C-PTSD Quiz Now

Have you been in a toxic relationship with a narcissist? If so, you might have also be at risk for complex post-traumatic stress disorder. Most people have heard of PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. A disorder often diagnosed in soldiers, PTSD happens, on the most basic level, when someone has difficulty recovering after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event, such as the horrors often reported from the battlefield. It may also happen when someone witnesses a murder, has a car accident or experiences another type of short-term or single event trauma. But not everyone knows about C-PTSD, or Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. C-PTSD is often seen in abuse survivors, and it is sometimes referred to as Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome in the online narcissistic abuse recovery community.

Take the C-PTSD Quiz

Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Self-Assessment – Do you think you have C-PTSD? Take this test and find out if you might be a victim of this pervasive disorder.

 

Ready to get results on your C-PTSD Quiz? Press “Ready to Send” and scroll down for results. 

What is Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

While C-PTSD is closely related to PTSD, it refers to a reaction to longer-term trauma that can take place repeatedly or continuously over the course of weeks, months or years.

Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) is a serious mental health condition affecting a large percentage of victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse and other types of ongoing trauma. Symptoms for C-PTSD are similar to PTSD but also include other symptoms that can lead to significant impairment in relationships and your quality of life.

This disorder can take years to treat and many professionals aren’t familiar with its symptoms or misdiagnose it. They may even victim-blame if they aren’t familiar with the subtle tricks of a narcissist. Unfortunately, it can be a lifelong condition, but it can be managed with mindfulness and behavior modification, among other therapies and modalities.

What are the Symptoms of Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

According to the Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders, the symptoms of complex post-traumatic stress disorder are as follows:

  • Rage displayed through violence, destruction of property, or theft
  • Depression, denial, fear of abandonment, thoughts of suicide, anger issues
  • Low self-esteem, panic attacks, self-loathing
  • Perfectionism, blaming others instead of dealing with a situation, selective memory
  • Loss of faith in humanity, distrust, isolation, inability to form close personal relationships
  • Shame, guilt, focusing on wanting revenge
  • Flashbacks, memory repression, dissociation
  • Eating disorders, substance abuse, alcoholism, promiscuity
  • Chronic pain
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Gastrointestinal problems.
  • Migraines

As a survivor of narcissistic abuse, you may also experience dissociation, which is a separation of normally related mental processes. Dissociation manifests as brain fog, or feeling disconnected from reality. Sometimes developed as a trauma response, it offers a victim a way to “get away” in their mind. Dissociation can in extreme cases lead to multiple personality disorder or dissociative identity disorder.

Another common symptom for survivors of narcissistic abuse is the avoidance of certain social situations, including a feeling of not wanting to leave the house  You might also find yourself prone to triggers and flashbacks to your abuse, among other things.

This video playlist offers an overview of complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD), including symptoms and how to overcome them.

How is Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) Treated?

There are a number of different treatments available for people with C-PTSD, and no one treatment will work for everyone. Each situation and each person is different. We do find that survivors are best served by therapists who have had similar experiences (and who therefore have a deeper understanding of their situations). Coaches can also be effective when they’ve shared similar experiences and have had appropriate training adn there aren’t other mental health issues. Additionally, coaching can be an ideal complement or followup to an ongoing therapy relationship.

  • Traditional “Talk Therapy” – Talking it through for C-PTSD patients is sometimes the best way to treat the disorder. Counselors and psychotherapists that are specially trained in PTSD treatment can usually help the person find closure for the traumatic incident that has caused such a lifestyle change.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – This type of therapy helps a C-PTSD patient realize that events that took place weren’t his fault and helps alleviate feelings of guilt. A therapist listens to the PTSD patient describe the traumatic event(s) in detail and then helps the person understand the incident and why it happened.
  • Coaching – When the person suffering from C-PTSD is otherwise mentally stable, a good narcissistic abuse recovery coach can help them discover the answers they seek and learn new coping techniques for dealing with the issues that come along with it. This can work together with or independently from traditional therapies.

Read about more treatments for C-PTSD right here.

 

When Abuse Makes You Forget How to Talk About Yourself

When Abuse Makes You Forget How to Talk About Yourself


Communication as we all know is incredibly important in any relationship, but when we’ve been involved with narcissists, even the most skilled communicators can feel helpless and handicapped when it comes to being understood – narcissists will inevitably refuse to understand us, especially when what we’re saying is not something like “OMG, you’re so amazing.”

For example, try telling a narcissist exactly how you feel about the way they belittle and invalidate you – and watch how they twist the conversation around. In some of the most extreme cases, you will end up apologizing for not thinking they’re perfect and for having the nerve to even suggest otherwise.

And, when we go through years of this, not to mention that narcissists often isolate their victims from others who might actually offer some support, we sort of forget HOW to communicate – in a way. We stop feeling like we can (or even should) talk about OURSELVES, and we stop trying to make valuable contributions to conversations, in part because we’ve been conditioned to believe that we have nothing of value to say and nothing to offer.

We believe that we’re not good enough and that no one wants to hear what we have to say anyway. When we do speak up, we tend to keep it short and to the point when it relates to ourselves or our own opinions or beliefs.

There was a time in my life when, if you asked me a question about myself, I might not even know WHAT to say, or even if I did, I’d feel awkward saying it and wanted to get the attention off me as soon as possible.

This was because I had been conditioned to think that nothing about me was interesting or even worth hearing about.

When we go through narcissistic abuse, we might find ourselves dealing with depression.

We might also develop other issues – various compulsive behaviors, or an eating disorder or substance abuse problem, because sometimes, we try to sort of  ‘self-medicate” to deal with our issues.

We could have flashbacks or panic attacks, and we will most definitely deal with a certain amount of self-doubt. Some of us experience suicidal thoughts – and in the worst cases, some people find themselves seeking or even carrying out the abuse they experienced as a child. On the flip side of that, you may go so far in the other direction that you are a different kind of unhealthy – for example, an abused child who grows up to be a doormat parent (as in, allowing your kids to become spoiled and run the show). It’s a fine line, isn’t it?

But back to communication.

There are certain issues that can directly affect our ability to communicate after this kind of abuse – and as always, I’m going to tell you that I believe knowledge is power – and the first step to power is to realize there’s a problem. We’ve got to first discover it and then admit it if we’re ever going to heal.

So, after abuse, the issues that might affect your ability to communicate are multifaceted. The first one I’d like to outline is our heightened reactions to various common relationship issues – we may become triggered over something small, such as an innocently-used phrase that used to mean something awful. Example from one of my clients: her narcissist would always say “Who are you trying to impress?” So when she was later in a healthy relationship, this same phrase uttered by her new partner triggered her and caused her to revert for a moment to her “former self,” the abused self.

This leads to my next point: emotionally-fueled disagreements. When we’re healing, we don’t always know how to deal with conflict and we may get overly emotional when we don’t mean to. Going back to the client I just mentioned, in that situation, her trigger led her to an emotionally-fueled discussion with her new guy – but in his healthy state, he actually calmed her down by validating her and reminding her that it was okay to be emotional sometimes, and then by comforting her and HEARING her (IMAGINE!).

We may also withdraw and become unresponsive when triggered by our old issues, which obviously affects our ability to communicate, and we almost always feel a serious aversion to conflict. This can lead to an inability to talk through our issues especially if we feel judged or like the person we’re communicating with is somehow not on our side.

We may always have a lingering doubt about how our partners in the future feel about us and sometimes doubt their faithfulness, especially when our narcissists include romantic partners in the past.

And thanks to the fact that many of us have never felt loved unconditionally, we often find ourselves having difficulty accepting any love at all – we are suspicious of people who try to offer it to us and we often need repeated reassurance of the fact that someone cares about us.

This of course can push people away from us and isolate us even further, which will make communication even harder.

So how can we get over this? What can we do to improve our ability to communicate after abuse?

First of all, you have to let go of the fear and start with the basics. Let me ask you a few questions.

Do you dread talking to strangers or those you barely know? Some people seem to be born with the gift of gab. They talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime, about anything. By understanding a few strategies and putting in a little practice, you can talk to anyone with ease, too. You don’t have to be mesmerizing. You just have to convince the other person they are.


A successful social conversation puts the emphasis on your conversation partner. It’s also a highly effective way to sell products and services.

You can become an excellent conversationalist, even after narcissistic abuse. Try these tips.

1. Make a good first impression. People make a lot of conclusions about you before you ever open your mouth. Conveying the message that you’re friendly, confident, and relevant provides a huge advantage. People will naturally want to engage with you and will listen to what you have to say.

  • * Stand or sit up straight. Put on your best confident smile. Look them in the eye.

2. Pay attention. Everyone wants to matter. By giving your conversation partner your full attention, you can accomplish that with ease. Avoid looking at your watch, your phone, or scanning the room. Keep your attention on the other person.

3. Avoid worrying about what you’ll say next. This could easily fall under the previous point, but deserves specific attention. Are you one of those people that’s viewed as socially awkward? That’s because you’re worried about what you’re going to say next. You’re not listening intently to the other person.

  • * When your mind is furiously working to think of something to say, you become fidgety, your eye contact wavers, and your anxiety is obvious. It makes others uncomfortable. Just listen, and the other person will give you plenty of material to move the conversation forward.

4. Turn the spotlight on the other person. You’ll find that your most successful conversations will be about the other person. People love it when you show an interest in them. Keep turning the conversation toward the other person, their interests, and opinions. Your new friend will greatly enjoy the conversation.

5. Worried about running out of things to say? Repeat the last few words of your conversation partner.

  • * “So, you went scuba diving on the great barrier reef?” Then just sit back and relax.

6. Always have something interesting to say. You will have to contribute something interesting to the conversation on occasion. Be prepared. You wouldn’t blindly reach into a dark closet and wear the first thing your hand touched. There’s no reason to blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. Be prepared.

  • * Watch the news before you head out the door and be aware of the latest global and local happenings.
  • * Have a story or two prepared.

7. Expect success. Your expectations and results match more often than not. Expect to have a good conversation. Believe that you’re a great conversationalist. Visualize conversational success.

8. Give one sincere compliment. Avoid making a direct compliment, because it can be potentially awkward and begs for a response.

  • * “You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen” is too much.
  • * “Wow, you obviously work out. What type of exercise do you do?” is very complimentary without going too far.
  • * One sincere compliment is enough.
  • Even after abuse, you can learn conversation skills – or re-learn them. 
Believe it or not: This is THE Most Soul-Crushing Part of Narcissistic Abuse

Believe it or not: This is THE Most Soul-Crushing Part of Narcissistic Abuse

“Everybody is looking for validation, no matter who you are, and I think that’s a need of the human condition – to look for affection or recognition or validation.” ~Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

If you are or have ever been involved in any sort of relationship with a toxic narcissist, there’s a chance that you’ve been educating yourself on what you’re dealing with.

Between the gaslighting, the narcissistic rage and narcissistic injury and the flying monkeys of it all, you’re probably thinking you already know the worst part of being in this awful situation.

But the truth is that all of the name calling, verbal cut-downs and narcissistic control that you deal with are only the beginning – and as horribly painful as they can feel, the absolute worst part of being mentally and emotionally abused by a narcissist comes down to one thing: the devalue phase.

Why do I say this? I mean, after all, we already know that every part of the narcissistic abuse cycle can literally become debilitating.

But, it’s about more than that – it’s about validation.

I’ll elaborate in this video:

It’s when you talk and you get only grunts in response. Nothing that actually indicates the narc has heard you or understood you – just a pause and a breath.

He’s just waiting until it’s his turn to talk again, after all. He could care less what’s happening inside your head – he only wants to know that you’re there for him.

If you think back, you might remember that, if you asked him (or he volunteered) how he felt about you, he always said things like:

  • I love the way you make me feel.
  • I love how you always listen.
  • I love that you’re always there when I need you.
  • I love how you take care of me.
  • Etc.

See how there wasn’t really anything about YOU PERSONALLY there?

And it’s not that you should really care or even feel offended – I mean, it’s just the narcissist’s “way” right?

Well, that would be the case if you didn’t seem to catch the narc appearing to genuinely connect with other people when he’s more of a brick wall when it comes to understanding YOU.

He will be nice to them. He will seem to have empathy for them and if you dare to even bat an eyelash the wrong way in regard to those people? He will tell you HOW THEY FEEL! And still, when it comes to you, the narc seems to have a blind spot, as far as you can tell.

But then you start to wonder. What’s so bad about me? Am I really as (insert insulting lie here – crazy/lazy/ugly/bitchy/stupid, etc.) the narc says I am?

So, by devaluing and disregarding you with those subtle little behaviors, the narcissist achieves his goal: to beat you down emotionally and mold you into the good little supply he wants.

And once he does, the happiness you hope he’ll find will never quite arrive. Because the more you try to become perfect for a narcissist, the more he loses respect for you.

Over time, he will have you believing that you’re not even an actual human who even deserves to be treated with even the most basic dignity. And you will find yourself acting in kind as you desperately seek to justify it to yourself with thoughts of personal change and self-sacrifice.

You rack your brain on ways YOU can change in order to elicit change from him.

But here’s the thing – none of that will matter unless both people are willing to give.

You can only change so much without any reciprocation at all. Compromise means two parties come to mutually agreeable resolution in which both parties get what they want. Otherwise it’s just you giving and giving and him taking. Feel me?

Now it’s your turn – what do you think? Is validation one of the biggest things you’re missing when it comes to your relationship with a narcissist? Are you forgetting who you are? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments and let’s discuss it. 

Narcissistic Abuse Recovery: How to Sniff Out a Love Bomber (Video)

Narcissistic Abuse Recovery: How to Sniff Out a Love Bomber (Video)

Are you being love-bombed by a toxic narcissist?

If so, you might have experienced the phenomenon known as “love bombing,” which is yet another form of manipulation that a narcissist uses to reel in his victims. (more…)

Toxic Relationship Recovery: Find Your Inner Strength After Narcissistic Abuse

Toxic Relationship Recovery: Find Your Inner Strength After Narcissistic Abuse

Ever feel like you’re just kind of weak? If you do, you’re not alone – and this is especially the case for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse in relationships.Here is how you find your inner strength in narcissistic relationships

So, you might want to be a roaring lion, but you feel like a weak little kitten, right?

I feel you – and listen – I’ve been there. In fact, that’s kinda why I do what I do! It’s also why I created the free Post-Gaslighting Emergency Recovery Kit (PERK), a sort of “first aid” kit for your soul designed to be used directly after a gaslighting attac.

Are you hanging by a thread?

The fact is that when we go actively searching for ways to sort of “beef up” our inner strength, it’s because we’re in a state of helplessness – almost like we’re hanging on by a thread and feel like if we don’t get a stronger hold on our emotions and confidence, we could lose everything.

Inner strength is defined by each person uniquely. You might see it as simply being able to say no when you want to, while another person might consider it living life in a way where every action and emotion you have is geared toward your happiness.

You and me? We were born with inner strength. We all were.

See, when we’re first born, we are void of excuses – of negative thought patterns about ourselves or life in general. There’s nothing we can’t do. You’ve seen babies and toddlers move about in the world – they do it with no fear. They attempt things without thinking of consequences.

So, we should all be fearless, then, right? Well yeah, kinda.

Obviously, that kind of carelessness can have a negative impact on you as well, so there’s definitely a health balance between not caring and caring so much that outside factors cripple or paralyze you.

Related: How to Identify and Manage Dissociation in Narcissistic Relationships

We Allow Events and People to Chip Away at Our Inner Strength

It doesn’t just dissipate like steam rising from a boiling pot. Inner strength is envied by others, and ignored by tragedies that we go through. In order for this to occur we have to hand over a certain amount of permission allowing it to happen.

As children, we’re taught that other people have power over us to some degree – teachers, parents – any and all authority figures. We’re taught to play nice and cave in to some activities and elements of life we may not enjoy just to be polite.

And, if we’re enmeshed in relationships with toxic narcissists, there’s another icky side effect:

We Become People Pleasers

It’s hard to grow out of that mindset, but kids usually take a path when they reach the teen years – and it continues on throughout adulthood.

As a teen, you either were labeled headstrong (which translates into inner strength), or not labeled at all – because people without inner strength are barely noticeable. They go along with whatever expectations people have of them.

Sometimes even if someone starts out on the right path – of having ample inner strength – they can lose it as they let their defenses down and allow other people to deeply influence them. Or, they go through a series of situations that bring them to their knees and with every encounter, they’re a little less strong.

Inner Strength Can Always Be Replenished

No matter how often you feel like you’ve been knocked down or that you’re unable to face a situation, you will always have a spark of inner strength ignited in your soul. Sometimes it will be a large flame and sometimes you’ll wonder if it’s gone for good.

When you are relentlessly gaslighted by a narc, you find yourself feeling numb, despondent, depressed – all signs of PTSD.

But it’s in there. You simply have to fan the flames and focus on it to get it back.

Like a muscle that’s atrophied, your inner strength has to be flexed for it to work again. It has to be used on a regular basis – tested so that it becomes a force that’s able to protect you from harm and lift you to heights you never knew were possible.

Stand up, pull up your panties and throw on your favorite outfit. And let’s do this – be strong because you CAN. Be strong because you must. Be strong, and get ready to take back your life!

You might also like to read Take Back Your Power: How to End People Pleasing, Stop Letting Life Happen to You and Start Getting What You Want.

What do you think? How do you manage to dig deep enough to find your inner strength? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

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