When I looked through the search terms that have brought you to my site this week, I found some terms that have given me pause.  I would like to respond to some of these search terms—

·    How long does therapy take for Complex PTSD?

I am assuming that the person who searched for the answer to this question was trying to find out how long it takes to heal Complex PTSD.  The answer to this question is that the healing period varies.  I know this is not the reply the person wanted, most likely.  And I would like to reply by saying that the healing period takes two years or three years or four years, but I can’t realistically or honestly do that.

From what I have learned and based upon my own experience, healing PTSD can take place over an entire lifetime, to one degree or another.  Now, this may appear discouraging, but let me explain. . .

For most of us, probably, becoming burdened with the condition called C-PTSD has taken a long time.  For me, it took the first 42 years of my life because I was repeatedly traumatized as a baby and child, the first 18 years of my life.  I went from a traumatic childhood, then, into a marriage in which I was repeatedly abused for another twenty years.

Thus, it took about 42 years for the C-PTSD to build up and affect my life.  From 1980-1983 I saw my first therapist, and she helped me survive my traumatic marriage.  She provided support when I called the police to report my husband’s abuse of our daughter; she supported me as I picked up the pieces of my life and learned to be a single mom and lost my job, and she saw me through the final stages of my divorce.  Between 1983 and 2010, I saw a series of therapists who varied in their skills and abilities to help me.  They may have been, for the most part, supportive, but they did not really help me specifically heal from C-PTSD.  Then, in 2010, I began seeing the person I am seeing now and have been actively healing.

So, to respond to question of how long does it take to heal, I can only say that it takes as long as it takes.  However, with each increment of healing comes a new sense of life without C-PTSD.  Therefore, each step forward in your process brings with it its own rewards.  For example, it took me a year of working with Ego State Therapy to get the flashbacks and other nasty symptoms alleviated to the point where they didn’t plague me daily.  If I had stopped therapy at that point, I would have been ahead of where I was when I began.  But I wanted to go farther, so I continued in therapy.  My goal is to do what I can do in therapy to prevent backsliding and to make my last years of life as productive as possible without the symptoms of PTSD.  However, I accept the fact that my healing process will continue, with or without therapy, for the rest of my life.  That statement is as tough to write as it is to read, but it is realistic.

·    Complex PTSD and domestic violence

I’m assuming that the person who wrote this search term was trying to find information about the relationship between C-PTSD and domestic violence.  Here is my “nonprofessional” response:

In my case, I can see a direct relationship between the abuse I suffered as a child and the abuse I suffered during my marriage.  The childhood abuse taught me to turn inward and accept that I was stupid, I was worthless, and I was to blame for every bad thing that happened to me.  I deserved everything bad that was done to me.  Everyone else knew what was good for me or best for me better than I did.  I was the only person who had no power over me or what happened to me.

You can see how the above lessons I learned in childhood taught me to be a good, compliant victim of a person who was determined to victimize me.  When I walked in on my husband as he sexually victimized our daughter, however, I awoke to reality and stopped the whole dynamics.  I thought of her and not of myself, and I knew she did not deserve to be abused.  Maybe I deserved to be abused, but my daughter did not deserve that treatment.  Then I called the police and reported my husband’s behavior.  By taking this action, I took my first step down the road to healing.  Not only that, but I helped free my daughter from the chains of C-PTSD.

The above, then, is my view of the relationship between domestic violence and  C-PTSD.  I became a victim of domestic violence when I was a child, and because I had no professional mental health help as a child, I went on in life to become an adult victim in an abusive marriage.  Forty-two years of abuse=C-PTSD.

·    Complex PTSD why now?

I am assuming that the person who typed this into the search engine wanted to know why C-PTSD might manifest itself at a time that may seem puzzling.  Maybe the person who wrote this has been happily married or happily retired, has a relatively non-traumatizing environment, and is in a situation where trauma may be the last thing he or she thinks about.

I’ve been there!  I’ve wondered “why now?”  My marriage with its active abuse ended in 1983.  It was in about 2009 when I had the horrendous flashback that caused me to seek help this time.  My life had been fairly peaceful and productive from the year 1983 until 2009.  I’d had a career I loved, and I was retired and doing things I wanted to do.  Nobody was hassling me, and life was good.  Or so I thought.  When I had the flashback in 2009, I realized that something was going on that I needed to take care of in order to enjoy the last decade or two of my life, and that is what I am still in the process of doing.

I asked my therapist one day “why now?”  She could not give me a definite answer, and I can understand why she couldn’t.  Each person’s psyche is different, and each person has a different innate sort of PTSD “time bomb.”  At some point, if a person has not gotten effective help for the horrors of past abuse, the PTSD “time bomb” will explode and let the person—and perhaps everyone in his or her environment!–know that the time has come to do something about his or her internal situation.  Something will trigger the symptoms that may have lain dormant for years or for decades, and the person either denies the situation and doesn’t do anything about the symptoms or the person decides to get effective, competent help to heal.  For more about this, please see my own story on http://www.jfairgrieve.com.

The above search phrases were the three that I felt were most in need of a response.  I’ve done my best as a nonprofessional to give you my responses.  I hope this helps.

Perhaps these words will help:

“Come to the edge.”
“We can’t. We’re afraid.”
“Come to the edge.”
“We can’t. We will fall!”
“Come to the edge.”
And they came.
And he pushed them.
And they flew.

Guillaume Apollinaire,   1880-1918
French Poet, Philosopher