My purpose in starting “Thriving with CPTSD” and what I hope will come from it

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*Disclaimer: I am not a therapist or a mental health expert. I am a survivor of child abuse who has studied CPTSD and its effects in order to understand what was going on with my own brain and how to heal from it. Whenever possible, I will link back to experts and studies so you can draw your own conclusions.

My Medium journey began as a personal journal. As a writer, I often turned to journaling to express my feelings, document events, and try to process difficult moments in my life. Often, in trying to make sense of what was…


Embarking on a Ketamine journey to end my depression and anxiety

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If you’ve read any of my other articles, you’ll notice that most of them chronicle parts of my nearly 3-year journey through the hell of major depression. There’s a reason for that — it had completely taken over my life. I’ve battled depression off and on all my life. But a cosmically orchestrated squall of life changes hit me at a vulnerable time and pushed me to a place I wasn’t able to escape.

At first, I tried to heal on my own, pushing myself to stay social and…


What if my childhood wasn’t really “that bad”?

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There are many misconceptions and conflicting opinions around the exact causes of CPTSD or complex post-traumatic stress disorder. Most experts on the diagnosis agree that it is typically long-term exposure to trauma in childhood. But what constitutes trauma? How severe does the trauma have to be? And why do some children who experience trauma not go on to develop these symptoms?

The answers are complex and still being debated. But one thing to keep in mind is that although our brains all function in about the same way, they are as varied as the people who house them. …


But my trauma brain convinced me that I did

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Something came across my Instagram feed today that stopped me in my tracks. I often get inspirational quotes from accounts I follow, but this struck a chord with me that I wasn’t prepared for.

I am a survivor of childhood trauma, and although I’ve been in therapy off and on since I was a teenager, it has only been the last few years that I have begun to understand how my trauma has shaped and steered my life. Sometimes in excruciatingly devastating ways.

I was finally diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) 2 years ago, and my journey to…


The antidote is radical self-acceptance

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My mother is one of my greatest supporters. She often tells me how proud she is of me and how she respects the woman and mother I have become. And she has supported my decision to share my CPTSD journey publicly. Recently, after reading one of my articles about my traumatic childhood, she tried to comfort me and make sure I knew how lovable and worthy I am, but unfortunately chose her words poorly. “You know, your father loved you very much. He just couldn’t show it.” She just wanted me to know that his abuse and subsequent abandonment didn’t…


My Mental Health Journey with CPTSD

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I have found a great deal of relief writing about my mental health journey over the years. At first, I journaled for myself. When I found myself at the end of my rope trying to figure out what the hell was wrong with me, I wrote it down. When I made connections and had epiphanies, I wrote them down. When I was too scared to share but still needed to use my voice, I wrote it down. But I didn’t share it for many years.

Eventually, I shared my writing with my husband, who was supportive even if he didn’t…


Are you experiencing the long-term effects of chronic trauma?

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I first heard about Complex-Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or CPTSD almost two years ago and was startled at how much sense it made in explaining my lifelong symptoms and struggles. It took another six months of research to discover how it was the core of so many of my issues.

CPTSD or complex post-traumatic stress disorder is similar to PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) but with additional symptoms. Dr. Judith Herman, a pioneer in trauma research, first suggested CPTSD as a separate diagnosis. …


Sharing self-help memes can say a lot about your perspective and understanding of mental health

How about, “I have empathy for people in trauma recovery because it’s exhausting and terrifying, especially when it’s all you’ve ever known. And it takes deep work to strip that away and discover who you are.”

When this popped up on an acquaintance’s Facebook page, at first I rolled my eyes. Were they saying, “Just quit being a victim?” I scrolled past, but the more I thought about it, the more frustrated I got. An average person might take this meme as a generalized statement about taking control of your mental health. About not building your identity around your suffering. What’s the big deal?

The person who posted this meme is a generally caring, supportive person who has a pretty good knowledge of abuse and trauma. I don’t think she actually meant to shame anyone. Maybe…


Why you can’t beat yourself up for not healing in a straight line.

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My anxiety has been through the roof for five days now, and I’m afraid. I panic any time I feel the familiar pull of depression or anxiety, wondering if this is the beginning of my backslide into the abyss. I have to remind myself that it’s no longer the same slippery slope, and I’m going to be ok.

But I’m also angry. I have worked so hard to understand and learn how to make friends with my anxiety. Yet all the tools I’ve tried this week only offer temporary relief. Talking, journaling, meditating, exercise, breathing; they all work, but only…


Concluding my Ketamine therapy for depression and anxiety

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The depression relief from my first Ketamine infusion lasted about 4 days. The second lasted about a week. I had hope knowing it was working, but I was worried the relief wasn’t lasting longer. Research shows that repeated ketamine infusions have cumulative and sustained antidepressant effects, which my doctor had noted in his own patients. This reassured me enough to keep trying.

Developing a routine for the infusion helped me make the most of each one. I preselected music beforehand. Sometimes gentle meditation music, sometimes binaural beats. …

Shannon N

Finding myself even though I didn’t realize I was lost. Teacher, mother, wife, woman, survivor.

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