Trauma is everywhere, and once you learn to see it you can't unsee it.
When you’re exposed to an event that’s so distressing that you can’t emotionally process it you develop trauma. Untreated, unhealed trauma can turn into PTSD.
When you’re exposed to a prolonged period of feeling unsafe, where you can’t control it, you develop complex trauma. Untreated, complex trauma can turn into CPTSD.
These conditions are slightly different in terms of how they present. With PTSD, exposure to a trigger can cause a flashback — this means your body feels like it did during the traumatic event. This flashback can be associated with memories of the event.
With CPTSD the flashbacks are more nuanced. Because there’s not a specific concrete event to attach the memory to, your body is flashing back to the emotional state you lived in while you weren’t safe. This can be really scary.
In either case, flashbacks can inhibit your ability to utilize your higher brain functions. You may speak and act in ways that you’d never choose to speak and act. You may enter fight-or-flight(-or-freeze-or-fawn) mode, where your behavior and actions are dictated by your primary trauma response. Your heart speeds up, you sweat, you’re afraid and anxious and you can’t quite think straight. You have a vague sense of impending doom and nothing you do can stop it.
This experience is horrific, and the more you come to understand trauma the more you understand how many people in the world are simply living out their trauma and reacting to life rather than self actualizing and responding to it.
The good news is that most trauma can be healed. You can’t make it so that the bad things never happened, but you can take away the trauma’s ability to harm you. See some of these resources to learn how.
This book put me on the path towards healing. Written in the early 90s Pete gets a few things wrong about Neurodiversity (No, ADHD is NOT a trauma response, though avoidant behavior can be) but offers a rich and productive model for engaging with complex PTSD. Pete’s work has helped me to heal a ton of my damage.
I think I’m pretty great and have interesting thoughts and infodumps. More seriously, I am a late diagnosed AuDHDer who is trained as an ADHD coach. I Tweet a lot about my experiences and realizations. It’s not an option in the neurotypes, but I’m also dyspraxic. Sometimes I talk about being a dyspraxic aerialist and how I do movement things I like while being clinically uncoordinated.
Rin is an open source software contributor and Technical Community Builder who is multiply neurodivergent. Is an advocate for increasing equity, and accessibility for neurodivergent individuals in tech.
I'm neurodivergent (diagnosed with cPTSD a year ago, on top of an existing diagnosis of severe depression). And also I've been spending a lot of time and effort lately thinking about the most efficient ways to accomplish clear and complete communication, including starting my own social media site dedicated to exploring and promoting that idea not just by cultural norms on my server, but by developing tech to help “nudge” people towards generally good behavior with each other.
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