My new (private) C-PTSD (Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) therapist (who I will be seeing for the first time on Thursday) said on the telephone that 'anxiety' isn't the best term for the physical vice-like grip that C-PTSD can produce in your upper chest. 'Fear' is a better term. Constant, 'red alert', holding-your-breath, ice-cold fear.
That made sense to me.
Relaxation techniques, mindfulness and hypnotherapy tapes are aimed at getting you to relax and free yourself from feelings of anxiety or worry.
My feeling is very different and very physical. And it is in my chest, not in my head. Sometimes it's in my stomach, too, but it's mainly around the centre chest area.
Kind of holding-your-breath fear as you prepare you mind and body for some sudden threat that could come at any second.
Or at any rate that's the way it's manifested itself with me: the primary symptom that results in poor sleep quality and 2 or 3 nightmares every night.
This is also why all the relaxation medication doesn't really work. I can relax for England and yet not be free from this 24/7 physical vice-like grip of fear that's there because, somehow, I got 'stuck'. The fear that I felt for 18 months or so, 24/7/365, has stayed with me, despite the fact that there no longer anything to fear.
Hopefully this fear is what my new therapist will be working on.
Successfully, I hope.
It's so reassuring to know that he 'gets it'. He seems to have a true understanding of what C-PTSD can be like and, consequently, how it can be treated, because C-PTSD is treatable.
C-PTSD isn't something that relaxation techniques or medication can cure - and evidence has proved that this is the case. The same goes for psychotherapy / the 'talking treatment'.
In my opinion even CBT (which is often used for PTSD) can't ever be more than yet another sticking plaster when it comes to C-PTSD - another method that may offer temporary respite from the constant physical grip of fear.
So far, over the past four years, I have been offered a combination of many the above from the NHS - none of which has worked. Probably because they will never work for chronic trauma symptoms. So it's not surprising that my C-PTSD is worse than ever.
The most recent course of treatment has been EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) which is evidence-based for PTSD. The problem was that it only scratched the surface. Also I believe that it opened up a can of worms in that my C-PTSD seems to have got worse, not better.
But, despite the NICE Guidelines (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) stating that:
1.9.4 Chronic disease management
18.104.22.168 Chronic disease management models should be considered for the management of people with chronic PTSD who have not benefited from a number of courses of evidence-based treatment.
...I have been discharged from NHS mental health services in worse shape than when I began treatment.