Wednesday 13 December 2017

Talking with other parents that 'get it' is so helpful and reassuring, in this case our battles with C-PTSD

Yesterday I met up with a dear friend who I originally 'met' through this blog. Like me, she had a teen with anorexia, and her experience of an eating disorder in the family was very similar to mine. So we hit it off right away when we initially corresponded by email and, later, met up in person.

My son and her daughter are now thankfully in remission from anorexia ('remission' or 'recovery'? I feel like it's tempting fate to say 'recovery'...) - and now our experiences are overlapping again. We are both suffering from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) as the result of those years of battling to get our children through their eating disorder.

For some time now we've been debating about exactly what it is that has been going on inside our heads.

Is it PTSD? Well not really, because PTSD tends to occur after a single traumatic event, for example a serious car crash or being involved in a terrorist incident.

Well, OK, then, is it C-PTSD (Complex or Chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)? C-PTSD can occur after sustained trauma, for example childhood or marital abuse, and - of course - armed forces combat. Yes there's no doubt that we have been faced with sustained trauma.

But we're both tending to agree that what we have is Continued Traumatic Stress Disorder (CTSD or CTS) as I described last week because, although the primary trauma has gone (the eating disorders appear to be in the past), there is the ongoing fear that the eating disorders may reoccur.

Relapse from an eating disorder is common, which is why we, as parents of young people who have suffered from an eating disorder, feel a need to keep our eye on the ball 'just in case'.

This is so we'll be ready to home in and fight, the moment there's any minuscule hint of any eating disorder behaviours in the near or distant future. If anything should re-occur we'd want to nip it in the bud as soon as possible.

And so our minds and bodies are in a state of continuous alert, albeit in varying degrees. For me I'm thankful to say that, currently, this alert and readiness is very low level.

But it's still there. We can't box it up, put it on a shelf and forget about it...

So there is this alertness mixed with all the other horrible symptoms that can come with C-PTSD and indeed any disorder on the post / continuous trauma spectrum.

Both of us have had, and are having, a very similar experience. Many of our symptoms are carbon copies of each other's.

Something like this is pretty horrible to go through, but what IS good about it is that we both 'get it'.

And, whether you're talking with other parents about eating disorders or the fallout that can affect our own minds following our child's eating disorder, it is always going to be massively helpful and reassuring to know that the other person 'gets it'.

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