Complex PTSD is recognised as a disorder in the ICD-11

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I wanted to share the great news that Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is recognised by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) eleventh revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11).

As someone who has openly spoken about living with the symptoms of CPTSD, it feels extremely validating to know that it is actually recognised formally. I wasn’t aware of this until very recently so for those of you who already knew this, please forgive my delayed discovery. For those of you who live with CPTSD and are aware of this, I hope this news finds you well.

In my personal opinion, a diagnosis of CPTSD could easily replace many other diagnoses. CPTSD is the result of child abuse, neglect and any other prolonged and repeated traumatic experiences.

Symptoms of anxiety and depression are in most cases part of having CPTSD, as well as the following (in the context of childhood trauma & abuse).

”Attachment – problems with relationship boundaries, lack of trust, social isolation, difficulty perceiving and responding to others’ emotional states”

”Biology – sensory-motor developmental dysfunction, sensory-integration difficulties, somatization, and increased medical problems”

”Affect or emotional regulation – poor affect regulation, difficulty identifying and expressing emotions and internal states, and difficulties communicating needs, wants, and wishes”

”Dissociation – amnesia, depersonalization, discrete states of consciousness with discrete memories, affect, and functioning, and impaired memory for state-based events

”Behavioural control – “problems with impulse control, aggression, pathological self-soothing, and sleep problems”

”Cognition – difficulty regulating attention; problems with a variety of ‘executive functions’ such as planning, judgement, initiation, use of materials, and self-monitoring; difficulty processing new information; difficulty focusing and completing tasks; poor object constancy; problems with ’cause-effect’ thinking; and language developmental problems such as a gap between receptive and expressive communication abilities.”

”Self-concept – fragmented and disconnected autobiographical narrative, disturbed body image, low self-esteem, excessive shame, and negative internal working models of self”.

Formal recognition and diagnosis will greatly help CPTSD sufferers with more appropriate treatment options:

Some current treatments are:

  • biofeedback
  • dyadic resourcing (used with EMDR)
  • emotionally focused therapy
  • emotional freedom technique (EFT) or tapping
  • Equine-assisted therapy
  • expressive arts therapy
  • internal family systems therapy
  • dialectical behavior therapy(DBT)
  • family systems therapy
  • group therapy
  • neurofeedback
  • psychodynamic therapy
  • sensorimotor psychotherapy
  • somatic experiencing
  • yoga, specifically trauma-sensitive yoga

It is also worth mentioning that CPTSD has also been referred to as DESNOS (Disorders of Extreme Stress Not Otherwise Specified).

DTD (Developmental trauma disorder) is also proposed as the alternative equivalent to childhood CPTSD.

”Dr. Judith Lewis Herman, in her book, Trauma and Recovery, proposed that a complex trauma recovery model that occurs in three stages:

  1. establishing safety,
  2. remembrance and mourning for what was lost,
  3. reconnecting with community and more broadly, society.”

If you live with CPTSD and have had experience with any of the above treatment options, I would love to hear what you found helpful.

Thanks for reading

This blog post includes direct text from Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complex_post-traumatic_stress_disorder

Love Athina ♥♥

How to heal from childhood abuse

A lot of my followers on this blog and also subscribers from my youtube channel keep coming to me with the same question ‘How do I heal from childhood abuse?’.

Although this is something I have already addressed previously, I have decided to actually explore this in as much detail as I possibly can.

I will address this with reference to my own recovery journey and also by looking at research done by psychologists, psychotherapists and trauma specialists such as Pete Walker, Wilhelm Reich, Dr Bessel Van Der Kolk and many more.

Healing from childhood abuse isn’t a simple process. It takes a huge amount of courage, inner strength & resilience. It requires a willingness to become more self-aware of our own dysfunctional coping mechanisms, that we may have learnt from our primary caregivers.

If our parents were high on the narcissism spectrum, we will have endured years of all or some of the following:

  • neglect
  • hypercriticism
  • parentifying
  • infantilising
  • pathological envy
  • blaming
  • patronising
  • mood swings
  • pathological lying
  • aggression or passive aggression
  • gaslighting
  • controlling behaviour
  • emotional blackmail
  • scapegoating
  • silent treatment
  • shaming
  • invalidation
  • isolation
  • intimidation
  • verbal abuse
  • sexual abuse
  • physical abuse
  • engulfment

Living in a household with abuse, causes the child to develop Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Complex post traumatic stress disorder is a more severe form of PTSD and has the following 5 features:

  1. Toxic shame
  2. Self-abandonment
  3. Emotional flashbacks
  4. A extremely harsh inner critic
  5. Social anxiety

Emotional flashbacks are the most characteristic part of CPTSD. They are sudden and sometimes prolonged age regressions to the overwhelming feelings of being abused or neglected as a child. Emotional flashbacks don’t have a visual component. These flashbacks do however include an overwhelming feeling of fear, shame, alienation, abandonment, depression and emotional pain. They can range in intensity from subtle to unbearable.

Toxic shame is the when an individual has an overwhelming feeling that they are flawed, loathsome or stupid. It completely destroys a person’s self-esteem and causes the person to abandon themselves emotionally. This creates a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness.

The inner critic is the internalised punishing voice of our abusive parent. If we had a parent who was a bully and constantly called us names such stupid, pathetic, too sensitive, ugly etc, then we will have this voice within us, even if our abusive parent isn’t in our life anymore. It will be a habitual inner bully that punishes us instead of supports us.

Other symptoms of CPTSD are:

  • Feelings of loneliness and abandonment
  • Fragile self-esteem
  • Attachment disorder
  • Developmental Arrests
  • Relationship difficulties ( Fear of forming relationships or forming relationships that are too dysfunctional)
  • Hyper-arousal / extreme flight/fight response
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Oversensitivity to stress
  • Dissociation
  • Exhaustion
  • Body armouring  (which involves tensing of muscle tissue whenever stress or emotion is experienced. To protect itself, the body takes a defensive, tight, and stiff stance. On a tissue level it enters into a muscular holding pattern that resists change and release. Unexpressed emotions such as anger, fear, and grief are common causes of this phenomenon. This was first described by psychologist Wilhelm Reich).
  • Impulsivity
  • Inappropriate anger

 

The stages of recovering

To recover from abuse and trauma, we must first educate ourselves on a cognitive level. We must understand that we most likely suffer with CPTSD and that it isn’t our fault that we are suffering. We have to put the blame where it belongs – to our abusive primary caregivers.

Secondly we must find a qualified therapist/specialist coach that will help us with the very difficult task of shrinking the inner critic. The inner critic can be a very difficult part of recovery to tackle, as the negativity from this critic has become automatic over our lifetime. It may take a long time to stop the inner critic from affecting us. Constant awareness of when the critic is present will help us stop him in his tracks and try and replace the negative criticisms with positive affirmations and self-compassion.

The next step in recovery is verbal ventilation and the very painful process of grieving our childhood losses. Verbal ventilation is when we speak in a way that releases our painful emotions with a safe person. Grieving our childhood losses means that we actually allow ourselves to cry, be angry and really feel the deep pain of not having had healthy parents. Grieving can take a long time and can sometimes last for a couple of years. In grieving, it is important for us to also grieve our loss of self-esteem and safety.

Once we have successfully grieved, we then must deal with the feelings of abandonment via somatic healing and via learning how to become self-compassionate in moments of depression or anxiety.

Lastly, we will need help with dissecting all our defences, especially those that no longer serve us. We may have picked up defences and behaviours from our abusive parents that are dysfunctional and we will now need support in stopping these defences and practicing more healthy ways of coping.

A very important part of recovery is to learn how to be patient with our progress, as sometimes it isn’t straightforward. Recovery is a journey and self compassion is crucial.

A great mantra according to Pete Walker, is

‘Progress not perfection’

Expecting perfection in recovery isn’t going to help us move forward..

Progress however is key!

Thanks for reading!

Love Athina ♥

© All blog posts and images are owned by me and Courage Coaching. Please don’t use without consent and only re-blog if you would like to use the information on here.

 

Working with children who have been abused

Working with children is something that I have very much enjoyed doing on and off for 9 years.

After graduating from University 14 years ago, I spent part of my time running my jewellery business and the other part of my time was spent working as a nanny with children aged 3-11 years of age.

Being a part-time nanny, allowed me to have enough time to work on my jewellery whilst also earning a little extra money to keep things stable financially.

At present, I find myself in slightly different circumstances.

Although I will not be pursuing anymore nanny jobs, I am considering coaching a young teenager in the next few days.

In a few hours, I am meeting her and her mum for an initial consultation, to see if she would feel comfortable enough opening up to me.

Here in the UK, when you work with vulnerable individuals, such as children, special needs adults or the elderly, you need to make sure you get a DBS done.

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), is able to provide information about an individual as to whether or not he or she has a criminal conviction or has been charged with a criminal conviction which has expired. This provides the employer, which in my case is the mother of this girl, with peace of mind.

I haven’t actually applied for this yet as I will ask the mother how she feels about this.

Although I have never had a conviction in my life, it is still important to do things properly.

Coaching a young girl, who has just been through an abusive situation at home with her stepmom, is vulnerable territory.

Things have to be dealt with very carefully and I will have to refer her to a psychotherapist, if I see that her symptoms are serious. As a coach, I can only guide her with compassion and validation of her feelings but I can’t offer much more. Her mother has said that her daughter hasn’t found any of the counsellors at school helpful and that child services are happy that she will be talking to me, due to my background and focus of my business.

If I can help this young girl, I will be extremely grateful.

When I was that age, I had no idea that I was actually suffering from abuse. I thought my life was normal, even though I had no confidence and felt empty and unloved.

All children deserve a chance to be supported and have their feelings acknowledged. All children deserve to feel safe, loved and to feel happy.

Thanks for reading

Love Athina ♥

© All blog posts and images are owned by me and Courage Coaching. Please don’t use without consent and only re-blog if you would like to use the information on here.

New assertiveness PDF course-How to communicate effectively & stop being a people-pleaser

My new assertiveness PDF course is finally ready to buy.

Being assertive isn’t something that comes naturally to all of us, especially for those of us who grew up in dysfunctional homes. As I myself, also struggled with this due to my background, assertiveness training helped me immensely. For this reason, I wanted to create a course that would help others as much as my assertiveness training helped me!

Being assertive as a child with narcissistic parents meant that we would get punished or have love and affection withdrawn from us. Protecting ourselves didn’t usually go down well with such disordered individuals.

As adults, we continued having trouble being assertive as we may have felt frightened of peoples’ reactions or we may have at times felt guilty that we were letting people down.

Assertiveness however is important in many ways, especially as it encourages respectful & honest communication and promotes equality in relationships.

Here is a sneak peak of the course cover and its’ contents.

assertiveness front cover

In this assertiveness course, I will include the following things:

  • What assertiveness is and what it isn’t.
  • When & how to be assertive
  • The 4 different ways of communicating
  • What rights we have in our interactions with others
  • The differences between aggressiveness & assertiveness
  • How it feels to be assertive
  • Examples of assertive communication
  • Handing criticism assertively
  • Handling anger assertively
  • Expressing criticism assertively
  • What changes when we become assertive
  • The inner critic and how it affects us
  • Emotional Flashbacks
  • Practicing assertiveness with some exercises

If you are interested in this PDF course,

then please click here: —–>>>>>     ASSERTIVENESS PDF COURSE

The PDF is 30 pages long, so it has enough material to help you become an expert at assertiveness.

This course is ideal if you are an introvert or an avoidant! It is a great first step before you actually attend an assertiveness training class!

The course will be priced at £12.00 but since WordPress doesn’t offer me payment in British pounds, payment can be made in dollars for $16.00.

Thanks so much for your attention and I am very much looking forward to sharing my knowledge with you!

Love Athina ♥♥

© All blog posts and images are owned by me and Courage Coaching. Please don’t use without consent and only re-blog if you would like to use the information on here.

 

 

Taking on others’ emotions-Having weak boundaries

When you have grown up in a dysfunctional narcissistic home, taking on others’ emotions becomes the norm. Narcissistic parents teach their children to cater to their feelings & moods and the child learns to ignore their own emotions.

A great book which can help you understand whether you have weak emotional boundaries, is by Charles Whitfield: Boundaries and Relationships: Knowing, Protecting and Enjoying the Self. 

The following statements from his book, can help you identify whether you struggle with taking on others’ emotions and neglecting your own.

Answer with “never,” “seldom,” “occasionally,” “often,” or “usually.”

  • I feel as if my happiness depends on other people.
  • I would rather attend to others than attend to myself.
  • I spend my time and energy helping others so much that I neglect my own wants and needs.
  • I tend to take on the moods of people close to me.
  • I am overly sensitive to criticism.
  • I tend to get “caught up” in other people’s problems.
  • I feel responsible for other people’s feelings.

If you reply mostly with ”often” or ”usually”, then this is something you should consider getting support for. This means that you are extremely affected by the emotions & moods of those around you and aren’t able to focus on your own needs first.

If this is something you relate to and need support for, then please leave a comment below.

Thanks for reading

Love Athina ♥

© All blog posts and images are owned by me and Courage Coaching. Please don’t use without consent and only re-blog if you would like to use the information on here.

Avoidant Personality-Video II

In yesterday’s video, I decided to talk about Avoidant Personality in a little more detail, as my first video became very popular in a short amount of time and many viewers reached out to me with questions .

In this video I discuss some examples of what avoidance may look like, not only in full blown Avoidant Personality Disorder but also with people who just have a lot of the avoidant traits. I also talk about what specifically causes avoidant traits and what the consequences are.

Thanks for watching ❤

Love Athina ♥

© All blog posts and images are owned by me and Courage Coaching. Please don’t use without consent and only re-blog if you would like to use the information on here.

Avoidant Personality Disorder

Although it isn’t Monday yet, I have already uploaded Monday’s Youtube video 3 hours early, as tomorrow I am mostly on the go and won’t be checking in much.

As most of my videos focus on CPTSD, Narcissistic abuse, Dysfunctional Relationships and other areas of emotional difficulty, I wanted to address a cluster C disorder this time, as this is something I have experience with. Avoidant Personality is an anxious disorder which can be very pervasive and self-limiting for those who live with it.

It can be caused by childhood trauma and can co-exist with Depression, CPTSD, Dependent Personality Disorder, as well as other disorders.

An individual is diagnosed as having AVPD, if they meet 4 or more of the following 7 criteria.

Definition: A pervasive pattern of social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and hypersensitivity to negative evaluation, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by four (or more) of the following:

(1) avoids occupational activities that involve significant interpersonal contact, because of fears of criticism, disapproval, or rejection

(2) is unwilling to get involved with people unless certain of being liked

(3) shows restraint within intimate relationships because of the fear of being shamed or ridiculed

(4) is preoccupied with being criticized or rejected in social situations

(5) is inhibited in new interpersonal situations because of feelings of inadequacy

(6) views self as socially inept, personally unappealing, or inferior to others

(7) is unusually reluctant to take personal risks or to engage in any new activities because they may prove embarrassing

As with most personality disorders AVPD isn’t completely curable, although therapy, medication and the right support can help people lead more successful lives.

Is this something you may suffer with? If yes, then get in touch!

Love Athina ♥

© All blog posts and images are owned by me and Courage Coaching. Please don’t use without consent and only re-blog if you would like to use the information on here

Infantilization

You might have heard of the term infantilization but you may not realise how incredibly abusive it is when a parent does this to their child.

It is only natural for a growing child to start developing independent thoughts, actions and opinions. For a narcissistic parent this can be very threatening, as they want to continue controlling their child and use them for narcissistic supply.

Check out my video for an explanation of what infantilization is.

Some examples of infantilization are as follows:

A parent stops a teenager from socialising with friends or doesn’t allow them any privacy in their bedroom. The parent may still treat them as if they are a young child whereas a teenager needs growing independence and privacy.

A parent buys their child age-inappropriate clothing and/or arranges age-inappropriate activities.

A parent might not allow the child to speak for themselves, when they are asked a question directly by somebody else.

A parent might discourage the child from pursuing new interests as they don’t want the child to become more skilled at new things than they are.

If a parent isn’t able to have healthy relationships, they may try to influence the child against their choice of partner. They can’t allow their child to leave the family nest. The parent wants to continue their enmeshed relationship for as long as possible.

The effects of infantilization are as follows:

  • The adult child ends up having chronically low self-esteem
  • The adult child has difficulties academically
  • The adult child may find getting a job difficult
  • The adult child learns helplessness and enabling
  • The adult child may self-harm
  • The adult child may have poor social skills
  • The adult child may self-sabotage
  • The adult child may become avoidant

If you can relate to any of what I have written or said in the video, then please re-blog so it reaches more people.

Knowledge is power and with knowledge comes healing. To also further promote healing on a larger scale, I have recently signed up to patreon to further support my creations of videos, pdfs & hopefully in the near future, e-books.

Patreon is a platform that enables creators to reach new goals by having their followers & supporters fund their work.

If you find my videos & blog posts helpful, then please check out my patreon page.

It would mean the world to me to be able to reach more people and help them on their journey of recovery.

https://www.patreon.com/AthinaEhlen

dumdum-patreon

Love Athina ♥

© All blog posts and images are owned by me and Courage Coaching. Please don’t use without consent and only re-blog if you would like to use the information on here.

 

Status anxiety

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How do we each fit into this world?

Are we defined by whether we have a good job? A good marriage?

Do we feel that we constantly have to measure up to our friends’success?

Do we feel that we have to have the latest gadget, a new car or a big house?

Do we feel like a complete failure if we haven’t secured a stable job?

And what about relationships & family? When someone is single past the age of 40, everyone has an opinion about why that person is still single. If someone is jobless, everyone has an opinion on why that is.

STATUS ANXIETY is a constant worry about whether we are good enough in the world we live in. It is an insecurity about whether our life is a failure or whether it is a success.

Status anxiety is a term I came across after watching a video by Alain de Botton.

Status anxiety happens because we allow our environment to affect our inner world. Status anxiety happens when we allow other people to criticize us or the way we choose to live. It is only natural to become anxious, when we start comparing ourselves to others.

One of the most uncomfortable situations which may trigger status anxiety, is at a social event where you don’t know any of the guests. In such events, such as a party, you can only get to know someone initially by making small talk. You may be approached with questions such as ”What do you do? Where do you live?”. These questions may make you feel uncomfortable or inferior, because you don’t think your job is anything special and you don’t currently like the area you live in. In these situations you worry what the person asking the questions might think of you.

Status anxiety is rooted in judgements or how we think others will judge our choices, beliefs, skills and way of life. Nobody really has any control over the thoughts or judgements of others but everybody has control over how they react to others’ judgements.

If we really don’t care what other people think, then we probably won’t have status anxiety.

Status anxiety also frequently causes envy.We tend to envy in others, what we haven’t quite managed to achieve for ourselves. We may secretly envy the person who seems to have the perfect relationship when we are feeling lonely. We may envy the person who is always going on holidays because we can barely pay the bills with our low-wage job. Envy,  can give us insight into a part of our lives we may need to work on.

What is the most important thing to consider when suffering with status anxiety?

Is it more important to worry because we haven’t managed to develop a good career for ourselves? Is success only measured by having a high salary, a perfect marriage and celebrity status?

What is MORE important, is the meaning WE give to our life. If we are happy with all we have achieved (despite all the difficulties or judgements by others), then that is all that matters.

Our judgement of our own life is the most important.

Not everyone is born equally lucky, supported, intelligent, confident or motivated.

The people who are highly successful in business and are making the big bucks, are usually lacking in many other areas in their life. They may lack emotional intelligence and empathy.

If you had a choice in your life, what would it be?

In my personal opinion, success is being a kind & empathetic person.

Success is being able to self-reflect and being able to help others do the same.

Success is being remembered as a good person.

I believe that success shouldn’t be measured by whether you work, have a relationship or have kids.

Success should be measured by the type of person that you are..

When I die in the future, I would much rather be remembered as a good human rather than a successful businesswoman or celebrity. I would much rather be remembered as empathetic, giving, respectful, generous & lovable. I would much rather be remembered as someone who meant something to someone or as someone who inspired others.

If you find that you suffer with status anxiety, make sure that you define your own life in a way that makes you feel comfortable.

At the end of the day, all that really matters is the opinion you have of yourself and the respect and kindness yougive to others.

Love Athina ♥♥

© All blog posts and images are owned by me and Courage Coaching. Please don’t use without consent and only re-blog if you would like to use the information on here.

Question & Answer- YouTube videos

Today I am starting off my series of Q & A videos, where my viewers and subscribers are able to get their questions answered by me, in a video each week. Please feel free to ask me questions on the following topics:

  • Complex PTSD
  • Narcissistic abuse
  • Dysfunctional relatioships
  • Negative thinking
  • Dealing with emotional flashbacks
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Trauma Bonding
  • Toxic shame
  • Codependency

I also am happy to answer questions on how to :

  • Better manage your time
  • Practice self-compassion
  • Develop resilience
  • Stop self-defeating thinking patterns
  • Better manage your workload
  • Build confidence
  • Set boundaries
  • Deal with toxic people

Here is the first video on a question asked by one of my viewers:

Please note: **I will always keep the identity of my viewers confidential**

Thanks for reading and watching

Love Athina ♥

© All blog posts and images are owned by me and Courage Coaching. Please don’t use without consent and only re-blog if you would like to use the information on here.