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Unsure of the future

Community Member

Hi all, so I have only recently being diagnosed with c-ptsd and I am currently getting help for that, which seems to be going well. The question I keep coming up with that I can't find an answer for is what works for everyone else when they are trying to figure out their lives and who they are moving forward? I have spent so much of my life stuck in that flight or fight response that I'm just not sure on how to move on.

8 Replies 8

Eagle Ray
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Dear Jasemine,


 I understand your feelings and have found myself also trying to figure out the future as I come to terms with the past.


One thing that could help is finding something you love doing and immersing yourself in it. For me this has been photography. It is something I chose to learn about because I was drawn to it and it now feels part of my identity. So I have a building block going forward in my sense of self that doesn’t have to be defined by things from the past. Apparently being immersed in activities we love is calming for the part of the brain called the default mode network which is where we tend to ruminate. This can happen a lot with c-ptsd as we can go over and over past events, often continuously reactivating our fight-or-flight response or freeze response. So by quietening this ruminating part of the brain and being immersed in something we love doing, we can often deactivate the trauma circuits and start building new neural pathways that are healthier. In turn this can put us in a better position moving forward with our life.


Also, I think connections and a sense of belonging with people who are healthy for us helps us build trust and safety. It then becomes easier to have a sense of a place in the world, in turn making it easier for us to know how to go forward with our lives. So gradually finding people we connect with, perhaps through common interests, we start to have a sense of belonging. That can help us know ourselves better as humans are meant to connect relationally in the context of forming a sense of self. As children we are supposed to form a sense of self through healthy relationships with our caregivers, but this often goes wrong in c-ptsd and we can end up with a damaged sense of self instead. Often working with a good therapist is a beginning point for starting to know that people can be safe, and then we start to form healthier relationships in our lives as we develop a sense of self in relation to the world.


 I recently took myself on two road trips which was precisely breaking out of the stuckness of being in a freeze response. It’s like I activated the flight response (get in car and travel) which got me out of freeze and then brought me back to a kind of equilibrium. It engaged the curious part of my brain as I explored new places and I was doing photography which completely absorbed me and took me out of a trauma pattern I’d recently fallen back into. So I think finding circuit breakers that break up the reality we’ve always known and having new experiences can help us move forward. I began to have creative ideas about my future while on my trip which I feel happened because I broke out of those familiar trauma patterns.


 I don’t know if I’ve explained things that well or if that helps, but those are the thoughts that come to mind in response to your question. I’d be interested to know how others with c-ptsd have found ways to move forward.


Take care and all the best on your journey.

Community Member

Dear Jasemine, 
I hope you will find some comfort in that you are not alone. There are many of us out there - lost, struggling and doing our best to just pull through another day. Something that really helped me is a book called The Untethered Soul by Alan Singer. 

Wow @EagleRay you describe it so well. I have CPTSD and avoidant/fearful attachment style. I’m glad you found your interest in photography, but I’m struggling to find anything of interest atm. It seems my mind jumps endlessly from one thing to another (I liken this to the flight mode) but I don’t get anywhere.  The idea of a road trip sounds good but i have daily responsibilities which prohibit this 😞. The only thing that gives me joy is hearing how positively you’re dealing with this. Good on you 😊

Hi, so just a quick update. 

I have started going to the gym and eating more healthy along with having regular therapy sessions and I feel like that is starting to have a positive impact on my mental health, as well as starting to build some great friendships along the way.

I still struggle with the lack of identity thing but I have started respecting my health and welfare and it has been feeling like things will improve. 

I have managed to find a couple of "safe" friends with a similar taste in music and every now and then we go to concerts and festivals and yes social anxiety does get triggered doing that but I find that if I am with the people I trust I can shift my focus to them or the band.

I don't know if this helps anyone but it seems to be what is working for me.


Eagle Ray
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Dear Jasemine,


That is wonderful you have found those two friends and you have been able to enjoy going to the concerts and festivals.  I can relate to what you say about focusing on the people you trust and the band performing as a way of managing social anxiety. I think feelings of trust with other humans makes such a difference. I find animals help me too, especially dogs, and I find patting a dog really helps regulate my nervous system, even when it’s been very dysregulated. I’m really glad you are getting benefit from the gym, healthy eating and the regular therapy sessions. It’s like learning to really care for ourselves which is often a bit of a challenge with a complex trauma history, but really rewarding once we learn to do it. I’m certainly still on a learning curve with how to take care of myself. Good on you for the great work you are doing and I wish the best for you going forward. I think a sense of identity can gradually form as you continue self-caring and finding your way. Take care.

Hi Loony Tunes 53x,


 I have a fearful avoidant attachment style too, quite strongly so 😞 Wish I could switch it off, but I think it’s just a slow process of gradually learning that there are some safe people out there. I think focusing on being around people who feel genuinely kind and safe, and avoiding anyone who isn’t, definitely helps. I hope you can find an interest over time. My mind jumps all over the place too and I’ve long felt like I have ADHD, or perhaps more the quiet, inattentive form of that. But I think a lot of people with complex trauma are that way. With photography I go into hyper focus where I get really absorbed, both when taking photos and editing them afterwards. But at other times I’m often quite scattered.


 I understand about not being able to just go on a road trip with other responsibilities. I was like that for many years but I’m now on my own and haven’t been working due to health issues (mental and physical). I wonder if you can get away for some day trips? I’ve found even that can help, just a change of scene. I find coming home after an enjoyable day trip, things feel different somehow, like it kind of recalibrates how you feel. Take care and thank you for your kind words 😊

Hi Eagle Ray & thanks for your response 😊  isn’t it odd that one can have this fearful/avoidant attachment but still be seen as outgoing and sociable. What great pretenders we must be 😔, I have a few interests but it’s hard to focus on anything feeling like this. I don’t confide in anyone as , typical of my attachment style, I trust no-one.  Conversely most people tell me their life story usually adding “you’re so happy/ok/got it together etc so you wouldn’t understand!!! If only someone knew & if only I could trust but have been betrayed before (and done done betraying myself) so here I am. I think everything d unravelling at this point because I’m older, my brain doesn’t seem to be clear-thinking anymore and my intimacy/closeness with partner is not there for lots of reasons . Clearly I’m to blame for this with my attitude anyway partner left yesterday and so I’m here alone again.  Just wish I cld go to sleep & not wake up. 

Dear Looney Tunes53x,


I'm so sorry for your current situation. I can imagine you are feeling vulnerable and sad right now with your partner leaving. Be gentle and kind to yourself and know you have been trying to do your best with the intimacy and closeness issues. If you want someone to talk to today there is always the Beyond Blue helpline and I have also found the Blue Knot Foundation helpful who specialise in supporting people with complex trauma. Blue Knot are available from 9-5 (Eastern States time). They are quite attuned to the kinds of issues people with complex trauma are struggling with. There can be a wait time and they also have a callback option where they can call you back in 48 hours if you don't want to wait, but sometimes you get through quickly and don't have to wait anyway.


I very much relate to what you write about having others confide in you while you are not confiding in them. That is the story of my life and I learned it in childhood where I was taught to take care of other's needs but not recognise myself. It's taken decades to kind of be able to see myself at all. Being able to trust and feel safe with people is a huge thing for me too. Yet, like you, people have mostly thought I'm always coping, happy, easygoing etc, though in recent times I think cracks have started to show. But I think you do have to let the cracks break open sooner or later to begin a healing process within yourself.


Do you have any supports at the moment, or any counselling/psychological support? Try not to go into self-blaming, though I know this isn't easy, and me saying that to you is ironic as I chronically self-blame as my default response to everything. But what I am slowly starting to do is have an inner parent that is more nurturing towards me, and I can at least hear that voice some of the time. That voice will tell me I am doing my best and it's ok and to be kind to myself. I can easily lose contact with that inner self-care but it has at least formed now and it is like a little voice in me that just needs to grow bigger and stronger and take up permanent residence!


Please take care of yourself and reach here or to other supports such as helplines whenever you feel the need. Feel free to start your own thread too if you think that would help. We are here and listening if you need support. Kind regards, ER xx