When will I feel better? When will the pain go away or be less? I get asked these questions often by trauma survivors that find my blog or youtube videos. The truth is that I don’t know. I don’t have a real concrete answer because I can only speak from my experience. I will share some below and hopefully, it can help someone. I want to preface this with a trigger warning. I am going to briefly touch on my feelings of self-harm/suicide, the abuse I survived, and my chronic illness. Facing where you are may trigger anxiety and feelings of hopelessness.
The pain is less at times and greater at times but it is not as constant as when I started taking my healing seriously in 2014. I have good coping tools that see me through the worst of times. I also have a small support system I can lean on when I start feeling like I want to harm myself or the thoughts of suicide come up. There are stages of healing that have been explained in several books that I have read. Instead of following the stages in chronological order, I weave in and out of the different stages now. There is no order and I have had to learn to live with the chaos that is trauma healing. I am learning to accept that I am ill mentally and physically because of the abuse that I survived.
It is my honor as an adult to heal and care for my child, teenage, and young adult selves. I take my healing very seriously now because I know it is a matter of life or death. No one is going to do it for me. I have to do the work myself to stay alive. The pain is still immense but I have learned to navigate through the storm in my head to a place where I can help myself. The healing has not become easier but it has changed over time. I have become stronger. I still have moments of overwhelm where I cannot remember how to help myself. These are the worst times because I feel helpless. It does pass but with any pain and suffering, it is very difficult to cope with.
I have read that for some healing does get easier and less painful for them over time. I don’t want to dash anyone’s hopes but this has not been my experience with CPTSD. I would say my symptoms are easier to manage but the pain is not less. Manageable is not less difficult just different. I still go through the symptoms triggered throughout the day. If I stay focused on what triggered the trauma then I can get stuck in the episode for days or weeks at a time. To combat that I self-soothe and distract myself. I have many other contingency coping techniques if what I try doesn’t work. Every day is different and different things help at different times. I have, over years, learned how to help myself.
So, my dear reader, if you are wondering when you will feel better…the answer is that I still don’t know. I am only me and you are you. Your experience may be very different from mine. Comparison is not usually helpful. I wish I had a secret to tell reveal but I don’t. It’s hard work every day to heal from trauma. I hope we can all keep going and find the answers. I hope that we all can heal.