Complex trauma or carrying around a large rock

Inspired by BurningBee’s fabulous comic about realising how the world is different when you are properly medicated for ADHD, I’d like to posit my thoughts on complex trauma (C-PTSD) and how it’s like carrying around a big rock. Sadly I don’t have anywhere near the talent of BurningBee, so it won’t be illustrated (but if you want to illustrate it, hit me up).

Some of us have big rocks, we’ve had them for a long time, we’re used to them being there. We take our rocks everywhere we go, carrying them to school, work, appointments, dinners with friends, or just when we go for a walk.

Sometimes we don’t notice the rocks at all, it’s not that they’re not there, it’s just that we’ve been carrying them around for so long that sometimes the burden is lighter because we’ve built up muscles carrying around this big rock.

The thing about carrying around a big rock is that you notice the other people carrying around their own big rocks. You’re more likely to bond with these people, and share stories and strategies for managing the rock. You can talk without having to go into depth about how you ended up with this big rock and be understood more easily than by those who don’t have their own big rock. However, because we’re human, we don’t automatically gel with all the people carrying rocks, just some. Not every rock carrier will be your friend or family.

When you talk to people who don’t carry their own rocks about things that you’ve survived, that might not even relate to the presence of the big rock, you’ll be told, “Oh you’re so strong” and “You’re so funny”, and these things will not make much sense, because you’ve survived the arrival of the rock and that is why other things aren’t always as difficult.

And if you find a similar community of people carrying rocks, you can sometimes band together and find more efficient and effective ways to carrying the rocks together, so no one person is struggling on their own.

You can never really put the rock down. You can chip away at it with therapy and support, and heal from the bruises and grazes that carrying it around has caused, but the rock will be ever present. Making it smaller and more manageable is the aim.

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