Small Trigger warning: Even though I am not going to be explicit, its not a pretty story. If you are in a bad state of mind, it might not be the best idea to listen to this one.
Hello, my name is Johanna, and I welcome you to the Johanna Draconis - The deconstruction of c-PTSD podcast.
In this episode I will introduce myself and my journey to be cured and the path that lead to making this podcast.
As said before, my name is Johanna and I am a survivor of c-PTSD, though unlike others I didn’t just learn to live with my trauma, I was able to cure it.
As far as I know, this is an unusual feat, as in: I don’t know anyone else who managed to do it.
But first things first:
My story summarized - extremely
Starting from my earliest memories around 3 years until I was around 16 years old.I was daily physically (as in violence) abused, occasionally tortured, and later more psychologically.
I lived in constant fear of death, as he made a VERY convincing case that he could kill me and no one would believe he did it nor would anyone really care.
If he ever gets close to me, he still verbally abuses me and if kept close longer it goes over into violence.
I refuse to have contact with him now. And no, it wasn’t my parents.
I also suffered neglect, bullying, emotional abuse and so much more, but the mentioned before is the main source.
And I was a good girl, I got good grades and did what was expected of me, but my health seems to just getting worse. I had severe Depression, since childhood. On and off.
I was in therapy for many years, because of the divorce of my parents, but we never truly got to resolve the underlying issue, though it did manage to stabilize me a lot. At least for a while.
It was during my psychology studies, when I finally was able to move close to me University, that I got the first worse symptoms.
Feeling of being followed, but there was no one even remotely close, but it was a feeling like someone was breathing down your neck.
When I sat in my car I saw a shadow sitting in the backseat, who terrified me.
And the theme of fear, being followed and shadows became worse and worse. I was in a state of almost constant fear.
Until I saw a true shadow even on daylight following me, later it even appeared in my apartment, scaring me to death. I knew, if that figure ever reaches me, I will die.
I couldn’t sleep, I had panic attacks all the time, I was literally scared to death. I knew there was no escape.
No sleep,no rest, but I needed to sleep so~o badly.
Trying to get help
While I had alls those symptoms I, as I mentioned before, studied psychology.
And fate would have it, that I had in the middle of my symptoms getting worse, the class “clinical psychology”. The topic: PTSD… and naturally some other disorders.
… It is never a good sign if you sit in the middle of a clinical psychology class and you see the checklist of your symptoms. I remember cursing in my head.
And I immediately called doctors and clinics in the area for help, but most refused me, because my trauma is a old one. We are considered incurable and would need a permanent spot.
Except for the clinic of the university, who offered me a spot, to at least get the official diagnosis… , which to be honest wasn’t hard with my back story and they also offered me treatment, … but only if I accepted a non-professional … a student.
She helped me a lot and started setting me on the right path, by asking questions and made me realize that what happened to me was ~maybe~ not as normal as I thought.
Yes, I thought it was normal, I still kinda do. I can’t imagine living differently. For me the “normal life” is a weird concept
But soon she couldn’t help me anymore, we couldn’t figure out why, at that moment, but my symptoms got worse again. I moved back to my mum. I said to her on the phone ‘mum, if I stay here I will die’ and I meant it.
I tried to get a new doctor to treat me, but no avail. I met with them, but it usually went nowhere. On contrary I usually felt worse afterwards.
So there I was… noticing despite the presence of my mother reducing the worst of it, that I was keep getting worse and I felt so at mercy of those people, who didn’t help me
IN. SO. MANY. INSTANCES.
Despite ALL their talk about if I need ANYTHING I should get to them immediately and they would help me. Instead I got insulted, questioned and bad gossip behind my back.
And then -eventually - I hit my breaking point and I said ‘SCREW IT! If they don’t help me, I will help myself’. I thought I can’t make it worse, I AM already dieing, so lets give it a shot.
Going my own way
So, in my arsenal I had my studies in psychology and a bit biology, and I also had the scientific method. Which goes like this: Try something, if that works, keep it —, if not, drop it. Find something better? Replace it. And so on.
I read about the illness, the treatment and everything. I dissected it and learned how to use it for MY situation. Very soon I understood at which point I was in my healing process and which path I ~roughly~ had to go.
Those years were hell, but I made progress, much faster than with any help before.
I lost almost everything during that time. Even the relationship to my father, who I was closer than anyone else on this planet with, almost split apart.
I lost SO much. I basically had to cut out everyone who harmed me.
My only support was my mother. I had a rocky relationship at best until that point, but this made us sit down and talk about everything.
She was attacked by the others, for giving shelter to an actress, a leech, for making everything worse by listening to the tales of her daughter. A story of its own. Between the chairs she didn’t knew what to do.
She provided me with a roof and food, but also questions and doubt. As she felt completely lost. She barely understood what I explained to her.
Those years were really hell. But after a few years I finally saw significant improvements.
But despite my efforts some symptoms didn’t vanish and we figured out why the doctors didn’t really help me: I was an autist. An asperger. Even a pretty strong one.
And now Autism is added to the mix
As an autist I deal with emotions differently than neurotypical people or neuros for short. Thats why we can’t (or at least barely can)explain our deeper emotions to neuros. Meaning I couldn’t make a therapy even if I wanted.
And it naturally explained A LOT of my rather unusual behavior, which I had shown early on.
But it also came with a talent, and mine was in the medical area. Which is a bit complicated to explain, especially since I never fully explored it, but I could understand and see illnesses as structures, like a tree.
Also it somehow provided me with a sort of intuitive understanding of illnesses.
Which proved to be rather useful and explained my ability to pick up most of the clinical psychological knowledge almost instantly.
But this discovery also set me back, because I first had to take care of my autism, before I could continue. It meant I had to bury my dream of a normal life I had worked towards.
And now survivors guilt…
I removed more and more symptoms and finally after a few more years, I was at the point where I could consider myself ‘healed or cured’.
I became aware of my achievement, when I saw a sunrise and just stood there and perceived its beauty. I never had done this before in my life. I just couldn’t. The beauty just overflowed me.
Well healing isn’t a straight process, but I was so… relieved, unburdened, that words fail me. All those years, it worked. Despite no one,even not really me, believing it would.
Overjoyed with my success I went and searched for other people like me, … … … but I found NO ONE. NOT ONE!
The best survivor told how they get by most of the days, with pills and the problems. But no one removed the trauma.
No one was truly free of it. No one was like me. In that moment of realization, I developed ‘survivors guilt’ which gave me symptoms back. Not the worst, but still kind of… ironic.
I decided to write a book, a biography, to help and inspire other people and get in contact and so on. But once again, when I searched for similar books, I found none. NONE.
But what I found and what got louder and louder in my head were the voices asking for help, asking what is happening, asking what they could do and so on. They were lost… and I knew where they were.
Imagine running out of a burning building and you are the only person outside, but you can hear the screams of the people still trapped in the building. So what do you do?
The Idea of a podcast
My plan was to give instructions to the people still stuck in the building and explain them, how to get out.
So they wouldn’t suffer my pain and confusing. As I did many things wrong, because I didn’t knew better.
And thats was how the idea of the podcast was born. But first things first, I still had to stabilize myself more.
And after many months, it FINALLY was done. I also used the time to write my healing path in a logical order so other can follow it easier.
Figuring it all out was bit of a mess, but I think it was worth it. But since I have no experience in this field, I am looking forward to constructive feedback.
Same goes for questions, as they also help me not to overlook things. And please, don’t hesitate to ask me any questions and I try to answer them. I am looking forward to them.
I think the exchange is one of the MOST IMPORTANT things.
And so the plan is, that from now on I will logically explain my path, so other people can follow me out of the living hell that is c-PTSD. Or maybe help a friend. Interrupted by Q&As etc. most likely.
We will see how it goes. I have a plan, but I am flexible about the execution of it.
I hope I made everything a bit clearer about me and thank you for listening. Next time I will give short overview over PTSD and its variations and parts, so we are all on the same page.
Hope you liked this episode and that you leave me some feedback. Also you can visit me on johannadraconis.com.
Watch yourselves and have a wonderful time.