Complex PTSD -Invisible Injury-
I hope you will take the time to read through Chiyo's life story and consider supporting her in this journey. I met Chiyo in 2011 and since then have been nothing short of impressed with her commitment to overcoming great life adversity, constantly improving herself, and taking action to help others.
Although her story is a unique one, it is something that many people face today.
Thus, not only will your efforts help Chiyo to live life with PTSD which is a deeply personal challenging condition but it will also help others. Through Chiyo's commitment to be a voice for this condition she will shine light in a dark area for so many, thereby, making the world a better place for all of humanity. I wish her well on this journey and hope you will support her efforts!
Hello, I am Chiyo!
I WANT TO LIVE, PLEASE HELP ME LIVE!
I am living with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD), and this is my coming-out story of my battle in the last seven years. It took me nearly two years to finally publish my story after I decided to come out on gofundme website in the summer of 2013.
I am deliberately using the word “living with” instead of “suffering from” because if I said I was suffering from CPTSD, it means I would be suffering tomorrow, one year from now, and maybe for the rest of my life. On the contrary, my life is getting better and better every day! I have already survived the worst; my life will never be worse than it already is.
All of my family members have disappeared from my life. It started with my sister's suicide, then my dog (not Coco), my father, my brother, and my mother.
My husband is my only family I have left, and I am on the verge of losing him because of my CPTSD. Living with depression and CPTSD is exhausting and challenging, but living with someone with depression and CPTSD is also very hard, especially when "someone" used to be the happiest person.
gofundme is my only hope to get treatments, and keep my marriage, and become a productive member of society instead of end up being on the street.
The reason I developed CPTSD and depression is that my life is full of traumatic events: abuse/torture, sister's suicide, and abandonment. Many people have harmed me, but my main abuser is my mother, she verbally and emotionally tortured me since I was little.
She raised me to believe that I was a demon and unlovable. Next day of my sister's suicide, she blamed me for her death and called me a murderer. It might sound crazy, but I believed everything she said to me. Living as a demon and a murderer was indescribable. When I finally confronted my mother as an adult, I cried and told my mother" I wish you had dumped me to a trash can and had killed me when I was a kid! Why did you not kill me if you knew I was a demon, I wish you had killed me! I wish you had killed me!" I have good memories of my mother, I do believe that my parents did the best job they knew how to do, so PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY NEGATIVE COMMENTS ABOUT MY FAMILY.
WORDS DO HURT!
I have been living with an extremely severe CPTSD for my entire life.
I have overcome an extremely severe depression.
I have survived all kinds of violence.
BUT I AM NOT ANGY.
I AM NOT VIOLENT.
I AM NOT DANGEROUS.
My depression and CPTSD have affected every aspect of my life for the last seven years especially my school life and my marriage.
I am a 30-something-year-old living in California, far away from my mother for the first time in my life. Back in 2007, it was my dream come true to go back to a college and study what I was passionate about. I did very well in my freshman year, and my life was filled with nothing but happiness and excitement until depression suddenly hit me. In February 2008, during the beginning of my sophomore year, I was diagnosed with major depression, then my life rapidly started going down a hill. At the end of 2009, my depression took the light out of my life. I felt like I was a prisoner of complete darkness, feeling miserable, defeated, and powerless about school, finance, and life. Then to my biggest surprise, I was diagnosed with severe CPTSD.
2009 was the most humiliating year I have ever experienced, and it has since haunted me.
I ended up failing the same classes for three consecutive semesters in 2009 because I fell through the cracks of the school system. I was very unlucky.
Emotional flashback is a prominent symptom of Complex PTSD:
emotional neglect:- a-primary-cause-of-complex-ptsd?
It all started with a panic attack in January 2008. After waking up from a horrific nightmare about my sister, who took her life when I was 15, I had been feeling like dying for three hours. My friend told me that it was a panic attack, and I needed to see a therapist for it. Simply following my friend's advice, I went to see a therapist for the first time in my life. After a couple of sessions, I was diagnosed with major depression and told to see a psychiatrist. I was so scared and shocked to hear that I needed to see a psychiatrist let alone taking medications. I knew nothing about depression; I felt so alone, helpless, and ashamed.
I started seeing a therapist once a week, also a psychiatrist every three months. My depression became worse over the course of next fifteen months, but I had to stop seeing the therapist after receiving the same useless advice for three sessions in a row. Just like my therapist, my psychiatrist was not much of a help either, but I ended up seeing him for almost six years because I did not know any better. When I told him that my depression did not seem to improve, he simply told me that there was nothing he could do because I was already getting a maximum dose of anti-depressant. He was just a prescription-dispensing-machine for me.
Seeing a family therapist even though I have PTSD is like seeing a general doctor when I should be talking to a brain surgeon. They are not equipped to treat clients with severe illness or injuries such as major depression or PTSD. That is why I believe every therapist or a future therapist need to read my story!
2009 was a turning point. My depression reached the point where I could not function enough to pass classes. When I asked for help from my school disability office, I was treated poorly. Less than one-minute conversation with a staff was all it took for my then undiagnosed CPTSD to become full-blown CPTSD. As a result, I lost my scholarship, dream, hope, and pride; I was left with shame, humiliation, and debt.
Hitting rock bottom, I started looking for a therapist for my compulsive behaviors.
After a couple of sessions, my new therapist asked me to do a screening test for PTSD at home. When I found out that I was 1000% positive for PTSD based on the test, I was in disbelief, even upset.
I thought that PTSD only happen to soldiers or those who were close to death in the event of an accident or natural disaster, but not to someone like me.
My score of the screening test was over 80 out of 108. I thought that an average score would be between 60 and 90, and anyone with a score below 30 must be a psychopath, serial killers, or people who have clearly something wrong with them. In order to prove the test was unquestionably flawed to my therapist in the upcoming session, I asked my husband to do the test. I was so eager to see the result of his test, feeling confident that his score would be a similar to mine. I was stunned when I saw his score: 3 out of 108. For the first time in my life, I wondered that what I thought was normal was not normal at all? What I think, feel, and experience are not what most of the people do?
About one month after started seeing a new therapist, my depression diminished me into a zombie. It was because I stopped my compulsive behaviors, which had acted as a tool to numb my shame, guilt, and pain. My therapist feared for my life even though I clearly stated that I was never suicidal; she recommended in-patient program, telling me that my trauma and depression were so severe that I needed 24-hour caring environment. I felt a hospital was where I should be and only hope, but had no idea that I could stay in the hospital for depression or PTSD. I had only seven or eight sessions with my second therapist, but I can not thank her enough for what she did for me, especially recommending in-patient program. The place where I felt understood (March 2010)
I was very fortunate to receive the best trauma treatment program in the country (maybe in the world?)at Del Amo Hospital. A charm, in the picture above, I made during my hospitalization has been on the rearview mirror of my car ever since I left the hospital. It represents the beginning of my battle with CPTSD and depression, my determination to overcome them, and a reminder to know that I am not alone in this battle. A lot of patients that I met had been in therapy for years or decades, and they were educated on various symptoms, disorders, and medications. On the other hand, I was completely newbie; I just learned that I had extremely traumatic life and severe PTSD. Everyone at the hospital experienced horrendous abuse/torture by close family members for years, but they are not violent, abusive, angry, dangerous, mean, and crazy at all! In fact, we had a class called "Anger Management" where we learned the importance of feeling and expressing anger, and It took me two weeks to feel the anger. Abused kids do not always grow up to be abusive adults! People grew up being abused are the most compassionate, resilient, and wise people I have ever met. Most of the people I met came from a middle-class family: a family looks normal from outside just like my family. I learned so many things at Del Amo Hospital, and one of the most important things I found out was that my behaviors were completely healthy to traumatic circumstances, and there was nothing wrong with me. What was wrong was a society, parents, who abuse their children, and people who have no compassion or understanding of mental illness/injury.
Intense psychotherapy with a trauma specialist (April 2010- November 2012)
My former therapist Cindie had such a cool way of acknowledging her patients' progress. Whenever someone hit a milestone, she gives the person a basket filled with small figures and let the person choose one of the figures to keep it as a prize! They are my "trophies": proof of my resilience, overcoming fears, and triumphs.
A process of healing and recovering from depression and CPTSD is very lonely and often frustrating because lots of achievements are internal and difficult to acknowledge, and it feels like you are stuck and not improving at all. Seeing my trophies helps me recognize all the hard work I have put into my recovery.
Lots of achievements people with CPTSD make do not seem like achievements to "normal" people. Attending a funeral and visiting a cemetery without having nightmares, panic attacks, and feeling depressed and guilty is an achievement for me. Showing up to a class one hour late while feeling so scared to go is an achievement for me. Asking my classmate help for an assignment is an achievement for me. Saying no to someone without feeling selfish is such an achievement for me.
Doing those things, which most people can do with ease, require a tremendous determination and practices for me, and I am still working on them.
Who would acknowledge those achievements and tell me "I am so proud of you" with teary eyes and smiles? Therapists and other people living with CPTSD can do it.
Sharing my story on gofundme and asking people donations is an incredible milestone for me just like someone took a first step after being told that they would never walk again. It is my first step to start living instead of hiding and merely existing.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing ) (February 2013 to November 2014, I have not seen the therapist in the last three months due to financial difficulties)
The name of this treatment may sound a bit scary. EMDR therapy uses bilateral sensory input; the most common technique is side-to-side eye movements. During the entire EMDR session, I wear a pair of headphone and hold vibrating handles in both hands.
Both devices give me bilateral sensations ‐ sound and vibration ‐ which help my left and right brain coordinate better to process traumas. I could feel the benefit of EMDR from the very first session! With your help, I can resume EMDR and many other therapies focusing on my body and mind!
Trying to overcome shame, fear, and anxiety at my college (September 2013 to February 2014, June 2014 to present)
Having failed so many classes and humiliated myself, my school has become the one of the most terrifying and triggering place for me. To overcome my fear, I felt that I had to get a job on campus and needed an additional support, which was my dog Coco. I can work on campus and bring Coco to the school as an emotional support animal. With her support, I became able to go to school without dissociating or feeling overwhelmed by shame. Having a job on campus not only gives me the structure but also a healthy amount of responsibilities, socialization, and confidence. I feel great being able to help students!
Ever since my depression and CPTSD explosion in 2009, I have withdrawn, failed, passed many classes, and also have taken many leaves. On a good note, I did well in a couple of classes, and I need about 18 more credits to earn to graduate!
The majority of your donation goes to my treatments—
some go to my education and living expenses.
I need extensive therapies for years to come because my CPTSD is extremely severe.
My therapist Bernie is amazing but also very expensive!
She is very good at teaching me how to better communicate.
Cost is if I saw her twice a week.
After having read so many articles talking about an effectiveness of Neurofeedback on PTSD, I decided to visit a doctor for free counseling in 2013. The doctor gave me a tour of her facility and showed me various data of brain activities obtained by Neurofeedback, which gave me lots of excitement and hope for my CPTSD. Neurofeedback is very expensive because you are required to receive treatments two or three times a week. The Doctor told me it's similar to learn a new language; it requires patience and practice.
My remarkable second psychiatrist told me, "You are the least selfish person I have ever known, you need to be more selfish!" As a matter of fact, I feel selfish lots of times. My mother told me pretty much whole life that I was very selfish, greedy, manipulative, cold, and a list goes on. When I hear those words in my head repeatedly, I sometimes shake my head to shake them off, but they seem to be embedded in my brain cells, and they do not come off. The Dr. also told me, "You are the worst critic of yourself. Your perception of yourself does not match reality."
I hope CBT teaches me how to deal with my low self-esteem, worthlessness, and inner criticism. A reason of low estimated cost is that CBT is a short‐term treatment-based on my research- focusing on specific goals.
I went to three different group therapies organized by my therapist Cindie:
-"Group therapy for people with PTSD" for two and half years
-"Group therapy for grieving" for three months.
-"Group therapy for people with narcissistic and controlling parents" for two years. Except me, all patients in the group therapy for narcissistic and controlling parents were in their 60s. Also, their abuse was 100% emotional/verbal abuse while I have traumas of sexual and physical abuse.
I miss talking with people who can understand me, I miss having deep and substantial conversations.
Many articles show that acupuncture is a very effective treatment. I had my first acupuncture recently, and I was amazed how acupuncture relaxed my body and mind like any other treatments do! I am certain that acupuncture can help my symptom tremendously.
All the treatments described above are not covered by insurance at all! It is shocking and wrong!!!
Insurance coverage for medications is amazing; I pay only $5 for $60 to $250 worth of a medication, and $25 copay for visiting a psychiatrist. Insurances seem to be only interested in making pharmaceutical companies rich, but not providing a necessary treatment to a patient! Plus lots of experienced therapists do not accept insurances.
Here are the reasons.
Confessions of a Therapist
Gift Cards: very useful for buying materials for school projects!
-gift cards of any fast food or grocery stores
Thank you so much for taking a time to read my story:)
Your compassion has now become a part of me, and will stay with me until the day I become ashes.
I published my “coming out “story about two weeks ago- on March 25- and shared it with a small group of people on Facebook, which was enough to give me a panic attack. Then a funny thing happened. A friend of mine, who has known me more than ten years, asked me on FB “Chiyo, Is your account hacked?” I was like LOL:)
He thought that someone had stolen my identity and had tried to raise money with a phony story because he could not believe it was my life story!
My story is 100% true. I understand that it is difficult to believe especially for those who know me personally, but appearance can be deceiving, and there are many other people who look fine, but in reality, they live in shame and secret.
That is why it is so important for you to keep sharing my story because my story can change the course of someone’s life!
Overwhelming support I have received reassures me that what I am doing is extremely courageous and important. I will keep being brave and advocating for mental health using different platforms, but as my friend told me, I need to help myself first before helping others!