Anna Runkle grew up with with several alcoholics in the family and all the problems that tend to go with that — broken cars in the yard, welfare, emotional neglect, self-esteem problems, precocious sexuality, and violence-prone Thanksgivings. As an adult she discovered that as a result of this, she had something that is now known as Complex PTSD or Childhood PTSD as Anna refers to it. Anna explains that it CPTSD is a neurological injury that has occurred in your brain as a child and that you can heal it by using neurological tools.
Anna offers programs and online courses on how to heal your childhood PTSD. She has her own YouTube channel where she offers advice on how to heal and is known as “The Crappy Childhood Fairy”.
Childhood PTSD or Complex PTSD forms in people who have been abused or neglected during their childhood years. They have often been haunted by symptoms of this their whole lives.
What are the symptoms of Childhood PTSD?
Some are behavioral, some are neurological and some are emotional.
When we were kids, we had to come up with a coping mechanism to deal with the trauma that was happening to us, but as adults, we are sabotaging ourselves by holding on to these coping mechanisms.
Anna explains how these mechanisms are wired into our brains by the time we’re adults and how she went to see 8 different, highly trained therapists who only made her feel worse.
When you have Childhood PTSD you tend to feel your emotions too strong and you can end up spiraling into negative thoughts even if it’s just something small that sets you off. Anna calls it dysregulation. When you suffer from PTSD you’re not able to read red flags and therefore can put yourself in dangerous situations over and over again.
Emotional neglect is the culprit
In terms of developing Childhood PTSD, emotional neglect seems to be the biggest culprit.
Anna talks about how our brain development is slowed down when we suffer from emotional neglect. We don’t learn, for instance, how to mirror other people and the consequence can be that as an adult you’re not able to read a room, understand what kind of gift to bring to a party or what to say to other people.
Bonding through trauma
Bonding through trauma is very much like intermittent reinforcement which is a technique used by among others, Black Ops. Using this technique, you can manipulate and control even a healthy-minded person. It’s a terrible glitch in our being that makes us attach even harder to people who abuse us.
If you, like Anna, had alcoholic parents, you might have been traumatized by them being drunk and therefore not able to care for you, but once sober they switch around trying their hardest to love and support you. It’s a pattern of good-bad and leaves the child confused and even more traumatized.
There are a lot of levels of dysregulation and it can actually interrupt good blood flow in your body. It can also cause infection and chronic pain. If you have a lot of symptoms and the doctors don’t know what’s wrong with you, it’s time to consider if it might be trauma.
Some signs of dysregulation are feeling over-emotional about things, you get easily triggered in situations and you might feel numbness.
Anna explains that there are brain exercises we can do to help us in a dysregulated situation. One of them is to sit down with a piece of paper and use a specific writing technique. Writing about your trauma will most of the time not trigger it, while if you talk about your trauma you might trigger the old stuff over and over again. Naming it, facing it, writing it down, and letting it pass by on the conveyor belt of life. This exercise saved Anna’s life when she was at her very lowest point.
In this interview she reveals several other useful techniques to get herself out of dysregulation, so watch the full interview to find out about them.