cPTSD And Me: Looking For An Escape Route

An exit sign, lit up against a dark background

Content note: this post discusses cPTSD, what a bitch it is to live with, and acute suicidal ideation. If any of those are hard for you, leave this one out – but keep an eye on my Twitter for other, sometimes sexier posts!


So, I have PTSD.

Actually, technically, I have cPTSD, with the “c” standing for “complex”. All trauma is complex, obviously, but my little “c” denotes that the causes of my PTSD are many, chronic, rather than being one particular incident. I think the “c” fucks you up extra hard, because my understanding of the world is probably radically different to someone who hasn’t experienced years upon years of trauma.

I’ve been thinking about all of this (and a lot more) because of the recent heatwave in the UK. Something about it was making me frustrated, miserable and panicky, and it took me a little while to work out what it was: the feeling of inescapability brought down upon me with the 29 degrees of heat we experienced recently. The heat was uncomfortable, and I couldn’t get away. It put me close to fight-or-flight for days on end.

The inability to cope with situations that seem inescapable is a theme within my life. When I bleach my hair, the twenty minutes I have to cope with an itchy scalp feels like a lifetime. I panic when I’m lifted off my feet (which makes suspension scenes fun, at least). When I had a 24-hour stomach bug at my boyfriend’s place, he found me trouserless on his bathroom floor, crying about a level of pain that, if it had seemed transient, I would’ve coped with easily. But it didn’t seem transient, so I cried until I got stoned and calmed down.

Now, I’m planning on moving in with my Daddy, which is a definite upgrade from the tiny, grubby student flats I’m used to. I’m excited to live with them, obviously, but I’m also scared shitless. This may be in part due to that time I was living with a partner who asked me to leave with 4 days’ notice, for an unknown period of time while he had “space”, with very little money and no means of transporting more of my stuff than I could wrangle onto a train. I felt stuck then, trapped outside of the house I’d left all my belongings in, the inescapability of my newfound semi-homelessness crushing me; but honestly, I’d be scared shitless even if I hadn’t had that experience. My cPTSD means that the world feels fundamentally unsafe and totally beyond my control. Cohabiting with a partner (especially when they own the house and you’ll technically be their tenant) is scary for anyone, but it’s especially scary for someone whose biggest fear in the world is situations they can’t readily escape from.

There are a few ways to mitigate this. I have to strike a balance between finding control where I can, and accepting that some things are beyond my control. For example: I cannot control whether my Daddy and I break up, much as I wish I could, but I can control what the terms of our break-up are. They’ve promised to write me up a proper tenancy agreement that guarantees me 28 days’ notice before I have to leave, which means I’ll be in a position to transport all my things and adjust to the change. Essentially, they’ve promised to give me an exit strategy, and it has soothed my anxious mind a lot.

There are other elements of wanting an escape that bleed into my relationships. My BPD prompts me to attempt to break up with my partners with alarming frequency, even when I don’t really want to end the relationship at all, and I imagine that’s in part because I’m trying to gauge how readily I can escape any given romantic connection when my fight-or-flight response kicks in. This is troublesome, but Lucid Morgan forewarned my partners of it early on in our relationships, so they know how to assauge my fear of being stuck without making me feel like they don’t really want to be in a relationship with me anyway. They say things like, “I really want to be with you. If this is you talking, and not your BPD brain, then obviously you can leave whenever you want, but just know that I don’t want to break up at all.” It helps.

One other thing that helps might be dysfunctional, but in times of crisis, it really helps. I’m suicidal a lot, and sometimes the only thing that can dissuade me from killing myself right now is knowing I can always kill myself later. My distress feels pressing and, yes, inescapable, and that prompts thoughts of killing myself to get away from it – but the option of killing myself later washes away some of the wounded-animal, fight-or-flight desperation without involving, you know, doing it right now. Even when I’m less acutely distressed and more chronically miserable, I find it a comfort to know that I could bow out of life any time – and that frees up more space in my mind for actually enjoying life as I live it. Weird, possibly unhealthy, but a useful interim solution until I can work through my need to always have an exit strategy.

All of this is to say: trauma is a bitch, and this is one of the many effects it can have on your brain and how you navigate the world. It’s okay if you’re always looking for an exit, but it’s a feeling that can suck, and all I want you to take away from this post is that you aren’t alone in it.

Skills I’ve Learnt By & From Bottoming

A chalkboard with a mindmap on it, with a lightbulb at its centre. The mindmap is titled "Bottoming Skills" and has six bubbles, which say "boundaries", "self-care", "balance", "processing pain", "communication" and "mindfulness" inside

Last month, I asked my Patreon people what they’d like to see a blog post about for the month of October, and they voted for “Skills I’ve learned or am learning, as a bottom and a human”. So, naturally, I… proceeded to go about three weeks without writing or posting anything. My brain has been on the fritz again and writing about bottoming has fallen to near the bottom of my to-do list (get it?), but at least I can spin it in my favour this time, because one of the most important skills I’ve learned as a bottom is understanding and asserting my boundaries.

Looking after my boundaries comes under the heading of “soft skills”, and it’s a soft skill I’ve had to battle to learn. That’s not a surprise; I’m assigned female and recovering from abuse on top of that, so I’ve spent a lot of time acquiescing on my boundaries for the sake of my safety. In kink, though, the best way to ensure your own safety and wellbeing (and that of the people around you!) is to recognise and assert your boundaries, so that you don’t say ‘yes’ to something you can’t withstand. If you, like me, don’t care much about your own safety or wellbeing, you might find it helpful to reframe it as, “Part of being a responsible bottom is communicating about my boundaries and limitations. It helps my top/dominant if I am forthcoming about what I can and cannot do.” This helps you grant yourself permission to assert your boundaries, and the more times you voice a boundary and have it respected (and even congratulated, with phrases such as, “Good pup for telling me”), the more you’ll train your brain to connect asserting a boundary with having a good time, which is hugely helpful in non-kink contexts, too.

That’s the thing about soft skills like these: I learn or build them whilst bottoming, but they improve my quality of life in vanilla contexts, too. Skills in a similar vein include communication and self-awareness, as well as mindfulness and staying present within my body – something I struggle with, since 1. I dissociate pretty frequently and 2. My brain is usually running at ridiculous speeds and is never fully focused on a single thing. When I’m bottoming, staying present and attentive to my body and brain is essential to my safety as well as my enjoyment of the scene, and this has the pleasant side effect of teaching me that being present inside myself can be a good thing.

Another skill that I practice whilst bottoming and that helps me in my day-to-day life is processing pain. I have hypermobile joints that cause me chronic pain, with acute flare-ups often occurring in cold weather, when I’m ill, when I’m stressed, when I’m not eating right, and/or seemingly at random. It’s hugely helpful to have pain processing strategies to hand for these – things like deep breathing, visualising pain as heat which is radiating from my body, and learning not to freak out because pain is not always equivalent to peril. I’m not learning to ignore pain – in kink, because pain is part of the fun; with my joints, because pain is informative – but I am learning to cope with it.

Bottoming is also teaching me to prioritise self-care. I’m a better bottom (more engaged, more attentive, able to push myself) if I’m well-fed, well-rested and managing my chronic pain appropriately. It’s sometimes difficult to grant myself permission to perform self-care, so, much like with the assertion of boundaries, it’s useful to reframe it as being useful to other people, as well as mixing in the incentive that if I do more self-care, I can do more BDSM.

I have also learned and/or developed “hard” skills from bottoming. Some of these things are as minor and context-specific as coiling my Daddy’s rope for them, but some are bigger – like rope stuff helping me to improve my balance and proprioception. Bottoming-related hard skills are ones I’d like to explore more thoroughly; things like bootblacking would aid my hand-eye coordination, help me to keep my own Doc Martens in good nick and, as a nice bonus, put me into a service-oriented headspace. There are so many ways that bottoming has the capacity to improve one’s quality of life beyond just the bedroom/dungeon/wherever you do kink, and I’m excited to keep exploring them.

The Secret Sixth Love Language: Please Promote My Posts

A dark pink on light pink version of Twitter's Retweet icon, to encourage you to share my sex blog with your friends!

This post is part of Mx Nillin’s Blogger Love Language prompt. Make sure to go give some of the other bloggers using this some love!


Y’all probably know that I love meta-communication and communication frameworks (like the scripts I suggested for talking to your partner about kink – click here). I’m getting really good at saying, “Tell me I’m cute!” or, “I could use some reassurance that you don’t intend to replace me,” and giving the people in my life the ability to support me, because they want to support me and they’re not psychic. After a whole lot of work in therapy about whether or not I am “a pain in the arse” (apparently I’m not), I’ve come to realise that making these requests is actually a nice thing to do for people who love me, and not a big ol’ inconvenience, because I’m just supplying them with information, and they can use that information to reach any personal goals they have which are attached to looking after me.

One way to supply people with that information quickly and easily is to use an existing, well-known framework. One such framework would be the five “love languages”, five categories of actions that people commonly use to express affection. They are, in short: gift-giving or -receiving; physical touch; sharing quality time; words of affirmation, and acts of service. If both you and the person you’re communicating with are familiar with, you can just say, “Oh, my primary love language for receiving is words of affirmation,” as a useful shorthand for, “I’m most likely to understand and accept that you’re expressing affection and the notion that I’m a worthwhile human being if you say nice things to or about me, rather than other things like buying me presents.” It’s a brilliant framework to have available.

Its brilliance is one of the reasons I’m excited about Mx Nillin’s blogging prompt. Using the existing love languages means that you can communicate the foundation of your methods for receiving love really quickly, leaving you with plenty of words to discuss the finer details. Making a meme of it means that people feel permitted to ask for the support that they want or need, because as sex bloggers and as people in an online space, we often feel like asking for support gives an impression of desperation, sell-outy-ness, spamminess and/or arrogance. I’m really glad that Mx Nillin has created a space specifically for us sex bloggers to state what kind of love we benefit the most from, and I’m excited to learn about the love my peers would like to receive.

With all that said, I am going to be an awkward little bastard and state that, actually, in the world of blogging specifically, the best way to love me and my work doesn’t slot neatly into any of the five love languages. The thing that gives me the BIGGEST warm fuzzies every time isn’t words of affirmation (like a comment) or gifts (like Patreon pledges), it’s sharing. Retweeting, linking to or mentioning my work on social media will make me squeal, out loud with my actual mouth, every single time.

I guess that the sharing part is an act of service, and when you link to my work, you might pair it with some words of affirmation – but, ultimately, it’s affirming in and of itself. You’re telling me, “I thought your stuff was worthwhile enough to show other human beings.” You’re also telling me, “I thought your stuff was worthwhile enough to press at least one additional button on my phone or computer.” Knowing that a reader thinks my work might move people, help people and/or titillate people feels like a step up from just knowing that they themselves enjoyed it, and it makes blogging feel like more than a self-indulgent hobby. If people think my work is important enough to share, I feel like it’s important enough to persevere with – even if I’m panicking about the end of the fucking world.

I wanted to get the whole “share my shit” thing out there because I think it’ll ring true for a lot of bloggers, but they might not feel “allowed” to state that it’s their blogging love language, either because it falls outside of the original five or because it seems demanding, cheeky or otherwise unreasonable. I wanted to break the ice early in September and grant other people space to say, “Hey, actually, share my things, please,” in part as a way to pay forward the awesome thing that Mx Nillin has done for our community in creating and hosting this meme on their own blog. Go and show them some love, too!

A badge made by Mx Nillin that says "Blogger Love Language" in a nice cursive font. In the background there are two chat-style bubbles, one blue and one green, each containing a love heart. The rest of the background is pastel pink and features a link to Mx Nillin's site, www.mxnillin.com


Want to help me write more, sleep more and buy more sex toys? Support me on Patreon, and maybe share the link with your friends and followers – it’s quick, easy and makes me smile!