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.

Animal Crossing and My Mental Health

A poorly-taken photo of my new limited edition Animal Crossing Nintendo Switch!

Content note: this post is about my mental health (or lack thereof), and mentions suicidal ideation, depression, the coronavirus and the fact that the entire world is a fucking mess. (It also mentions the upsetting experience of being stung by wasps in Animal Crossing.) If any of that is going to be challenging for you, go ahead and give this post a miss – your wellbeing always comes first 💙


My mum used to say to me, seemingly all the time, that “lovability and efficacy are the cornerstones of self-esteem”. 

I would always roll my eyes at that, in part because she was saying it in an attempt to nudge me towards doing my part in our three-person household. I absolutely did not believe that doing a bit of washing up or moving my dirty laundry from the bathroom to the washing machine would do anything for my self-esteem, and I told her as much. 

Except, actually, the time has come for me to admit that she was – and is – right.

I have been in the depths of mental illness lately. If “deep self-hatred and misery” is equivalent to treading water, I have been so much further out to sea and under the waves that I’m amazed the pressure hasn’t crushed my skull yet. I have effectively been on suicide watch for at least a week. The only reason I’ve showered in recent memory is because I had an appointment at the blood donor centre and knew that some kind phlebotomist would be getting all up in my armpits with a pressure cuff. The closest I have come to “efficacy” was when I started my Pusheen crochet project, and even that has been a challenge. You know, regular mentally ill person stuff.

This is where Animal Crossing comes in.

My Daddy and my boyfriend schemed for weeks behind my back and pooled their resources to get me the limited edition Animal Crossing Nintendo Switch, complete with the newest Animal Crossing game. They’ve called it a birthday present, even though it’s currently March and my birthday is in late July, for presumably two reasons: 1. They needed a reason to buy it for me upon its release, and couldn’t have sat on the surprise until July, and 2. I am parodically Leo in every way, boasting a deep need to be the centre of attention and to be spoiled rotten, so my birthday celebrations usually start in late spring and don’t end until the beginning of the academic year. Naturally, this means that two people I love conspiring in secret to surprise me with a very early and very fancy birthday present was already unspeakably lovely. 

They didn’t know when they first started planning this endeavour that I was going to be extremely mentally unwell when my Switch arrived. (Please save all your D/s-themed Switch jokes until the end of this blog post.) They also didn’t know that Animal Crossing would be the thing that dragged me back to “treading water” levels of sanity – and nor did I.

Animal Crossing’s gameplay revolves around completing small, achievable tasks and being rewarded for it. You can’t fail at Animal Crossing – the worst thing that can ever happen is that you get stung by wasps and need to find medicine, or maybe that a villager you love moves out of town. The stakes are low, and the music is soothing.

Getting my little island set up in Animal Crossing felt good in a way that no other activity has felt good for a while. Having fictional raccoons compliment me on my work ethic felt good. Helping a fictional cat choose a spot for her tent felt good. Editing my fictional passport to say, “Be gay, do crimes <3” on it felt good. 

Accomplishing things, however small and however fictional, felt so good that I found it within me to start writing a blog post. Because efficacy really is critical in maintaining one’s mental health. Feeling like you can do things, and do them well, makes a huge difference to your self-perception. Or at least, it did to mine. And feeling in control of things, even tiny things like what you have for dinner, or your fictional Animal Crossing home, is extremely healing and empowering at any time – but it’s especially healing and empowering for me, right now, because there are so many things that are beyond my control. I’m writing this in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, so you can probably imagine all the things that have spiralled out of my – or anyone’s – control recently, but I feel like this post is evergreen: there will always be times when your life seems beyond your own control. But there will also always be things that you can influence, that you can achieve, that you can feel good doing – even if it takes a good long while to find them.

The world is a shitshow at the moment. But the deserted island my Animal Crossing character inhabits is not. It’s breathtakingly pretty and rich in resources. Starlight glitters on the river as I shake trees to find branches. Dicking around on my Nintendo Switch reminded me that there are parts of the world that are beautiful, and they aren’t beyond my reach.


The pandemic and subsequent semi-lockdown that’s going on right now means that I’ve lost a lot of work opportunities (because every other fucker at my agency is snagging jobs before I can). If you also want to give me a birthday present four months early, consider buying me a coffee or commissioning transcripts or captions from me!

Where I’ve Been

A selfie of Morgan, resting xir face on xir hand and looking into the camera with a neutral, if exasperated, expression. Morgan is a white nonbinary person with a blueish fringe and multiple piercings, the uniform of mental illness

Content warning: This post alludes to the general misery of mental illness, as well as suicidal ideation and self-harm. Give it a miss if you need to – you matter more than my analytics! 


So, I accidentally became a company director.

When I say this, people ask, “How do you accidentally become a company director?” Their confusion is understandable, but honestly, I’ve been in a haze of mental illness for such a long time that most of what I do feels accidental. Like, oh, look at that, I wrote a press release. Oops, I tripped and fell and submitted a PhD funding application. Oh, fuck, it looks like I’ve submitted coursework for my MA. 

But also: oh, fuck, I accidentally didn’t speak to my girlfriend for literal weeks. Oh, look at that, I forgot to eat today. Oops, I don’t have enough of my meds to get me through the weekend. And, of course, ah, shit, I forgot to be a sex blogger for a month or two. 

This post is two things. It’s an explanation as to why I’ve been away from my blog for a hot minute, and a celebration of all the insane things I’ve been up to during said hot minute.

We’ll start with the company director thing. My mum is my co-director, and initially, I was sort of a placeholder company director, a name to write on the paperwork until we got someone else on board. But, you know, it’s a community interest company, and it’s one I believe in very strongly. So, slowly and accidentally, I’ve started actually doing things as a company director. I made us Ko-Fi and Patreon pages. I put together the Facebook fundraiser for this weekend, when my mum will be shaving her head. I wrote a press release and contacted local news outlets to ask where I should send it. You know, real casual-like. 

Christmas makes my brain very weird, so I didn’t celebrate it. I hung wallpaper instead, mostly on my own. My mum acted as a second pair of hands on occasion, but I get weird when I’m doing DIY, so upon my request she mostly entertained the dog and stayed well out of my way. This was also the case when I replaced the toilet seat after losing my battle with the original broken one. And when I unblocked the outdoor drain. And when I rearranged the furniture.

I realised halfway through this whole process that I was using it as self-harm, what with my dodgy joints and all, but at that point it felt too late to stop. I carried on twisting my hips, pulling my ribs out and climbing ladders in my flip-flops, and only noticed bruises and scrapes hours or days after they’d occurred. The haze of mental illness hung heavy around me, so my memories of that whole process are blurred.

I did all of this stuff with deadlines looming in the distance. Four deadlines, to be precise, which required me to write a cumulative total of 11,000 words. The problem was, it was enough of a challenge to be in my mum’s house, where a lot of my trauma happened, without hurting myself any more than I already was. And my focus can never stay on anything at my mum’s house, because I’m waiting for the next Traumatic Thing to happen. So I didn’t touch my coursework.

And then I did, all at once. On Sunday/Monday, I stayed up for 37 hours (with a 90 minute nap in the middle) to write the 8,000-odd words I still had left to write. I had an energy drink at 11pm. I had a shower at 5am. I picked at the recent self-harm wounds on my arms and I cried about statistics. But I submitted the bastards, all four of them, and we’ll see soon enough whether they were actually coherent enough for me to secure a pass. 

I still went to my Monday afternoon seminar, too. I could have skived, what with the exhaustion and the mental illness and it being the first week of term and all, but it was the module I’m the most excited about, taught by an academic I really want to impress. So I turned up, and I babbled near-incomprehensibly about gender and bees, and then I stumbled back to my Daddy’s house. And I accidentally reminded myself why I liked to pull all-nighters all the time in high school: because exhaustion numbs everything, like a nip of booze does, and makes the world easier to cope with, and because I got so much done overnight. I would like to forget this information again, because I used to spend a lot of my time drunk on exhaustion, and I’m sure it wasn’t good for me. 

All of this is to say that I’ve been in a blurry, often-dark place lately. I have had moments of frantically Googling “how to drown yourself”, and moments of dizzying triumph and relief. I can barely recall any of it. I feel like it goes without saying that I haven’t been in a sex-blogging mindset very much as of late, because I’ve been alternating between being busy and foggy and in crisis. 

However! I have had some sex-related triumphs, among all the grown-up uni- and business- and wallpaper-related triumphs. This weekend, I’ll hopefully be posting about my slowly-improving relationship with masturbation, and how that fits in with my sex-related intention-setting for 2020. I’m only a month late, and honestly, with how chaotic things have been, that feels like a triumph in its own right.

Thank you all for your patience with me while I’ve been Going Through It™. I hope that the content I put out in 2020 makes that patience worth it.