CPTSD spiral

I recently left a social service job, working with families that are homeless Or experiencing domestic violence that I had been at off and on for the past decade. I knew it was time to branch out and try to explore some new things. I left before having anything sure but was quickly able to find something new. The new job served homeless teens and the job description on paper sounded ideal. Early in the application process there were some red flags but I ignored them because I figured that I am a pretty adaptable person and could deal with it and if it got to bad I would just move on. Now I am 5 months in and VERY miserable. It’s a small organization and although the clients are wonderful management is very chaotic. One manger in particular triggers my complex PTSD in a way I have not experienced in my adulthood. I didn’t recognize what it was at first but started to grow more and more anxious at the thought of encountering this person daily. And found myself feeling drained and isolating even though I do enjoy the job duties and bonding with the youth. I find myself feeling fully depleted by days end. And now I’m feeling more and more overwhelmed and am having a hard time explaining it to others, especially my husband. Part of me thinks I should be able to handle a difficult boss and I know this sounds bad but don’t want to seem like someone who can’t handle their emotional health. I’m feeling so overwhelmed and also scared to share with others and I don’t know why. I think in general I feel powerless and kind of trapped. Living in an expensive state- so not able to just quit, and feeling bonded to the work is making it feel difficult for me. Anyway, I don’t even know why I am posting here just wanted to get it out I guess.


Hello and welcome to heart support! Sorry I haven’t responded to you sooner, I wanted to make sure I had the time to sit and give you the attention you deserve.

I want to commend you on all the hard work you’re doing. It must be so so hard seeing people in those situations and it must be hard to separate yourself objectively sometimes when you see people being hurt or in danger. I had a brief stint in social work with homeless adults and youth, and it really was so incredibly hard.

That being said, the toll that line of work takes out of you, you need the support from your workmates and people around you, and by the sounds of it, that’s not what’s happening. The impact of your line of work coupled with the impact of lack of support from management; it is not surprising it’s taking a toll on your mental health.
When people give a lot of themselves and deal with high emotional situations, it’s already leading to chances of high emotional responses. The stress, the anxiety may vary in degrees for different people, but that does not make one weaker than the other.
Having emotional support at work is such a huge miss. It’s only seeming that more recently people in your line of work and in the health care industry are being told to “debrief” and take care of their mental health.

I understand you not wanting to expose that side to the person who is triggering you though. That has got to be so hard. Because you deserve to be allowed to talk about these things safely.

Are there other people higher up at work you can talk to by any chance? And is there any chance of having some time off? My concerns for you are that you’re going to hit that final wall. Also, do you by any chance talk to a professional? I’m not saying you have to by any means, but you do deserve to have your feelings understood and heard.


Hey Dreamboat,

I am so sorry you are going through this. First and foremost, please do not feel guilty about being concerned with your mental health. That is something you should never feel ashamed about. The fact that you already know that this isn’t right for you is actually a great sign. You can start planning and acting before it becomes too much. I actually see this as a good thing!

You have shown you have a drive to help others, and you are good at it. You can still do that at another position. If this one isn’t the right one for you, that’s fine! You took a chance with a new position, and it wasn’t the right fit. So, I encourage you to start looking for another position that could be the right one. You can still help others, but in an environment that doesn’t detract from you. You need to be putting that energy into those who you are helping, not into the work environment outside of that.

You got this, friend. :hrtlovefist:



Hello Friend, welcome to Heart Support. It sounds like you’re in a place where you’re seeing that your job isn’t a healthy environment for you. Are there similar places you can apply for with a different management staff? You could find somewhere that is a better fit for you. Also, if this boss that triggers your CPTSD and is doing something inappropriate I hope that you will talk to someone higher up because you do have rights etc. Take care! ~Mystrose


Hello there,

I want to welcome you to the community. This is a wonderful place and I am glad that you felt comfortable enough to post, so we can encourage and support you.

I was in a similar position last year. I had a boss that gave me terrible anxiety to the point that I would cry in my car every day after work for the last four months that I was there. I connected with so many kids and a handful of co-workers that I thought I could get through it and go another year or so. But, I realized one of my favorite quotes was very true at that moment. ‘You cannot pour into others from an empty cup.’ This might be true for you. Give yourself some grace and be kind to yourself.

It might be good to start looking for something that suits you and something you feel like you can grow and not have that stress all of the time. It’s not fair to you to feel powerless and trapped.

You are strong. You are valid. You are enough. You matter.

-StarFox :yellow_heart:

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From: Lisalovesfeathers

Hi Friend, Welcome to HeartSupport and Thank you for your post, Goodness it sounds like you are such an anxiety ridden situation and that is so tough, I am so pleased that you have recognised that this is making you feel this way and that something does have to be done. I understand that has put you in a difficult situation as now you have to make hard decisions maybe even life altering ones but I truly believe that you already know what you have to and want to do, you are maybe just looking for some back up and you have that right here. Your health is so very important, if you dont have that then how do you hold down any job? its vital you put that to the forefront. No one should be put through misery every day of their working lives and that does not make you weak, it makes your boss a fool and you a person who should not have to deal with nonsense. I appreciate that you have to pay bills so walking out is not an option but I would certianly be on the look out for somthing else and move on as soon as possible. you are worth so much more. Much Love Lisalovesfeathers. x


Thank you everyone!!!

After much thought, reading through your kind and supportive comments I decided to put in my resignation and had my last day this week. I am confident that I will find something else. The anxiety and worry about that has not set in yet but what I did feel was an incredible amount of relief the very second I pressed send on the email letting them know my last day. One of the commenters reminded me that I knew what I needed but just needed to take action and that choosing myself and mental health was not weak.
Thanks for all the feedback and for everyone who took time to post and help with my situation. I had gotten into a place that was pretty low and finding this place to leave a post reminded of the power of community. I needed to have external voices putting things into perspective for me. I needed reminders, I needed validation and I needed a boost, so sincerely—THANK YOU.


There was only one person higher up then that person and based on how they had handled previous matters I was not confident that anything would change.
I was seeing a therapist and she is currently on maternity leave but we will resume when she is back in November, it is always helpful to have people to talk through things and be heard…I appreciate you mentioning that.

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