Speak LOUD

Life with Complex PTSD with CHRIS SMITH

February 10, 2023 Tiffany Barnes/Chris Smith Season 5 Episode 134
Speak LOUD
Life with Complex PTSD with CHRIS SMITH
Show Notes

Today I’m talking with Charles Smith, an author, advocate, and lifelong survivor who uses his story as proof that you can overcome the worst that life has to offer. He has been an orphan, homeless veteran, and suicide survivor, and uses his pain as a building block to support others. Today, he’s here to speak loud about bringing awareness to complex PTSD. 

Compounding Traumas

Charles’ mother passed away when was 6, followed later by his father at age 11. As a child, he moved often, and from the PTSD found it difficult to create close relationships. His sister recalls that he didn’t speak for 6 months after they moved in with their aunt and uncle following his father’s death. Charles says that he was in shock and depressed, and afraid of getting close to people only to lose them again. 

As a young adult, Charles joined the army infantry, serving in Cuba and in the reserves. However, after his uncle and grandfather passed away, Charles found himself a homeless veteran. The depression led him to self-harm and an eventual suicide attempt. He was taken to a mental health facility and later bounced between veteran shelters for 5 years. This crucible, he explains, was actually what helped turn his life around. He no longer felt alone, seeing others in similar circumstances, and changed his views. 

Understanding Complex PTSD 

When Charles first experienced PTSD, it was known as battle fatigue and thought to only affect veterans. By the time he grew up, it was concluded that anyone who went through trauma could have PTSD. Standard PTSD forms from one specific trauma. Complex or compound PTSD, however, Charles describes as a layered cake. You can’t have multiple instances of PTSD, but you can have multiple traumas that manifest in the same illness. 

After being diagnosed, Charles wanted to learn as much about PTSD as possible and help other veterans receive the support they needed. He offered help to veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as created programs for various organizations to use what he had learned about PTSD. He’s written 7 books on a range of subjects, including PTSD, addiction recovery, and financial well-being. 

Giving and Receiving Help

Presently, Charles is working with Aware Recovery Care, an addiction treatment organization that specializes in in-home treatment. He works with clients for 52 weeks as they battle addiction. This way, he’s able to support people in their homes for a longer period.

Charles’ advice to listeners is to never give up. When he talks about his suicide attempt, he tells people that it was ten years ago and that his son is now ten years old. Without him, his son wouldn’t be here, either, along with many other great things he’s received since then. Charles says that he would “rather see someone get help than go to another wake.” He hopes that listeners will feel empowered by his story. 

Listen in for tools on managing PTSD symptoms, accepting the loss of loved ones, and Charles’ upcoming book and other projects. 

Resources Mentioned

Join Me on Speak Loud Platform

Speak Loud Podcast on the web

Find Charles’ books on his website

Contact Aware Recovery Care

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