Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Triggers, Will They Ever Stop???!!!

Do you know what it feels like to be taken completely by surprise by your brain, kidnapped, and dragged back into your past kicking and screaming? 

Actually, never mind the dramatics, there isn't really time for kicking and screaming, before you even know it, you're there. That's a PTSD trigger.

After having been through the eight week treatment program, I guess I hoped my triggers had all been identified, and I didn't need to fear embarrassingly losing my shit in front of anyone again..... haha how foolish are we human beings, especially us mentally ill ones ;) Just a couple of days ago, I was visiting a friend, and she was telling a news story about a poor young woman who witnessed her father murdering her mother. Seemed like your average news story to me, which I diligently try to avoid for obvious reasons, but suddenly I found myself backing away from the conversation, covering my ears, and pleading with her "please don't say anymore, I can't listen". Without any warning, I was violently yanked back as if by a rope to when my father tried to kill my mother with a very large kitchen knife. I had no control over what was happening to my body, it was remembering the traumatic event, and there was nothing I could do to stop it at that moment. My heart raced, my shoulders tightened so much they hurt, my stomach seized, I had difficulty breathing, and I sobbed uncontrollably while the horrifying image of my past froze in front of my eyes. Another part of my brain knew what was happening, and because of my treatment program, I knew what I had to do, and so did my friend because I had told her before. I sat on a chair with my bare feet on the floor, my friend handed me an ice pack to hold on to, the coldness keeps us present, then I cognitively battled with my past as I tried to slow my breathing while looking around me naming the various objects and people I could see. My friend stayed with me for support and encouragement, when I stopped talking she would gently ask "what else do you see?". This brings us back to the present, if we can remain focused and grounded, much easier said then done.

Triggers can be extreme such as the one I just described, or they can manifest as an intense anxiety that simply requires one remove oneself from the situation. In any case, I don't think I've seen the last of them. I know that violence against women, real or otherwise, actually any violence, women screaming, men raising their voices, children screaming, guns, dishes breaking, or feeling trapped are some of my triggers, but I'm sure there are others I just haven't discovered yet. My awareness and the skills I'm developing will help me manage my triggers so that I'm not emotionally annihilated for the remainder of the day, but I do have a disability. Someone not knowing I have PTSD might fear I'm having a heart attack or suffocating, very traumatic for the person watching. So if you suffer from this disorder or you know someone who does, please talk about it, so everyone can feel in control, understood, and not be afraid. This is the stigma of mental illness. No one knows what to do or say, so they just back away from the situation, or act embarrassed, or minimize. Many individuals with PTSD won't even leave their homes, because they fear the embarrassment of  being triggered and what that will look like to someone else...that's not fair to anyone. For someone else to be imprisoned in their own home for fear of how they might make someone else feel or for someone else to see a stranger in agony and not know what to do is not fair to anyone. I think we should wear PTSD bracelets with instructions on the back of how to handle the situation namely that an ambulance is not required, but an ice pack might be helpful.

If you have PTSD, please talk about it to anyone who will listen because you know what?? Those triggers are never going to stop.

For more info check out this site.

#PTSD, #triggers #PTSD sypmtoms, #dialogue about mental illness


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