Peer support subsequent to trauma contributes to full recovery

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) -- including complex trauma (cPTSD) -- is debilitating, breaking down the body through anxiety and stress, and it poses a significant suicide risk in sufferers. MyPTSD seeks to help and inform those who are directly or indirectly affected by these conditions through peer-to-peer support and educational resources.

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Feeling Extremely Anxious After Being Yelled At

Discussion in 'Anxiety & Panic Attacks' started by Michel, Apr 22, 2010.

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  1. Michel

    Michel Active Member

    Earlier today, because of anger he had expressed toward me yesterday, I tried to explain to my partner what it feels like to me when someone expresses strong anger toward me. I tried to explain that I am seriously apprehensive all the time; it is my default position. When I hear him say something that sounds like it is leading to anger, I feel the way a non-PTSD person might feel if she were very likely to be viciously physically attacked at any moment. When he yells at me, I feel as if I am about to be violently attacked and I feel like I am in the midst of an experience that is just more than I can bear.

    Well, he just got angry with me again. He yelled at me. He suggested I would be ending up back at a particular psychiatric hospital that was so hideous no person should ever be there. He pointed out that he's the one with a life that brings him joy. He was very mean.

    Now I feel extremely anxious and I feel out of control for bringing up my ideas about my illness and treatment, which often leads to these confrontations. We live together and I am extremely dependent on him in this period of extreme dependence. I feel trapped and angry and anxious and out of control.


    I left a message for a friend and for my therapist...I need some help coming back down.
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  3. She Cat

    She Cat I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    Being dependent on someone to that extent is not a good thing. It's quite possible that he feels resentment because you are....Try being a bit more independent, as you are the one with PTSD and are responsible for your own mental health....
  4. Michel

    Michel Active Member

    I am "sitting with" this idea of trying to be more independent than I am. It is what I most want, but from where I am now I'm afraid I don't know how to get there. As I reflect on this, I almost fully put aside the deep injustices that have led to my being where I am. I recognize that I still have some work to do on my feelings of resentment. But, at this point, I have become so isolated, struggle so much when dealing with other people, am so anxious and sad, and maybe worst of all, have been working so hard, almost exclusively, on therapy, that I can hardly focus on non-therapy related things. I do feel that I take as much responsibility as possible for my own mental health - working with my therapist twice a week in a way that I think is both open and receptive, journaling, reading and reading about PTSD and coping skills, taking baby steps in reaching out to old friends (who, alas, live far away) and applying for disability benefits to free me some financially... But I do not feel at all independent.

    I would very much welcome ideas about how to change this.
  5. She Cat

    She Cat I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    I think that you are *working* to hard on recovery, and are forgetting that there is a life to live. Therapy twice a week, reading books on PTSD, doing a journal may be a bit over the top. I would suggest that you really just try to experience life, outside of PTSD. Don't let this consume you as much as it apparently is....
  6. anni

    anni Bucephalus ( an old war horse )
    Premium Member

    Yes, you can sometimes get stuck inside your own head, you know? You are so completely determined to get better that perhaps you're disallowing yourself the plain old time it takes to heal. I hate to sound trite, like a high school science teacher but think about if you had a deep cut on your arm. What you should do is perhaps peroxide once a day, change the bandaid and let nature heal it. If you kept cleaning the thing and poking at it, it would disallow the cells to just grow over the wound even though you did everything right. It sounds so much like you're absolutely determined to not let this thing beat you, so please know you'll get better. With that much will, it is inevitable.

    I'm very sorry your partner is being obtuse about the facts you gave him. PTSD or no, there is no good excuse to deliberately be unkind to you. You're not trying to duck your diagnosis, have kept him informed and asked for the respect of some understandable boundaries when conflict arises. Noone can 'tell' anyone what to do in their relationship. I do know that when I fell into a relationship ( post trauma ) with someone who made me feel even more awful about myself, he ended up destroying my ability to have any feelings at all about him, good or bad. The avoidance kicked in and numbed me, so it was over.

    I wished to add that I can tell you that from a distance in time, the resentment/injustice thing which is so overwhelming does become less and less. Therapy helped a great deal, but I think your head just becomes tired of dealing with it, quite honestly. It feels to me as if my head just couldn't process how huge it was in the end, and gave up. Yes, that sounds silly but it's seriously what it feels like 20 years down the road.

    I started running, by way of getting out of my head. My children call it shuffling, but they have no couth. It helps. You expend that edge that won't go away, and get some great calf muscles. :) I don't mean to make light of what you're feeling by smiling, it's just that sometimes the smallest thing can be a move forward that you never expected.

    Keep taking care,

    Junebug and (deleted member) like this.
  7. Michel

    Michel Active Member

    The problem has been that I no longer have a life, outside of PTSD, and I have been working so hard at recovery because I want to have a life again - a different life, of course, but a real life. That said, your posts led to immediate action ("baby step" action but this is the right sort of action for me right now). I had discovered the other day a local church ministry that pairs a person who is struggling, in one way or another, with a member of the church. Well, I just wrote to the contact people for this ministry, told them I suffer from severe PTSD, and described the features of PTSD that make it so isolating. I suppose my idea is that maybe I will be able to get to know someone who comes into a casual, non-therapeutic relationship with me knowing what my vulnerabilities are and from that more ordinary relationship, maybe I will develop the strength to go, for example, to mass (which I don't do because I'll be too anxious amidst all those people and anyway I'm afraid I'll cry because I will be where I should experience peace) or maybe find even a small way to help someone else (the loss of this ability has been for me one of the greatest losses of the last years). Or maybe it's just been too long since I got to discover and learn about a person I hadn't known before. Maybe going out for a cup of coffee would be fun.

    But of course now I am full of Anxiety because I wrote to the ministry and because I've shared all this on the forum...
  8. TLight

    TLight I'm a VIP

    I'm glad you are expressing where you are at right now and I know how isolating this is. In fact, I've experienced all the tortures you are experiencing right now.

    Congrats on reaching out, but a word of sure to have VERY strong boundaries around someone this church 'pairs' you up with. My experience of struggling people attemting to help other struggling people is that both of those people have very poor boundaries, are needy, and this can lead to more hurt to each person.

    Other than that..........just taking a walk outside and saying Hi, How are a neighbor can be a very empowering step. How about just trying to do that today and give yourself tons of kuddos............make a little safe contact slowly.

    I know you want to be held, want someone to help you carry this burden of pain.............but sometimes we just have to curl up, take our meds and hope for a better day tomorrow........

    Be gentle with you.........
  9. Michel

    Michel Active Member

    Thank you, TLight, for your thoughts. I did want to make one little correction: in this pairing by the church, only one member in each pair is struggling with something (at least at the moment). That one will be me.

    Patience/waiting is something I have a very hard time with. I always feel like before I can let God "take over" a problem of mine, I have to be very sure I've done all I can. When can one ever be sure of that? But I am trying to slow down.
  10. TLight

    TLight I'm a VIP

    Yes, because of our trauma, of course we feel like we have to have control. Yet the process of 'wanting' something in itself is very painful.

    The buddist's have an analogy. Think of the position your body has to be in when you are reaching with all your might for something just outside of your reach. Put your body in that position now, physcially. Feel how painful it is?

    Trying to control the anxiety, the situation of lonliness, possible abandonment, how other people are responding to us or what they do with their time.............all that stuff that we try to do to ease our own anxiety and fear............well, in the end we just create more pain.

    Letting go is really difficult for trauma survivors because it triggers us into feeling like 'it' could happen again. Yet it is exactly what we have to do.........however, that being said, we can have very good boundaries and 'ask' for our needs to be met in a non-threatening way. I have a hard time with that, because when I ask, it triggers me too..........afraid my need won't get met or I'll get smacked for even existing.

    So anyway, hope this might help and I'm starting to ramble.

    So, just try to relax........find something, a book, a hobby....something that gives your mind a vacation. sure and have good boundaries even with this 'person' who is supposed to help you. There are a lot of 'wounded healers' out there who can do a lot of damage too. Just be careful and try to rest. Everything will be fine.
    rjtransient and (deleted member) like this.
  11. Farine

    Farine Active Member

    HI Michel!

    I just wanted to point out that there are alot of resources out there than just money. For example, if your city has a parenting magazine in print you can usually find it at the library. The back half of these magazines are often cultural calendars with some *free* events. Fun is really good medicine. If you live in Los Angeles - the magazine is availabile digitally online. It even makes a page turning sound when you click the "next" box. Cool?

    In hearing that your partner was being very mean, I wanted to say "I'm sorry".. in that no one should have to hear or have that happen to them. For me, I've beefed up my internal boundaries in part with some humor. When the comments are flying around, some of them don't stick me any more because I've deflected them. I figure that anything that I can dodge will be just that much less to deal with. The other part of it is that I'm trying to model good boundaries and sensible responses for two tweeners with high intelligences. That has been very good for me because I would not have done it for myself. FOr them, I will make the extra effort to patrol my boundaries in a recommendable fashion.

    Take gentle care with yourself-hopefully there was something in my post that sparks a thought or two for you.
  12. anni

    anni Bucephalus ( an old war horse )
    Premium Member

    Sometimes a thread sparks so much thoughtful, positive insights that there's little to add that is truely helpful, and would be a matter of listening to oneself talk, so I won't. I can only add that I do hope that you at least recognize in yourself the positives, because energy is in itself a manifestation of positive action and it builds on itself. I realize you feel fragile and awful about yourself at the moment. Please give yourself a lot of credit for the ability you have to keep going forward, and for taking the correct steps to do so.

    Being paired with someone at church would comfort me alot, I think, in your stage. I'd have to imagine it feels risky also, but so does everything to do with this healing process. It's a very cool program, isn't it?

    Maybe the whole turning everything over to God aspect you're referring to is just plain faith. It doesn't have to some religiously loaded term, it can just be simply that-faith. It seems to me a word containing an awful lot of hope, too, and seems like a lovely perspective.

    Keep being kind to yourself, and patient too.

    Junebug and (deleted member) like this.
  13. Lauren

    Lauren Active Member

    Thanks Anni. That was a wonderful post. I found it very helpful.

    It is so easy to get consumed in my therapy. My therapist reminds me to take care of myself which includes having fun ;o) I try to do something fun every week and every once in awhile put emotional processing aside for the week between sessions. It is always rejuevenating to do so. My therapist is also intuitive about the times when I am starting to feel overwhelmed and he needs to be more, for lack of a better word, "gentle" for one or two sessions.

    I have also found that I experience a very high level of anxiety just before a major breakthrough. Kind of like when kids getting really cranky just before they are about to start crawling, walking, talking or a physical growth spurt. Their frustration level is so high because they can "see" what they want to do and are soooo very close, but just not quite there yet.

    I seem to take 2 steps forward, 1 step back in my growth. It gets very hard at times and takes great courage to push through it to the next level. Courage isn't the absence of fear, or panic. Courage is working thru it even though you feel the fear. Keep working on yourself Michel but stop and smell the roses, enjoy the blessings that you have in life now. Don't let your past steal your present. Today is a gift, that's why it's called the present ;o) Hang in there'll make it~ (((hugs)))
  14. Artista

    Artista Well-Known Member

    IT IS important to take breaks!! I also find I am really wanting to work on this like crazy to get through it. Sometimes people criticize me for doing all I do! THAT is disheartening. I go to therapy once a week, see a spiritual advisor once a month and go to group for 10 weeks at a time once a week with breaks in between 10 week sessions, plus read and read and work on it. I still have a "normal" life. Try to not let it affect my everyday too much. Not that I am left with much time to process things as they come, but I wonder if that can be a blessing and desensitizes me a little to when I can deal. It has affected the father of my kids by making him more responsible for them solely at times for me to go places and do things, but he should do that any way as their dad!! Never before had I asked him to! I would not feel I was doing enough if I didn't grasp for every resource offered!! It is too haunting and I urgently feel the need it should be addressed. Hard for anyone to say when you have done too much as long as you can still function.

    We all need to just be aware of when these breaks are important or when it has become too consuming that it can be hurtful to healing and too exhaustive. It is a learned thing to listen to ourselves however... we were robbed of trusting ourselves when affected by trauma. It is a thing I have begun to learn.

    I have also learned in seeking out information on our soul or spiritual side... our intuitions.... that it is perfectly expected to take steps forward and then back. It helps us process more fully and truthfully. To learn to live in the moment, well, that is what every human needs to learn to live more fully at times!!!
    Isn't that why we envy dogs??? lol
  15. itsKismet

    itsKismet I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    I am so sorry that you are being threatened with hospitalization. I know what it's like because my family does the same thing to me. Hospitalization is a HUGE trigger to me because it represents a loss of control. Put me in a hospital and I go even further downhill because the emotional flashbacks become even more frequent and intense. Hugs.
  16. rringolangley2012

    rringolangley2012 New Member

    One cannot overstate that this response to an interaction is in my opinion a form of PTSD. I have been struggling with this for many years as my parents not only yelled at me but belittled me. This combination is toxic and destroyed my self esteem. While I know that you should never place your worthiness in someone's hands as they do not own it, sometimes we just cannot see the difference.

    In addition, kindness in our society is again in my opinion a greatly lacking commodity to selfishness and ego.

    Ask yourself this question, would anyone feel badly or respond poorly to someone speaking to them in a very kind tone of voice? I think it is obvious and while most may consider this some Utopia which is unrealistic, it costs nothing and reaps untold amounts of love. This being said many of us with this condition gravitate towards what we know and find ourselves in the exact same situation with our spouse/partners as I now do.

    While my wife does not yell at me much she does yell at many things and it triggers a response which causes me pain. People who have this condition are typically not aggressors and so this compounds the issue. If I do go back at my wife she is surprised to see me retaliate.

    Sometimes like today in a family event out of the blue, I was yelled at for not doing something quickly and I withdrew from the current event at hand.

    I know people cannot understand what I and others have been through but expect us to function normally. I do not know how to deprogram from this childhood trauma and will speak to my therapist but I'd have to say that sensitivity of others could really help towards recovery.
    Junebug likes this.
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