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Noise/Triggers - How To Explain To People

Discussion in 'Discussion' started by lyrical, Dec 15, 2009.

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  1. lyrical

    lyrical Active Member

    Argh! I feel like my head is spinning. I just had a massive row with my family, they were all being really noisy whilst we served up dinner and I couldn't hear what was happening because everyone was talking at once and it triggered me. I know its stupid but I get triggered when theres lots of different sounds/conversations going on at once. I panicked and where I would normally go to my room I was at the wrong end of the kitchen to explain and flipped and started yelling and fighting my way through.

    They don't understand why I say noise bothers me yet wear my headphones all the time outside i've explained its so I don't hear anything but the song playing but they don't get that. Or why when I go to my room I can just play the same melody on my keyboard over and over for hours.

    I know my Mum cares about me but she doesn't realise that so much she does triggers me and because theres nowhere else to run to I lash out in anger verbally. Or literally run out the front door and walk for hours. I've tried so hard to explain what its like and that I don't do these things to hurt anyone.

    I don't know how else to explain it. She doesn't understand
    why what happened bothers me, but she doesn't believe that half of what did happen did! I don't know what else to do.
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  3. amethist

    amethist The Mystic Duck

    Hi Lyrical

    I can understand about the noise being a trigger, for a lot of sufferers this is a problem. Different loud noises effect sufferers in different ways.

    My sufferer can't stand the noise of traffic, the bigger the vehicle, the worse he is.

    I know it is hard for you, but just maybe it is as hard for your mum too.

    Could she have a look on here or another web site, just to help her understand a little bit of how this all effects you.

    It's not much, but we do understand how hard it is for all concerned here.

  4. SunnyBrookFarm

    SunnyBrookFarm I'm a VIP

    Hi Lyrical -

    I get confused during commotion and noise - which makes me feel unsettled and then I trigger. I'm so sorry that you were "cornered" and couldn't get away easily.

    As far as your mom, I know first hand how hard it is to understand PTSD. My daughter was diagnosed 5 years before I was (I have C-PTSD from childhood Abuse - she has PTSD from another trauma -not my story to tell.....) Anyway, even though I certainly had dealt with triggers and had my own "issues" (undiagnosed) when my daughter was diagnosed I honestly did not know how to relate to her or how to help her. It was a truly frustrating time for both of us. I can imagine that at times she felt that I was triggering her - much like you stated about your mom.

    I honestly didn't understand, until I started falling apart, then all of a sudden I understood it all. Now we definately have boundaries, are open and honest, and are healing together.

    I did not seek out information, I thought I understood "mental illness", that was my mistake. But it wasn't because I didn't want to understand by any means.

    I'm telling you all of this - in hopes that you will have a conversation with your mom and share some information regarding PTSD and your particular triggers so that hopefully you can be in a happy place at home and your mom can have a better understanding.
  5. lyrical

    lyrical Active Member

    Hi Amethist,

    Thanks for your reply. I've tried giving her information to read but she doesn't. She says she understands what "my condition" is because she worked as a nurse. Yeah she nursed old people, not people with mental illnesses. Every time I try and explain anything to her she just says the same stupid things over and over like "yeah, I know that" or "i've been professionally trained in a medical profession". I feel like turning round and saying "well you obviously weren't professionally trained as a parent since you can't even listen" but I know that would be selfish of me.

    She doesn't use a computer so she'll probably refuse to come on here but i'll try and mention it to her when things calm down.

    I can't tell her everything thats happened to me as a) she won't believe the stuff i've told her already and it only gets worse, and b) she's a manic depressive and im terrified that if I let her know just how bad it is it'll send her into a downwards spiral whereas she's on a pretty even keel at the moment and I just can't face having to care for her right now.

    I'm probably just being over-sensitive. I'm freaking a bit as i've arranged to meet up with my biological father this week and she knows nothing about it. I know she'd go crazy if she found out but it's not her choice to make. I just want someone who'll listen to me and let me finish my sentences when i'm trying to explain stuff, plus I just want my Dad back.

    Sorry this has just turned into a mega rant now.

    Lyrical x
  6. lyrical

    lyrical Active Member

    Thanks SBF,

    I know deep down that what you say is right and she does want to help. I just wish she'd let me tell her what that is instead of making presumptions. It doesn't help that she thinks its in my head rather than things that have actually happened. I can't make her believe what i've told her, and at the same time how can she possibly expect me to tell her anymore? I can't leave myself exposed like that, it would hurt to much.

    I'm not really sure what the best or right thing is to do anymore.

    Lyrical x
  7. SunnyBrookFarm

    SunnyBrookFarm I'm a VIP

    Lyrical -

    When I first posted I did not realize your mom is manic depressive. Mine too. I DO understand your problem a bit more now. It may help some to give her some general information, but I understand if you don't feel safe opening yourself up more.

    One thing my counselor told me to help me "deal" with my mom - was to just expect she was going to act a certain way. To feel pity for her (like poor mom is so sick - she has no idea what she is even talking about today etc.) in my mind. Then if she's having a good day - well it's a nice surprise, but if it's a "typical" day - well your prepared. I know it sounds silly - but it really does help some.

    Your right, you can't make her believe you (and you shouldn't have too). I'm sure your mom wants to help you - but it sounds like her denial and her mental illness may be getting in her way.

    My suggestion at this point? Coping skills.......and lots of them. Are you seeing a therapist right now?

    I'm so sorry again -
    lyrical likes this.
  8. pjfas

    pjfas New Member

    This thread gives me an idea. If explaining triggers can be a challenge or a pain i wonder if there is such a thing as "universal Triggers"? that careers can learn from. I myself have just recently started seeing someone who I think has PTSD and think if such a "list" existed It would be of great benefit to all.
  9. SunnyBrookFarm

    SunnyBrookFarm I'm a VIP

    Pjfas -
    hmmm - I don't know that there would be "universal triggers". Its more likely that those of us that have had the same types of traumas would have similiar triggers or could see similarities in our triggers. Being that there is no way to even list all of the traumatic events that could bring you to PTSD - I don't really see how such a list could be created.

    I personally can relate to what Lyrical is speaking about - because loud noise and people speaking loudly is something that bothers me also, because I witnessed alot of physical/domestic violence as a child. Just one trauma of many and one symptom. Make sense? I wish that I could make it easier for you (being a carer and a sufferer I know how hard it can be to be a carer) but I just don't know that it's possible and would most definately be exclusive.
  10. pjfas

    pjfas New Member

    Thanks Sunny, guess my Naivety Is showing though. Just want to say that I find the information sufferers put up on this site invaluable.
    SunnyBrookFarm likes this.
  11. lyrical

    lyrical Active Member

    Hi SBF,

    Thankyou for your response I really do appreciate all contributions, its nice to talk to someone who understands.

    I understand what you mean when you talk about the ways of thinking (ie. she's sick and doesn't know), and I think that might help some. She has no sense of self preservation or staying away from things or people that might be bad for her, and in a way I feel exhausted from trying to keep her safe. It feels like i'm having to stop caring for her in order to take care of myself and I feel so selfish for that as I know that she does/did rely on me alot.

    Your kind words of not having to convince her to believe me really struck a chord. You're right I shouldn't have to, she's my Mum and surely she should be the one person in the world who does believe me, but as i'm sure you know it doesn't always work like that. It's a seperate issue I guess, she feels like we have a good relationship and can talk about anything, I daren't burst her happy bubble by telling her that actually thats all one sided and I haven't been able to rely on her for anything for a long time now. I'm not going to get fixed by a snoopy bandage.

    The noise trigger is a difficult one for me as its only certain types of noises that set me off. Raised voices, even happy ones, at home always do. My Mums said outright i'm making that up as I work in an office with like ten other people and we're all talking on the phone at the same time. But thats a very different type of noise thank god or I wouldn't even have a job. It feels like I have to justify the triggers to myself sometimes, is it even normal to have this much self-doubt?

    I don't really have any coping skills other than running away and blasting music into my headphones so that I quite literally can't hear anything else. I'm on a waiting list to see a therapist but i'm not sure how long that list is. I'm going back to the Dr's on Friday so am going to ask him then. I'm guessing it's going to be after the holidays though which really sucks as our house it always packed with people.

    I'm sorry I keep posting ranting type posts its just such a relief to find somewhere where people aren't yelling or second guessing me about all this stuff.

  12. kaddy1

    kaddy1 Member

    Hi Lyrical,

    There are a number of different noises or combinations that can trigger me or make me feel overwhelmed. It depends on how prepared I am for them. If I'm not expecting it gunfire or anything that sounds like it and I will hit the roof. That includes someone popping bubblewrap which happened the other day. That can be pretty damned embarassing! I hunt with my sons and that has really never bothered me.

    I try to avoid large crowds, parties or busy stores. I love Christmas time but totally despise shopping in large crowds. There's nothing like taking your kids shopping and you're walking around gritting your teeth with your fists balled up. I never noticed it until one of my sons told me I looked like I was ready to get into a fight.

    I can take it for a bit and then I have to get somewhere quiet and decompress. It's like I can't think straight, totally frustrating.
  13. MontanaJem

    MontanaJem Member

    Oh yes! Finally somebody else that understands this! :clap: My work environment can get very noisy and it gets on my nerves. Since I can't leave, my only other option is to plug in and play on! :smile: I could use ear plugs, but music is a kind of therapy to me so it helps me relax. It can get that way at home too and sometimes I just have to go to my room and do the same thing for a while so I don't lose my temper with my kids.

    You don't need to apologize for ranting - we all need to do it at times and this is a safe place to do it! No second guessing here either. :smile:
  14. Pixie

    Pixie Well-Known Member

    Hi Lyrical

    I just wanted to pop in and say that yes, it is normal to have lots of self doubt... especially when you aren't being validated by those closest to you...

  15. SunnyBrookFarm

    SunnyBrookFarm I'm a VIP


    Our relationships with our mothers appear to be similiar. My mom doesn't even know about my abuse (well, maybe she does I truly don't know- but regardless, it is not spoken of). I am the "protector" of the family, the one that tries to keep it all together. Therefore, like you mention, I just don't speak of these things with my mom. Honestly, if she didn't know it would make her sicker and if she does know - perhaps she's hoping I don't remember. Regardless, she is simply to sick for me to expect that level of support from her.

    It's hard being a "caretaker", trying to keep everyone else happy, and healing.

    I hope your doctor can help you get in to see a therapist soon, in the meantime, really try to find some ways to take care of YOURSELF. (Lock yourself in the bathroom, blast your headphones and soak in a bath if the noise gets to be too much).

    Holidays are tough, I know. Vent away - sounds like this is one of the few places you can - it's healthier for you to let it out, then stuff it down.
  16. lyrical

    lyrical Active Member

    Kaddy1- I totally understand what you mean with the expecting/not expecting noises affecting how well you can deal with stuff. The worst for me is if I’ve been playing music and don’t realise someone else is in the house – jeez I quite literally nearly died on the spot. Now I put the chain lock on so that the family have to ring my phone to get me to let them in!

    It must be hard going to shopping centres etc, must admit I have totally avoided that this year and done all my Xmas shopping online. I’m still trying to figure out when to do the food shopping, three in the morning is looking likely! Not so easy to do that when you have kids though, I admire the fact that you put yourself through tough times in order to take them shopping.

    MontanaJem – Thank you for posting, I’m glad it’s not just me who does this. That’s reassuring. I seem to have done nothing but rant since I signed up but it really is such a relief, especially when people are so understanding. Maybe I’m not crazy after all.

    Pixie/Rell – Thanks, sometimes it just feels like maybe I am going crazy, mainly because everybody here thinks I am. It’s like they’re watching every word I say waiting for me to slip up. Or if I manage to do something one day that I just couldn’t face the day before – like visiting other family members, they’ll say something like “see you can do it when you care enough”. It’s not a case of me not going because I don’t care, it’s more to do with the fact that I’m screaming inside and feel like everything unravelling at the edges.

    SBF – Wow it really does sound like the relationships are the same. Like you say getting that balance between caring and taking care of yourself is hard/impossible. Sometimes I feel like screaming at her, I wish she could be a ‘real’ Mum, but she can’t and I know it’s not her fault. I feel like my life is falling apart at the edges and there’s nowhere to turn to. I’m so glad I found this forum as just being able to rant and get some reassurance that I’m not alone is such a help.

    I honestly don’t know how much she knows, there are some things that I know for a fact she’s aware of but ignores as if it didn’t bother other people involved why should it bother me. I don’t know why it bothers me, because I was just a kid and the others were adults seems like a reasonable answer. Other stuff that happened with my brother she just plain refuses to believe, and if she won’t believe the small things how can I tell her the bigger stuff? Like you said, I can’t as she can’t provide that type of support. I wish I knew who could! I’m slowly coming to the realisation that with my family is probably not the best place to be for me, I don’t really feel safe here.

    I guess sometimes I just wish she could step up to the mark a bit more, give me a hug and tell me everythings going to be ok – even though I know its not. I want that so badly and it hurts so much that she can’t/won’t do that.
  17. JohnnyM53

    JohnnyM53 Well-Known Member
    Premium Member

    I’m prompted to post on this thread for a few reasons, which are:
    a) noise triggers, crowds and ear problems
    b) making someone understand someone else’s sickness
    c) bipolar disorder

    Regarding a), sudden or too much noise can be a trigger for me. If I’m very anxious or in an unfamiliar environment, it seems to get worse and my concentration and Anxiety shoot through the roof.

    Case in point, I was in an ultra-noisy, packed cafeteria in Venezuela some years ago and sitting with 16 friends. I couldn’t follow any of the conversations at my table and that at alone Depressed me, thinking something’s wrong with me.

    A few years later, I suspected maybe I needed a hearing aid. Four significant reasons made me think I had permanent ear damage.

    Later, I developed an ear infection and an ear specialist cleaned out my ear. While he was nursing me, he told me to avoid places with a hard floor (ex: no carpets) and lots of activity (ex: restaurants) because loss of hearing (especially if its in one ear only) usually results in psychological confusion for the brain.

    He then tested my hearing when the infection cleared up. Results: He was amazed. He said my hearing was of the quality of a 12 year old. Considering the abuse I put my ears through, that’s pretty amazing. Conclusion: Something was probably blocking my ear drum in my right ear and causing the confusion.

    So if you suspect hearing loss, you may want to have it checked as it can contribute to confusion in crowded places.

    Note: because of my hyper-sensitive hearing, and hyper-vigilance training, I still find it hard to follow conversations at my table, but I don’t experience confusion as badly as I did in Venezuela.

    Regarding b), I’ve come to understand that most people can’t understand/relate to someone else’s condition. At best, they can only guess what the other is going through,. And it’s worse with mental illness and its stigma, unless they have gone through some form of suffering themselves.

    Case in point: My friend has been fighting cancer for three years. While I understand what he means when he talks about chemo and radiation treatments, and being told two more times “it’s back”, I can’t fully grasp what he is going through.

    Plus, what he goes through may be experienced differently by someone else.

    I’ve given up trying to make someone understand how I was affected in my childhood and C-PTSD/Bipolar. I’ve come to realize that whether they understand or not won’t change my situation one nada. What I need from them is to trust that I am speaking the truth, that I know better than they do what I need to help myself and what works/doesn’t work, that I need them to understand that I am struggling, and that I am doing things to help myself. I don’t need their solutions. I need their support and empathy. I need them to understand that things affect me in ways they can’t understand, and that is what compassion is.

    That said, some people are too trapped in their ego, illness or beliefs to be able to support someone who is suffering. If it’s a parent, I suspect it’s worse, maybe because they have trouble admitting that their own child is suffering, or they believe their child is simply seeking attention, etc.

    In your case, your mom is a trained medical professional. If anyone should understand the nature of a struggle, it’s her. Maybe she can’t give you what you need (as a loving, understanding parent), because her “mom’s head space "is in her "trained profession head space”, meaning they have to detach themselves emotionally from patients. So maybe she is treating you as a patient, rather than a daughter.

    Now, if you’re looking for an example to make someone understand what it would feel like to be triggered by noises, ask them to imagine themselves being locked in a garage for a week with 10 cars, and each one has a different alarm system. They all go off one after another, then one at a time. Then dead silence. Then it starts again. After a week of that, nerves would be so shot, they’d jump every time their heard a car horn or alarm go off. Now ask them to imagine being dropped off in the middle of a foreign country’s busiest freeway. Cars going by would honk at them, and they’d freeze in fear wondering what direction to run. And the experience of being locked in that garage (conditioning), coupled with being in a foreign, chaotic environment (triggering situation) would result in psychological confusion and they’d probably be frozen in fear and panic.

    Regarding c), this disorder is now called Bipolar Disorder or technically more precise, Bipolar Depression. According to an Expert, most people who have this disorder suffer more from depression than from mania or hypomania. Now, if you’re worried that revealing information to your mom will negatively affect her and send her off into a deep depression, that’s understandable, but you don’t need to be suffering from unipolar or bipolar depression to be affected badly if you hear painful stories from people.

    On the other hand, if she refuses to or can’t understand how noise triggers anxiety in you, this has nothing to do with her bipolar condition. Bipolar disorder doesn’t affect the way or the ability of people to understand or be empathetic.
    SunnyBrookFarm likes this.
  18. lyrical

    lyrical Active Member

    Thankyou for your response JM53, you raise some valid points there, and plenty to think about.

    Maybe you're right about wanting to make other people understand my illness. It's impossible to explain to people so maybe its better not to try in the first place.

    In regards to Bipolar not affecting peoples understanding /empathy, I know that. But in my case I do believe that for other reasons if I was to speak with my Mum about the reasons certain things trigger me, the reasons themselves would in turn increase her depression. For example when we just touched on the subject she asked me outright "Do I even want to know this stuff? Is it going to be healthy for me to listen to? Be careful what you say". That stopped me in my tracks because no, its not going to be good for her to know this stuff, and theres no point in me telling her and editing as thats not going to be any help to me.

    It's hard to know who to say anything to, who to say a tiny bit to, and who to just not mention it all with. Unfortunately I tend to feel obliged to explain myself as sometimes my behaviour is, from the outside, rude. I ignore people, I walk out and leave places, I get really jumpy, If i'm triggered I get angry and (so i'm told) my eyes go dead and I look lethal.

    Right now I just feel scared and confused.

    Lyrical x
  19. JohnnyM53

    JohnnyM53 Well-Known Member
    Premium Member

    Hi Lyrical

    I, too, would be hesitant to share sensitive stuff with someone if I thought it would trigger a depression, flashback, etc. in them. And if it's someone close to me, like a family member, I wouldn't. So good judgment on your part not to share except if your mom wants to hear what you have to say.

    I stated in my earlier post that people who don't, won't or can't understand as nothing to do with their being afflicted with bipolar disorder, except of course if they won't/can't if they know hearing a painful, traumatic story will trigger them.

    So I just wanted to clarify that people's ability to understand isn't impeded in anyway by BP. It's a choice, not a symptom of the illness. There's a lot of misinformation in the media lately about people with BP, so I thought I'd mention it.

    Glad to hear some of the info I stated earlier is somewhat helpful.

    Noise is my most active one trigger.

    And if I didn't know any better, I'd say I have very acute hearing because I had to depend on sounds to survive a hostile environment. Considering I pounded drums to loud music on a stereo in a small basement for five years, and often blasted music from my headphones, I'm surprised my hearing is as good as the specialist says it is. Especially considering that it's a known fact that many drummers lose hearing in their right ear because that's where the crash cymbals are usually played.
  20. Lionheart777

    Lionheart777 Healing Warrior
    Premium Member

    I have sensory sensitivity to certain types of noise, especially if it is repetitious. I also know what it is like when the whole family is talking at the same time because when they do that, no one is listening; drives me up the wall. What bothers me most is that your mother seems kind of closed minded in that she thinks she already knows enough about PTSD and your issues so that, she can't really be open to learning. I imagine that must be very frustrating for you. The hardest part for me is knowing that I can't change my parents, no matter how important an issue is for me, they are not going to change. I don't really have any helpful suggestions but I did want to let you know that I can relate and that you are not alone.
  21. lyrical

    lyrical Active Member

    Thanksyou Lionheart777, its nice to know i'm not alone in this x
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