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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The Ptsd Cup Explanation

Discussion in 'Discussion' started by anthony, Dec 22, 2009.

  1. anthony

    anthony I'm Not complicated.

    Many people with PTSD struggle to understand why they fly off the handle at such little things, i.e., the toilet roll is around the wrong way, someone walked in front of you, that stranger looked at you, etc etc. The reason is actually quite simple, and easier to show than often explain, why those with PTSD tend to get angry quicker, more easily, and faster than others at little stupid things.


    Let me explain this little image above, and you will better understand the difference to those with PTSD, and those without.

    Cup 1

    Whether you realise it or not, everybody has this thing called “good stress” in their life, which consists of such things as getting out of bed, day to day tasks, going to work, cooking dinner, etc etc. No problems with that one.

    Cup 2

    The obvious, when something goes wrong, or is really hindering you, is generally classified as “bad stress”, which consists such things as paying bills, money, relationships, getting fired from your job, etc etc etc. Everybody gets bad stress at some stage within their day; it just depends on the amount, and the person themself.

    Now, as you can see, Cup 2 represents a normal person, and with both good and bad stress. They still have lots of room in their cup without overflowing (exploding, rage, anger, etc etc). A normal person can take a lot of stress within their daily life, before being pushed over the edge.

    Cup 3 (PTSD Sufferers)

    Now whilst we still have both good and bad stress, there is now this thing called “PTSD” in our cup. The problem with that is that we still have the same amount of good and bad stress as everyone else, though we also have this big chunk of PTSD which contains our traumas and more.

    As you can see from this cup, with good stress and PTSD, you really don’t have much room for anything else. You can see by the “bad stress” representation at the top of the cup, it is quite small compared to Cup 2 – thus this is why something so small and insignificant can make someone with PTSD fly off the handle so quickly (anger). A little “bad stress” for a person with PTSD, and they overflow quite quickly compared to anyone else.
    Chelsie, Ayudame, sol2016 and 154 others like this.
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  3. Grama-Herc

    Grama-Herc I'm a VIP

    Thank You for placing "The Cup Theory" in such a prominent place.Seems that when I needed it most in the past I would forget how to find it. I am using this as a daily reminder to keep my cool with mother and my life. It is helping me keep my temper in check---sorta !Anyway, to repeat myself, Anthony--Thank You!
    #2 Grama-Herc, Jan 6, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 4, 2013
    cdg, SeanCharles and Marie E. like this.
  4. helpcj

    helpcj New Member

    Yes, this is excellent. It validates what I always sensed in myself. But I always wondered: Why can't I handle stress?
    #3 helpcj, Jan 19, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 4, 2013
    SeanCharles, MomOfTwo, KatB and 4 others like this.
  5. Mommy to 2

    Mommy to 2 Active Member

    Hey now! I NEVER said I got ANGRY about the toilet paper roll being on "wrong"! LOL

    I like the cup theory, as described above. Thank You!
    #4 Mommy to 2, Feb 9, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 4, 2013
    Reality75, Trice, SeanCharles and 2 others like this.
  6. JadeBear

    JadeBear I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    Wow,makes sense.Thanks.
    #5 JadeBear, Apr 25, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 4, 2013
    Trice, SeanCharles and KatB like this.
  7. Grama-Herc

    Grama-Herc I'm a VIP

    Thanks for the reminder. Been having trouble lately---need this daily these days.
    #6 Grama-Herc, Jun 18, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 4, 2013
    Trice, SeanCharles and Marie E. like this.
  8. fury35912

    fury35912 New Member

    What a great analogy, opened my eyes. Thank you.
    #7 fury35912, Jun 23, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 4, 2013
  9. Mokz

    Mokz New Member

    Thank you I found that very useful.
    #8 Mokz, Jul 15, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 4, 2013
    Trice and SeanCharles like this.
  10. Jawn

    Jawn I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    Thanks. This helps me understand my wife's anger. Great example.
    #9 Jawn, Jul 26, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 4, 2013
  11. Mercy

    Mercy I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    H-m-m-m. I have always wondered about that. My form of anger is not to fly off the handle but to disassociate or silently try to become invisible and leave physically. The cup analogy works beautifully to help me understand why I seem to be able to take so little 'flack' from my family with each other or aimed at me. Thank you, Anthony.
    #10 Mercy, Aug 11, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 4, 2013
  12. laetaremaria

    laetaremaria New Member

    Hello Anthony.
    I found this article very helpful and extremely relevant to my behaviour at present.

    I have begun my healing journey. I am attending two courses currently. 1. Boundaries 2) Anger Change.

    This article has made me ackowledge that I do suffer PTSD.

    I would like to adhere to the rules and regulations of this forum. I know with your support I will be healed.
    #11 laetaremaria, Aug 19, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 4, 2013
    SeanCharles, JerriJinxed and Marie E. like this.
  13. LeoTheLion

    LeoTheLion Active Member

    At for long time I never understand why I get upset or sensitive over little thing that makes it so big. Until I see that article I felt that was the answer to my not able understand what is happening to me. OH there isnt much room in cup for my emotions or situation so I "overreact" or get upset easily. Good article and good concept!
  14. canucklady

    canucklady Active Member

    Is there a way to print this in "printer friendly" method
  15. anthony

    anthony I'm Not complicated.

    I just did a print preview in Firefox, and it looked ok...
    SeanCharles likes this.
  16. kers

    kers I'm a VIP

    I just have to say how much I adore this explanation. Whenever I am feeling overwhelmed and get frustrated with myself for being stressed, reminding me of this visual helps me appreciate what's actually going on inside of me.
    JerriJinxed and Marie E. like this.
  17. Paragoddess

    Paragoddess New Member

    I wondered why my "breathing exercises" had started to make me hyperventilate instead. And if anyone ever heard the toilet paper conversation at my house, you'd all be rolling in laughter
  18. ashlee

    ashlee New Member

    this was very helpful to me. i was always wondering why i got mad over small things. i could never explain it until now. thank you.
  19. anthony

    anthony I'm Not complicated.

    Hi, please use basic grammar as per the rules, ie. begin a sentence with a capital letter, or action will be taken against your account with no further warning.
  20. momwithptsd

    momwithptsd Member

    Thank you for this, it is very helpful. I also have issues with the toilet paper roll not put on correctly... hahaha.
    SeanCharles and Marie E. like this.
  21. a nonny mouse

    a nonny mouse Well-Known Member
    Premium Member

    My T used this analogy only she replaced the cup with a 'bucket'

    To expand a little further - if you can imagine a plughole at the PTSD stress water level - that's the release through trauma therapy. The aim of trauma therapy is not to stop things entering at the top (normal life stressors), but to pull the plug on ptsd level (the trauma) so the water level drops and one can then handle more stress, etc. It takes time, and I think this is exactly why a person needs a reasonably calm environment to work with trauma.

    As soon as the bucket overflows the person will be so overloaded at the top they'll start 'bailing those things out' rather than concentrating on the slow leakage out at the trauma level.

    (Hope that makes sense).
  22. SAM1029

    SAM1029 New Member

    To Anthony (OP) and Superjen, I have to say I like these analogies. I am constantly irritable and stressed out, and when my temper gets the better of me (which has become more of a problem only in recent years, not close in proximity to the traumatic incident) I always realize that the offending stressor is not something worth getting as worked up over as I do. This also makes me feel incredibly guilty, especially when dealing with my son. Some days are a lot better and I feel more relaxed, but 90 percent of the time I am just always worked up and on edge and it just seems like my tolerance to stress is well below the norm.

    The 'Cup' at least seems to show where the burden of PTSD really lies. Thanks! I am finding this place more and more helpful with each thread I read. :)
    SeanCharles, MomOfTwo, KatB and 4 others like this.
  23. blueangel371115

    blueangel371115 Well-Known Member

    wow, that makes total sense.
    SeanCharles, JerriJinxed and Pix like this.
  24. justwannabeme

    justwannabeme Active Member

    Makes so much sense, thanks for the information.
    Now to figure out how the drain the pond, because for me a cup, or bucket is just not big enough to hold all my crap. The ocean is just like a few hundred feet down the hill from me and the harbour might just be able to hold it, I guess that's why I'm here. Yup I fly off at the most foolish of incedients, toilet paper, ha, lol, here too! It makes me absolutely nuts. I am so tired to people telling me I am oversensitive, or feeling so touchy, and on edge. If I can't escape, get away, I shut down or worse, I lash out. I become a toxic bit*h, and I hate myself,and then I feel so embarassed, drained, I want to crawl in a hole and tell the world to bite me and f'off. My daugther and granddaughter wear it the most, I don't go around other people unless I have to. I throw out all these fears and insecurity, so hurtful. And then Guilt, and it goes on and thanks again for the all the sharing here. Not feeling like such a big o'l bag of compost.
    Well it's time to start looking for the plug to drain this. But at least now I know there is a plug, and that's something isn't it? Wouldn't a scaple be handy, just lance it off and throw it away, now that's a wish!
    And thank you Anthony for making me use my brain and keep up with my grammar my key stroking, the ol' grey matter gets pretty mushy and lazy sometimes.[​IMG]
    SeanCharles, caroline_13 and LSNP like this.
  25. Phaed

    Phaed Active Member

    I fly off the handle too. I really wish I didn't. After all the things I have overcome this is one I cannot seem to get a great handle on. Thanks for posting this explanation. At least I know I am not just some horrible, angry person.
    SeanCharles and Elizabeth7 like this.
  26. browniegirl

    browniegirl New Member

    This is a great article and I wanted to thank you - it helps me understand my husband's PTSD and now mine.......and although I've not been diagnosed, I have several facets of it that fit unfortunately due to some severe traumas that my husband did to me over the past 11 years - now that I have finally stood up and said "no more" and he is getting serious help, I am trying to get well myself - this is a great start!! Thank you.

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