Coping strategies for fight or flight response

Paul007

Learning
So much is discussed about the I guess psych symptoms of ptsd that the physical symptoms get missed out.

I’m in a flare at present and it’s reminding me how much more goes on. I’m not a Dr, I was a nurse and have done lots of reading and discussions with clinicians on a colleague level in symptom lulls, but so many in the medical model are so over-specialised they forget the basics and big picture.

In short we get an activation of the sympathetic nervous system that doesn’t subside, combined with increased and prolonged release of things like adrenaline and cortisol. It’s no wonder that I forget to eat or feel nauseous eating, or that my senses are alert to basically everything and muscle tension lingers, and staying so heightened is exhausting so fatigue or plummets/crashes happen (like panic attacks more like hyperarousal attacks that last hours and feel like ordeals, then I get home or somewhere ‘safe’ and fall asleep regardless of the time because I’m exhausted trying to function despite the panic). The whole system can be stuck in fight/flight mode, during which blood flow is decreased to areas like digestion so constipation then ‘letting loose’, struggling to remember to eat or keep food down. In my case before I understood any of this I tried to cope with my trauma and ptsd symptoms by using what became anorexia (I literally wanted to slip through the floorboard cracks to escape the perps), and later the starvation mindset helped cut off the flashbacks/hyperarousal/etc as I was focusing on eating disorder behaviours compulsively (like counting and excessive exercise which released the pent up flight/fight energy). I’m in recovery or recovered from anorexia now but my body remembers and the triggering of the body’s trauma response triggers all those physical symptoms and others, not just the ‘psych’ symptoms commonly talked about.

Have others noticed any of this? I have some techniques to try and manage them, but it’s such a challenge, sometimes even to have a drink during those more acute heightened episodes.
I'd like to know more about the coping strategies for fight or flight symptom of PTSD as this symptom has come to me recently and I wasn't aware of the horrible effects on mind and body
 
In my own life, I feel AT MY BEST when I’m running on instinct, and all my instincts are right. There’s this synergistic, enervating, feeling of being… so alive.

But there’s a big difference between listening to one’s instincts, and being a slave to them.

And as right as it feels when my instincts are bang on?

When I’m sideways, off the rez, &/or losing my damn mind… so my instincts are just wrong… wrong time, wrong place, wrong person, wrong thoughts/feelings/actions? Worse, when I’m wildly out of control? That’s when I’ve learned to:

First? Recognise, Re-evaluate, Right it as best I can AKA take a timeout.

- What is happening
- Why it is happening
- Come up with at least 2 ways I can do things differently next time (because there will always be a next time)
- Make it right, as best I can

^^^ The more I stop myself, in the moment, and take a step back, and actively evaluate/assess & correct? The more I’m able to start seeing my own patterns, and be able to predict them. Predictable? Is preventable. Not in the sense of “because I know ABC is going to set me off, ABC won’t set me off, anymore!” but in the sense that I can take steps to mitigate -or eliminate- the damage of being set off.


How to actually stop & take a step back???

Grounding.

There are a bazillion different ways to “ground” one’s self, get present in reality & now (rather than fight/flight, panic/anxiety attacks, flashbacks, then/elsewhere) and most people end up with a double handful of different means/methods they use in different circumstances.

It will take a lot of trial & error (or plain good old fashioned luck) to find what works best for you.

The things that work best for ME are physical activity to blow off / burn off the chemical maelstrom in my bloodstream, &/or sensory tricks the overwhelm or distract/soothe my system long enough to get back in control.
 
And this.....

Single biggest thing I learned to help with everything PTSD. Why? The blinding flash of realization all stress is stress. It doesn't belong here or there - it all dumps into the same cup. Good bad or otherwallise.
Learn to deal with that cup and ALL your symptoms get better.....
 
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