Extremely bad trigger getting triggered daily out of nowhere. Looking for advice. Sensitive issue

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littleoc

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This is an extremely sensitive issue for me. Apologies in advanced for vagueness.

I have an extremely strong trigger that has the ability to ruin entire weeks for me. It’s one I haven’t told any therapist why I have, but have mentioned it to one years ago. My therapist at the time claimed that the trigger was so peculiar that I would never need to have it treated nor worked on, especially since it would be more distressing to work on it compared to the payoff of not having the trigger.

Unfortunately, I have suddenly been shoved into a world where it is a nearly daily occurrence, and I can’t talk about it, and I’m losing my mind. I’m having intense nightmares, OCD attacks where I shower several times and wash my clothes until they disintegrate, I’ve been spraying perfume everywhere that I may be allergic to, and occasionally it’s getting to me so powerfully that I am losing my sense of the present and believing I am a young child. Even my dog is dysregulated here and has difficulty getting to me. I am attempting to hide it daily because the person I live with would feel ashamed.

I can’t move out immediately, so what I’m looking for is advice on how to not lose my mind. I will not explain how I got this trigger, to be clear, but I will admit (with a huge fear of judgement) that the trigger is feces related. In the house I’m in, it always smells like feces. The person who lives here (if you know who from my other posts, please do NOT identify this person besides “person you live with”) is not a clean person.

I was away for nearly five years and this person did not even make sure litter boxes were scooped. They were overflowing and cats were going anywhere else, and that wasn’t being cleaned up either. For a while my bird’s poo needed to be examined daily. Worse yet, and the part that’s causing the most harm, the person I live with keeps pooping themselves, VERY often. And the smell gets through the entire house and I am not allowed to react. I shower nightly and last night pooped pants were just sitting on the shower curtain rail and I had to fight the urge to self harm until four in the morning. I showered several times and was terrified of touching the floor. While I was dysregulated due to a lack of medication (town storage) I ended up completely losing it due to this trigger and a few other major ones (shootings, etc).

Sometimes I will be in public with this person and the person will just.... crap themselves. And smell triggering. And I’m not allowed to react. Would be shaming behavior. The person won’t see a doctor over it. Seems to be related to high blood sugar that the person just don’t address.

For the record, this person is a nice person and seems embarrassed, but will randomly start telling me about the issue in a way that the person would be deeply offended if I said I couldn’t handle the topic. This person likes to talk about my PTSD but act like it mean nothing.

What do I do? I’m sorry that this topic is so gross and disturbing. Thanks for baring with me.
 

Ronin

MyPTSD Pro
I don’t think it’s too much to expect basic hygiene. It is not in the same lair as shaming a person over it.

Embarassment just won’t cut it, they should address this issue, that IS their responsibility.

This ain’t just your stress and triggers acting up IMO, it is something that would drive people bonkers even without PTSD.

(And nah, not disturbing. You are having a trigger, and working on a trigger, while in a bad situation, cheers for the effort. :tup:)

Do you have any counter scents?
Something that allows you to tune out other things for a minute or ten before you get out each day (assuming you do, or can, for at least small amounts of time)? Things that are comfort, or any close to that?

And did you have some ways of coping with this when a child / that you might use now?
 

Freida

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If I had to live in a situation like that I would wonder how to keep my sanity too - PTSD or no PTSD. If course this is a trigger! I'm really glad you are asking for suggestions because I know how tough this is.

Here's a wild idea....can you park a camper or small trailer on the property to live in? They can be pretty inexpensive if you don't want something fancy. And would be cheaper than rent but still get you out of the house.

I think you are up against a pretty serious mental illness (theirs not yours) so I'm not sure can force them to change. But you are completely within your rights to demand better hygiene

Fabreeze, Baking soda, and a 50/50 mix of cleaning vinegar and dawn dishwashing soap are all good at cleaning and odor control. Maybe one of those will help??
 

bellbird

Sponsor
Absolutely zero judgement @littleoc .

You are so very strong to have put up with this for so long, I can't even imagine how difficult it must be.
Is there any outdoor space at this house?
I would buy a tent and pitch it on the lawn.

Is it a possibility to clean the bathroom (I am by no means suggesting that it is your issue)? And have that as a clean refuge in that house? Or would they soon dirty it again?
If that's not possible, are you able to shower anywhere in town? For example at a public swimming pool, or maybe a gym, or your university?
Somewhere that has shower and bathroom facilities that you can use temporarily until a permanent plan is put in place.
 

Sietz

MyPTSD Pro
No suggestions, just want to say I think it's great you're addressing this issue.
I know how horrible it has been for you not to be able to talk about it.

I do agree with Ronin that a discussion with the person you're living with is in order. One thing we tend to do while we think we're protecting another person is enable their bad coping skills in our own expense.
It's really time you put yourself first here.
 

TTC18

MyPTSD Pro
You can't move out, and the person you're living with won't change- you're faced with this trigger while you're at home, and out in public, and you aren't even able to say anything about it. Right?
I can't believe a therapist said you shouldn't have to deal with that as a trigger because you won't come across it. Poop smell is a part of life - from public restrooms to even other people's houses and any kind of social occasion, particularly ones that involve kids. You're in this intensely-triggering situation - do you have a T right now? Someone who can help you? Do you have anyone in real life you can access to perhaps perform some sort of intervention with the person you're living with? (because this isn't a healthy situation, realistically - poop everywhere isn't sanitary, diseases can form - one of which is toxoplasmosis from the cat poop - which literally causes brain damage and other crazy behavior, which may be partially the cause of this person's disregard for the mess and smell) Does this person have a doctor you can talk to, or is there a family friend, pastor, etc you can appeal to for help?
If there's no one you can reach out to for help, can you do a huge clean of the house, and then find a piece you can call your own that you can drown in febreeze and pretty smelling candles and air purifiers and so on? What about a face mask/filter like the ones people wear to avoid being sick? You could say you have the flu and don't want to spread it around, and just wear the filter mask all the time. ?? Burn incense (if safe) ?? In the bathroom, keep some matches and burn a match to get rid of the smell if it's in the bathroom... Start looking at plans to leave, and then focus on the plan as much as you can? I hope you can find a way out - I'm so sorry you're dealing with such a horrible situation.
 

littleoc

Sponsor
Hello! Thank you for the support. I really appreciate it.

I apologize for the gigantic gap before I replied. I am having a hard time with this topic. Thank you so much for your thoughts.

I want to clarify that the person having this problem is not doing it on purpose. Their diabetes is unmanaged and they have nephropathy. I think it caused physical problems.

It is frustrating. Would any medications help?

I found a spray that's flowery that I'm not allergic to to spray around. The soiled pants are still hanging in the shower after all this time. Luckily I have shower shoes.

I do have a tent. I also have a sleeping bag that could stand well below freezing with its liner especially. (I like hiking a lot.) I just don't want it to look like I'm avoiding them. I'm afraid of offending or making them feel worthless. I tried recommending diapers, but they said that they were visible through pants -- they won't buy regular clothes because they claim they're too fat. (Fatter people have better clothes around here -- and no one cares what they look like anyway!). It must feel humiliating. But it's triggering me so badly.

I looked into RVs. I found one for 32,000$ so when I get a pay check I may go for it. We'll see.

(And nah, not disturbing. You are having a trigger, and working on a trigger, while in a bad situation, cheers for the effort. :tup:)
Thank you. That really means a lot to me.
Do you have any counter scents?
I think my perfume? I have to be careful, though -- I'm allergic to a lot of them and my bird can't be exposed to most things (including candles).
And did you have some ways of coping with this when a child / that you might use now?
Unfortunately the incident this triggers is one that caused my PTSD more than anything else in my childhood. So I never quite dealt with it at all.
Fabreeze, Baking soda, and a 50/50 mix of cleaning vinegar and dawn dishwashing soap are all good at cleaning and odor control. Maybe one of those will help??
That sounds bird safe, so thank you for the suggestion
Is it a possibility to clean the bathroom
I cleaned my personal bathroom. It doesn't have a shower in it, though. But I use it for brushing teeth, washing hands, all that. So that's helpful.

I cleared out a space to be a bird room, so that helps. It just smells like bird in here.
Somewhere that has shower and bathroom facilities that you can use temporarily until a permanent plan is put in place.
Hm, probably not. I'd be having the same OCD problems but on a worse level. Can't touch the walls or floors of public places. I should work on that, but honestly the best place I can think of is the gym, and I happen to know that athlete's foot fungus is incredibly contagious, so...
One thing we tend to do while we think we're protecting another person is enable their bad coping skills in our own expense.
That's true. Something to think about.
I can't believe a therapist said you shouldn't have to deal with that as a trigger because you won't come across it. Poop smell is a part of life - from public restrooms to even other people's houses and any kind of social occasion, particularly ones that involve kids.
Good points. I hang out with my nephew who isn't potty trained. I have to pick up my dog's poo. I have to sit through dinner with my sister who loves talking about poo and asks me medical questions about it any time she's sick or something. I would have been nice to have not had this trigger by now.
do you have a T right now? Someone who can help you?
Yes, but I keep a lot of secrets from her (pretty much everything still), and this is one of them. She's a bit honest about what grosses her out, and she knows the person I'm talking about, so it wouldn't be good.
Do you have anyone in real life you can access to perhaps perform some sort of intervention with the person you're living with?
We are working on that. It's really hard.
then find a piece you can call your own that you can drown in febreeze and pretty smelling candles and air purifiers and so on?
Yes, I did this -- I cleaned out my office space and made it into and office and bird room. I found a reason to keep the door closed, which helps a ton.
What about a face mask/filter like the ones people wear to avoid being sick?
I'm worried the person will take offense. But thank you for that suggestion. I may attempt it at some point anyway.

I feel so ashamed about this because everyone else seems to be able to deal with it. But then I have to drive home a person who soiled themselves in public and is trying to act normal and it's just so unbearable. Yet my sister would probably be normal about it. I don't know. I know they can't help it. Is there a medicine that would fix it?
 

Mach123

MyPTSD Pro
I lived with this and it's very difficult. I don't have any advice but I'll tell you I was very symptomatic when this was going on. I thought all my symptoms added up to that situation but that's not helpful while it's going on. (In other words it was a continuation of what I'd always lived with) Bottom line I couldn't help my reactions at the time and I wish I had it to do over again now so I could be kinder to that person (for both of us). I was just thinking about it today and I'm glad I saw your thread. I'm very sorry you are having to go through this.
 

Ronin

MyPTSD Pro
Yet my sister would probably be normal about it.
... and probably thinking the same things as you, maybe sans the trigger part (but still annoyed, uncomfortable, whichever other variant of non ptsd reactions people have that is similar discomfort zone).

Seriously, you are not the only one dealing with it, nor are you being extra awful, or awful at all, by having that reaction. :)
 

bellbird

Sponsor
Hm, probably not. I'd be having the same OCD problems but on a worse level.
Fair point. Completely understand.

The reasons why I suggested a tent is because I felt it'd be a low cost option + you could also "be around" so the person wouldn't feel as abandoned.
Would it work to come up with a pretend uni assignment somehow related to sleeping in a tent? Haha. Or you could say that you were interested in viewing the stars or something.

And re adult diapers, they're actually getting pretty good at making discrete ones these days.
I actually had to wear some at one point in time (for fear of loss of bladder controls , rather than bowels) gosh I've never admitted that to anyone before. But yeah, they were ok.
Perhaps you could suggest that the person practice wearing them around the house to see how they feel/look under clothes, before trying them out in public?
 

Freida

Sponsor
Ok. I get that this happening is not the person's fault. It's the result of a medical problem.
However.
The soiled pants are still hanging in the shower after all this time.
I tried recommending diapers, but they said that they were visible through pants -- they won't buy regular clothes because they claim they're too fat.
How the person is dealing with it is COMPLETELY their fault. An adult who refuses to keep themselves clean? Who leaves soiled clothes laying around the room? Who refuses to do anything to mitigate their condition because it might make them look fat? Who expects everyone else to put themselves in danger (and yes - feces can make people sick) because they refuse to do what is necessary to address their condition?

Nope. No way I give them a pass on that. There are a lot of medical issues that cause unfortunate and embarrassing results. But refusing to do anything about it? That's on them. I'm also going to guess it is a huge indication of a serious mental illness. Because it is not something an average (not normal, just average) would do in a situation like this.
 
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