How Does Hyper Vigilance Effect You?

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Deimos

Confident
One of the biggest things I'm noticing in my short time here on the forum is how different our symptoms are. Different ways things manifest which I assume has many variables. I'm sure it has a lot to do with the kind of trauma (one time incident or on going) and our age/maturity level at the time of the trauma.

What I'm really curious about is hypervigilance. When I was being diagnosed by my T and we talked about this topic, she kept saying " it must be so tiring always doing that". I kept saying nope it doesn't bother me. She kept going on about it and it made me feel a bit abnormal.

For me it is constantly going on. There is part of my brain scanning at any given moment. It's not a conscious effort. Think of your computer in front of you. Your on internet explorer (or similar program) viewing this but there are other programs running in the background like the clock for instance. For me internet explorer is what ever I'm engaged in and the clock in the back ground is my hyper vigilance. It's always there somewhere scanning.

My hyper vigilance doesn't seem like paranoia to me. It just gathers information so I can respond quickly to a situation. I can't imagine not doing it partly because how long I've been doing it. It's so effortless that most times I don't see it as a bad thing. Is this normal? Is it possible I'm not giving it enough credit and it is doing harm? How does hyper vigilance manifest for you?
 

VDWngr1355

Confident
I have been doing it and scanning the environment like you for a long time that I didn't even pick up on it not being normal either. I scan all the time when I driving, when entering buildings, while at work, every where. I don't even notice it and I do know that my body puts out more energy than normal people's to keep up with it. But do I actually feel more tired because of it during the day- nope. I am sure, if I stopped doing it that I would feel the difference in energy level.

The only problem is at night not being able to sleep in a deep sleep because my body is paying attention to the sounds going on around me.
 

Deimos

Confident
I was the same at night as you until I got a job where my normal day can be up to 18 hours long. By the time I go to sleep I'm dead to the world. Before this job anything and everything would wake me. I would wake up from someone moving in my room even if they didn't make noise. It was like the air displacement from them moving woke me.
 

VDWngr1355

Confident
Yeah I try to kill myself in order to get a full nights sleep. I work 8 hours a day at Walmart. Come on work on the computer then exercise a lot as well. But most times it is still not enough. Have you tried a white noise machine? My T mentioned that to me last time and I haven't gotten one yet. I almost think it could make it worse because my body would try to listen more.
 

Srain

MyPTSD Pro
You know this is a great question. I thought I was over it but my husband came into the bedroom yesterday and gave me a kiss on the cheek...I can't remember him ever doing that...I said "wow!" He responded amazed ...long story short he basically said he was surprised I didn't punch him :(

Yikes! I didn't realize my automatic responses were still there!
 

Deimos

Confident
I spoke to my T more about this lately. I asked if most of my PTSD symptoms would go away after therapy is finished. She said the goal is to reduce and manage the ones that effect relationships but that the hyper vigilance will never be gone. I realized that I have reinforced it so long as a positive thing that is here to stay. I have always taken high risk/stress jobs that I rely on hyper vigilance. I guess there are worse things than being alert to my environment.
 
A

Anna

My hypervigilance has both negative and positive aspects. I try always to see a good thing in something that is bad, it is my way of dealing with it.

Negative:- Shaking, anxiety, not sleeping, being alert, paranoia.
Positive:- Acting without thinking, fast reponses, seeing the threat before it happens

On the negative side, when I get anxious and start to shake. I pass it off as shyness. Annoying part of not sleeping, the constant tiredness and going to the toilet frequently during the night. I am also paranoid. I do not and will never ever trust anyone or anything. I can live with this though and have learnt to deal with it, I know I am paranoid and can deal with it accordingly.

On the positive side:- I can catch objects that are falling very fast. I respond without thinking. I once saved my son, he nearly ran in front of a bus at night. Everyone else around froze in fear, including my partner and my mother. My arm went out without thinking, grabbed him and pulled him back. Did not even think about it.
Once when I was shopping a guy followed me in the car. I saw him in the supermarket car park watching me loading my shopping. Saw him follow me. He never even went in or out the market, was weird. I managed to lose him so he did not see where I lived. Never went to that market again on my own.
 
D

Deleted member 10686

Off the top of my head here are some examples of my hyper vigilance. What I find interesting is that when I first started going to therapy, my abuser had convinced me I was insane. I didn't admit to any trauma yet, but my T could tell that it was hyper vigilance.

I am constantly scanning the environment, constantly looking behind me, It is impossible for me to walk anywhere or even sit in my own home without having to look scan all areas of the environment, especially behind me. When people come up behind me at all or even make sudden noises- start talking without me expecting it, my typical response is jumping and yelling, "Jesus f*cking christ!" Sometimes, especially when it happens if I am outside smoking and my mom opens the door behind me, once I calm down I have to just laugh at myself... You would think that I'd get used to that by now!

Another thing I struggle with is always thinking I heard something. auditorily I will either hear, or think I hear, something I perceive as a threat and I get an extreme feeling of doom - I always have to check. Sometimes it isn't actually hearing a noise, it'll be like a feeling of a noise. I look out the peep hole a lot, and when that doesn't settle me have to go out (armed with some kind of object) and scan the street to feel like everythings okay again. This happens a lot..but it is much worse when I am alone. It also causes me to smoke more cigarettes because when I am out on the front porch I can see whats going on, whose approaching, whose leaving the street, but they can't see me.
 

Sterre

MyPTSD Pro
My hypervigilance is focussed on my surrounding. I always scan my surrounding, I am alert to danger or possible threats. I see where accidents may occur. I am always watchfulll and alert. I sleep very lightly, I wake up when my little girl is turning in her sleep, eventhoug she is sleeping in another room next to mine.
I scare easily.

My hypervigilance is also very internal. Once I get startled I become hypervigilant to my own thougts, I watch everything I think, and scan them for abnormalities. I scan everything I say and notice. I scan them on there normalcy. I scan everything I hear to watch out for abnormalities.

It very exhausting, and nerve wrecking, because while I scan myself for any abnormal thougts, they seem to automaticly come up in my head, scaring the hell out of me.
 

Meadowsweet

MyPTSD Pro
I dont know if its hypervigilance, but one thing I do find tiring and distressing is listening and watching people: their facial expression, gestures, tone of voice and I also remember what has been said from one conversation to the next and pick up on contradictions. It creates paranoia and anxiety that wouldn't be there if I wasn't looking out for danger. It has also created self fullfilling prophesies - in an anxious state I have, in the past, asked so many paranoid questions trying to find out if Im in danger, that the person on the recieving end responds aggressively and fullfills that fear. So it is a big part of my social problems.
 

Paranoid10

Confident
I am a medically retired, disabled Army veteran who served 8 years and 3 tours to Iraq. I am hypervigilant among many things. I am usually armed with some form of weapon or have it within a one arm's length reach of my position. I do scan my environment. I also scan people as well. I watch the hands and shoulders of the person I maybe talking with in order to telegraph their movements. I am a light sleeper. I wake up in the middle of the night to the slightest noises.
 

Lucille

Confident
For me, I find my hypervigilance to be a bad thing for two reasons:

1. It's exhausting!! Your sympathetic nervous system (which manages your fight or flight response) requires a lot of energy and adrenaline and both wear out very quickly. It's the body's reaction to a threat. It gives you fuel to run away or fight to escape the situation, but it's not sustainable to live like that all the time. This also has some long term effects on your body (like cardiac problems) I've read...

2. I always feel scared. Normally, being aware is a good thing... But because I'm overly vigilant, I always think there's always something lurking, just waiting for me to close my eyes to blink or let my guard down by laughing with friends or something... :cautious: So there's no relief. No place where I feel I can take a deep breath and feel safe. That can cause me to panic.

The adrenaline that pumps through my veins is very enticing though. That's why we get addicted, because we feel we function better that way, running at a faster pace than everyone else.
 
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