I need help coping with PTSD in a heavy social psychology course


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I have PTSD and felt triggered in my class. Our professor shared a story about a kid who was so afraid to participate. I resonated with this so deeply that my own CSA & other abuse came back. My mind was screaming at me. I immediately felt like I was going to either pass out or ralph, I almost peed my pants, my body felt dirty and tingly, I couldn't breathe and my heart raced. Everything my family swept under the rug when I was a little girl came flooding back. It doesn't help that my cousin recently committed suicide. Been thinking a lot about family shit for the last couple of months.
Anyway, after feeling triggered, this is all I can think about. I can't focus on homework. My head is aching & Ive been throwing up.
I haven't been able to connect with a therapist, but will do so. Until then, how do I survive in school? What do you do to ground yourself? I know this class gets into some deep so should I ask my professor if I can take some reset breaks as needed?
I hate being messed up.


I think you should talk to your professor soon and perhaps they can help you find a therapist. It sounds like it is definitely a triggering experience for you so you want to be prepared with the right tools. You aren't alone as I would be triggered sitting through a class like that too..yikes... I like that whole avoidance, disappearing act thing.... lol... I hope you feel better soon.


I have PTSD and felt triggered in my class...
Hello! That is a lot to have to deal with especially in a class setting, which I imagine adds to the discomfort. I have a hard time with in person class as well because I have been easily triggered or otherwise just uncomfortable and on edge with certain group dynamics. That's why online classes I've been taking during this pandemic have gone better! I can still participate but I don't feel "trapped" like I would in a physical setting around a large group of people.
Was it the story they shared that was triggering to you or is it generally the content of the class?
You said you've been thinking a lot about family stuff the past few months and your cousin recently committed suicide. That's a lot to carry, emotionally. How are you dealing with this?
You asked how to ground, and in all honesty it's easier to distract myself than ground. If it was me in your situation in class, I would just try to distract myself to get through the class until I could get home. It doesn't feel safe for me to be triggered in groups, my mind won't let me fully process things until I am home or in a safe space.
To ground myself, usually hiking/walks, bike rides, journaling, having a connection with nature are the most effective ways for me to do that. Also, in the most basic way, focusing on my breath. That is what I do when I am not at home and experiencing ng ptsd related things like intrusive thoughts and anxiety. My brain, if left interrupted, will run and run when triggered and continue to dig up painful thoughts. Bringing focus to the breath is simple but most effective to get out of my head and into my body.
That's what works for me, it may be different for you.
Do you know some ways that have been useful for you to ground yourself?
Reaching out to your teacher and communicating what you need by taking a break when things get too intense to focus is, I think, a good idea you had. It's good that you are looking to find ways to care for yourself while also pursuing your class (assuming your class is important to you).
I hope that works for you, in a combination of self care maybe before and after class.
Please also keep in mind that your well being is most important. If you feel that coping skills/taking breaks are not helping you manage well enough and you are still distressed, you can always choose to not take the class at this time (I assume)


@Nrw - does your school have something like an office of accommodations, or disability services? That's generally the best place to get the help you are looking for. Your professor may not be able to do anything to allow you things like reset breaks, unless they are notified by the university/college of your accommodations.


Came here to say something about ADA accommodations if you are in the states. I have a specialist degree in psychology and should have notified my university of my PTSD sooner for accommodations than I did, but when I got them it made a world of difference.