Is there any hope to stop being triggered into reactive states?

hithere

MyPTSD Pro
I wasn't sure which forum to put this, whether this is a stressor and trauma issue, or relational...

My problem is that I am "self-aware" what my subconscious is constantly dealing with with the ptsd, but self awareness is not enough! I get completely HIJACKED with an internal reaction! When I'm "triggered," after my reactive episode I can 100% be self-aware and understand what happened, what the trigger was and why I reacted to it and what I was reacting to. My problem is that even though I have this awareness I'm still getting HIJACKED by these "back there" states. I've embarrassed myself about 5 times in the past 7 days-- 1) a phone call with my sister about airline flights, she says something benign and I go off on a rant about my childhood abuse, stunning her -- she has no idea where all that came from, but I do. I sent her text saying she didn't say anything to cause my reaction and that the reaction is all on me and apologized. 2) I'm participating in an activity with a group of people, I see an benign interaction between an 11 year old girl and a woman and Ka Boom I'm in an altered state frozen back in time and unable to think or interact with others for HOURS, 3) I walk in a store and I'm approached by a sales clerk. I tell tell her I just want to browse and if I see something I want I will specifically come find her. BUT then she does a little manipulative sales trick that makes me have to give her my name or if I don't I will look like an asshole and crazy woman, --Boom!---and I'm suddenly in an altered state-unable to think and totally pissed off at the clerk for ignoring my stated desire, and those I have those "back there" feelings of entrapment-- so I had to immediately leave the store without shopping. I was in an uncontrollable state. It doesn't matter that I "see" that these are innocuous -- and that I "see" it's the past events I'm repsonding to subconsciously, my brain just zaps into an altered state. It can take hours to come out of it.

Being self aware isn't enough! How do I handle these triggers. Stressful times seems to make these reactive moments more frequent
 

Skywatcher

MyPTSD Pro
I have been there many times. I try grounding, but it doesn’t always work. My most recent go to is 1/2 a Xanax. I’m actually concerned that I’m becoming addicted. When it happens at work, Xanax, texting my friend or talking to “safe” people are sometimes the only way back to present day. Sometimes I wonder if dbt therapy would help me. If my therapist is working that day I’ll ask for a phone call, but she only works three days a week.
 

hithere

MyPTSD Pro
I have been there many times. I try grounding, but it doesn’t always work. My most recent go to is 1/2 a Xanax. I’m actually concerned that I’m becoming addicted. When it happens at work, Xanax, texting my friend or talking to “safe” people are sometimes the only way back to present day. Sometimes I wonder if dbt therapy would help me. If my therapist is working that day I’ll ask for a phone call, but she only works three days a week.
Thank you @Skywatcher I have taken a valium to try and "break up" the disturbed states I get in and it does seem to help, but like you I don't want to depend on valium. Sometimes calling/texting a friend has helped me get out of it--but I want to prevent the experience in the first place somehow. I have been handling knives now, for example, something I could never do, or if I saw a movie or tv show and violence appeared esp with knives it would send me into la-la land-- now I can see knives and talk myself through it and it's getting easier with knives. It kind of sucks there are a million triggers.
 

Friday

Moderator
First off... Any hope to stop being triggered into reactive states? Yes, absolutely. More than hope, as it happens, that’s the entire goal behind trauma therapy; getting asymptomatic -or as close as possible- and something like 94% of people with PTSD get to that point of full remission; and of the remaining 6% of people who will deal with symptoms off and on? That’s not all symptoms at full strength forever and always, but only struggling with some symptoms, to greater or lesser degree.

So the odds are overwhelmingly in your favor.

PTSD is a lifelong disorder, and it’s responsive to stress/cyclical, so people in remission can get symptomatic again... but, again, progress back to being asymptomatic.

Being self aware isn't enough!
Nope. It sure isn’t. Knowing there’s a problem is a very different thing from doing something about it. A necessary step, and often one of the hardest; but only a step, not the whole shebang.

It’s like, I can be aware I’m hungry, but just knowing I’m hungry doesn’t solve the problem. I have to eat something.

Being aware of my patterns gives me a huge helping hand in solving those problems... hard to solve a problem that you don’t know exists, or to apply solutions when I’m only aware of part of the problem, not the whole scope.

To continue the parallel? I can keep eating and eating, and still be hungry... if I’m also thirsty, or the only thing I’m eating are crackers. No proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, or liquids. Yep. Crackers are a great first step to solving the hunger thing... but there’s more to it. Doesn’t mean the crackers are wrong, or it’s pointless, just that they’re a piece of the solution, rather than the whole thing. Ditto, getting hungry again? Doesn’t mean you should quit eating, because that obviously isn’t working. Also a big difference between starving, and day to day hunger. Being hungry doesn’t mean you’re starving, nor that all hunger is bad, and you should eat constantly to avoid hunger at all costs. Many many things will come up over and over in life, and even when we get totally badass at dealing with it? Some times it will be easy as breathing, others we’re really going to have to work harder to do something that’s usually easy, and sometimes we have to switch it up a bit, because life has changed in various ways.

Awareness + action + adaptability.
 

Friday

Moderator
Being self aware isn't enough! How do I handle these triggers. Stressful times seems to make these reactive moments more frequent
Practice.

In a few different ways.

- Recovering faster. Right now it takes you hours... with practice you’ll get down to minutes, and then be able to catch yourself right as you kick off, and yank yourself back under control before being hijacked.

- Blunting triggers, chipping away at them, until they aren’t triggers at all, anymore.

- Trauma therapy, to come at the root cause the triggers are coming from.

3 pronged attack that means -end result- for the most part you simply won’t get triggered at all, anymore, but when you do? You lose little to no time at all to them.

There are a helluva lot of different trauma therapy modalities, but the best thing I’ve ever found for triggers & stressors is exposure therapy. Which works in 2 ways; chipping away at the trigger itself, and practicing handling my own reactions & recovery time.
 

Skywatcher

MyPTSD Pro
but the best thing I’ve ever found for triggers & stressors is exposure therapy. Which works in 2 ways; chipping away at the trigger itself, and practicing handling my own reactions & recovery time.
I agree here. I literally just came back from the mall. I didn’t want to go at all because it scares me on so many fronts, but I had read an article on Psychology Today this morning that talked about exposure therapy for anxiety. It explained that you can’t change the thoughts or emotions, only the behavior. So I agreed to go to the mall, taking my own car. I made it through the most crowded after holiday sale store. Offered to take the group’s bags to my car and then left. I feel like I accomplished a huge step in recovery. I’m sure that some family members were annoyed by me not staying, but I actually don’t care because I’m now sitting in a quiet house doing self care to calm my nervous system down. I knew my body would react this way. Like the article said, if you continue the behavior facing your fear, eventually you will realize that the stressor isn’t as terrifying as your body has decided it is.

When it comes to triggers from my actual traumas, it may take a lot more time and work.
 
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