Other Looking for help with coping when triggered by other people's actions.

Hi everyone, it's my first post on here and my first time on this forum. I hope I'm posting in the right area and doing the right thing; please feel free to move this or give me any pointers if necessary. I will have a good read about and hopefully find my way around like that.

I've had a lot of different problems over the years, all stemming, I think, from childhood abuse and then abuse in my adult life as well. I've worked really hard for twenty years through counselling, self help, cleaning up my lifestyle (drink, drugs, unhealthy relationships, all gone). I've been through a range of NHS mental health services as well as private ones, quite a wide variety of meds over the years and I try to keep myself level with yoga, walking, resting and so on - the usual stuff that most people do when they're trying to stay well.

The one thing I don't seem to be able to get a handle on is stopping a very extreme physical reaction in certain every day situations. This will sound silly but there are certain things people can say in a certain tone of voice that make me feel like I'm about to be attacked. It's usually in a situation that I feel to be unfair - again, it will sound silly but something every day like someone cutting in front of me in a queue and then being rude to me if I (politely) say, "excuse me, there's a queue here, you just cut in front". I don't even know why these sorts of things set me off but I immediately get very hot, I start to shake, my heart pounds and my head feels like I can't control a single thought. It takes me a long time to calm down enough to be able to feel back in control again (several hours in most cases) and often several days for all of the physical symptoms to go completely - I get so tense that I get a lot of pain in my back, I get an upset stomach that can take several days to settle, headache and so on. All from a small incident that most people would find mildly annoying.

There's no pause between the event happening and feeling that ill and out of control. It happened this morning, the whole interaction was less than sixty seconds and yet I'm here, twelve hours later, still feeling shaky, sick, bad head and so on.

I just wondered if anyone has found anything they can do, right in that moment that it's happening, that just kind of stops or slows that central nervous system response? It feels like it's all physical - I don't think to myself "oh, I'm going to be attacked" and then start to feel ill - it's like the physical stuff happens immediately and then the rest of me is playing catch up for days afterwards. I don't know if that makes any sense, reading it back it all feels a bit jumbled. Maybe it's ringing a bell with someone? Thanks in advance
 

Teasel

Not Active
Hiya, I just replied to your other post, asking what symptoms you were experiencing but here we are.

Have you tried any grounding exercises?

I find the dropping anchor exercises available here very helpful indeed. There are 4 audio files, you can download them on to your phone or computer.

I use the shorter ones when I'm only a bit activated, and the longer ones when I'm really having troubles.
 

RNrecovery

Learning
I second grounding exercises. They were really hard for me when I started but now they feel like second nature. It gets easier over time and a lot of messy practice. I remember when it seemed like I would never get through a day. I wish I could say I don't get triggered or have flashbacks. I will say though that ground myself allows me to move quickly back to the present so I can get through my day successfully. That doesn't mean some days aren't harder than others. I find myself back in therapy due to a flare up of symptoms.

Everyone has been wonderful here. I appreciate the kind but direct answers. They have been where you are at. You will get a wide variety of answers because one thing doesn't work for everyone. But there is something "here" for anyone who takes the time to look.
 

ruborcoraxxx

MyPTSD Pro
Hi @PeaceRequired , what you're describing sounds like a physiological flashback. Like, you don't know the imagery anymore but your body is responding with the whole thing, and perhaps a little more.

I also agree with grounding exercises. Basically to slow down and start noticing what's around you and breathe. 3 seconds intakes by the nose and 5 seconds outtakes by the mouth. Quite like in yoga. You adjust with your rythm.

Some people like to have a little thing as an anchor to remember them that everything is alright. Something small you can carry with you.

I'm really sorry you're experiencing this it's harsh and very destabilising.

Do you have therapy for PTSD in itself?

Welcome to the forum, btw 🙂
 
Hiya, I just replied to your other post, asking what symptoms you were experiencing but here we are.

Have you tried any grounding exercises?

I find the dropping anchor exercises available here very helpful indeed. There are 4 audio files, you can download them on to your phone or computer.

I use the shorter ones when I'm only a bit activated, and the longer ones when I'm really having troubles.
Hi Teasel, I just replied on the other thread as well and then saw this one on here lol. I've tried/try to meditate and to do breathing exercises but I've not heard of the 'dropping the anchor' that you mention so I'll have a look at that and give it a try. Thank you very much.

I second grounding exercises. They were really hard for me when I started but now they feel like second nature. It gets easier over time and a lot of messy practice. I remember when it seemed like I would never get through a day. I wish I could say I don't get triggered or have flashbacks. I will say though that ground myself allows me to move quickly back to the present so I can get through my day successfully. That doesn't mean some days aren't harder than others. I find myself back in therapy due to a flare up of symptoms.

Everyone has been wonderful here. I appreciate the kind but direct answers. They have been where you are at. You will get a wide variety of answers because one thing doesn't work for everyone. But there is something "here" for anyone who takes the time to look.
Oh thank you, RNrecovery, it's great when people are honest and say that something isn't a 'cure' but it kind of helps. If I can get to a point where a minor problem doesn't cause a major one that would be helpful for me. I will definitely be having a good look around - I hadn't logged on again because I'd struggled so much since I first posted that I knew I wouldn't cope with anything that I perceived as an 'attack' (and I do apologise if I'm using any words that might trigger someone else, I'm never really sure of the best way to describe these things). But for example, if no-one had replied then when I'm in 'that' headspace I'd see that as proof that I'm worthless and no-one cares, if someone had posted a 'pull yourself together' type answer it would have set me off again and so on. So it's really great to see honesty and directness - I can't cope with waffle :) I'm glad you're seeing some progress in your own situation. Thank you.

Hi @PeaceRequired , what you're describing sounds like a physiological flashback. Like, you don't know the imagery anymore but your body is responding with the whole thing, and perhaps a little more.

I also agree with grounding exercises. Basically to slow down and start noticing what's around you and breathe. 3 seconds intakes by the nose and 5 seconds outtakes by the mouth. Quite like in yoga. You adjust with your rythm.

Some people like to have a little thing as an anchor to remember them that everything is alright. Something small you can carry with you.

I'm really sorry you're experiencing this it's harsh and very destabilising.

Do you have therapy for PTSD in itself?

Welcome to the forum, btw 🙂
Hi ruborcora, thank you for the welcome and the info. I will definitely incorporate grounding exercises into my routine now. The therapist I'm seeing at the moment works with a range of issues, one of which is PTSD, although I didn't mention it by name when I contacted her as I don't have a diagnosis and I kind of worry about 'diagnosing' myself. One of the problems I've had which still causes me a lot of anxiety was being falsely accused of MSBP when my son was small. My son has complex needs, many of which haven't made themselves apparent until different stages in his life (it's mostly neurological stuff so some of it hasn't shown until he's not reached a particular milestone at the age appropriate time). Social workers accused me of fabricating his problems when he was little and I had to fight to keep him so I do have a real problem now with healthcare professionals (and all other kinds) and I'm really careful never to say anything if I can't prove it. Sorry, that might be too much info at this point but basically I'm just saying I didn't tell the T I think I have PTSD but she has said exactly what you said about the physiological flashbacks and that the physical response is because my nervous system is fighting an old fire, is the way she puts it. I should say I do find her very helpful. I'm aware that I find it difficult to be mindful and focus on breathing or anything like that because I don't feel safe if I kind of look in on myself. So it's a bit of a cycle sometimes, the fear of concentrating only on me kind of stops me doing that thing that might make me less fearful :) I'm going to keep trying, though, thank you for the info and I'll think of something to carry as an anchor. Thank you.
 

DharmaGirl

MyPTSD Pro
I've been in therapy for over 5 years with different therapists, and I still have a really pronounced startle reflex. One of my therapists that I really liked had me hold out my hand and yell stop (in my mind) as soon as I startled. After doing this for awhile I was able to tell a millisecond before I startled that I was going to, but otherwise it didn't seem to help much. I'm having PTSD brain. I was excited to share something new with you completely forgetting that it didn't do much, lol. Oh well, maybe it will work for you. I'll ask my new therapist what the point of that was and let you know if you are interested.
 
I've been in therapy for over 5 years with different therapists, and I still have a really pronounced startle reflex. One of my therapists that I really liked had me hold out my hand and yell stop (in my mind) as soon as I startled. After doing this for awhile I was able to tell a millisecond before I startled that I was going to, but otherwise it didn't seem to help much. I'm having PTSD brain. I was excited to share something new with you completely forgetting that it didn't do much, lol. Oh well, maybe it will work for you. I'll ask my new therapist what the point of that was and let you know if you are interested.
DharmaGirl, thank you, I will try it, it might help! Even if it just gave me a little pause - enough time to walk away or just start deep breathing or something - then it might help. I'm sorry it didn't help you, though, it is hard when you try these things and they don't seem to do much. With me it's the lack of time between the event and my reaction, it feels like it's happening before my brain's even worked out what's going on. If I can slow it down just a touch then it would help. Thank you :)
 
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