Not Realizing You've Been Triggered

JadeB.

MyPTSD Pro
After pretty much a month of agony of being symptomatic I woke up feeling fine today. Now I can clearly see that I had been triggered and exactly what it was.

That happens often, not realizing it until after the fact. I'm thinking I could get over it much quicker, with much less damage and suffering, if I could just realize it at the time.

What are some ways to be able to take a step back long enough to even have the clarity to realize it?

Or is that not possible?

If I had a personal assistant that was with me at all times observing and letting me know hey, you seem to have been triggered, it would be so helpful.
 

Survivor3

MyPTSD Pro
It is possible! A full on trigger instantly changes your mindset and mood but you can have "traces" of bad memories which might not really effect you especially if your busy and have things to distract you.

Coping strategies vary and are personal to the individual but for me I either distract myself or sit still, drink water and listen to music.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
I hear you!

It is possible to recognise it. I'm currently recognising it in myself. Big battle in trying to manage it, but it is possible.

Can you think about how you feel when you are triggered compared to when you are not? Are there patterns? For me it is: finding it hard to concentrate, big desire to be still and not move, scared, hyperviligence more than usual, etc.

Also, if I think about the situation and my response and if I can recognise that my response is disproportionate to the situation: it's me being triggered.
 

JadeB.

MyPTSD Pro
Thanks @Survivor3 and @Movingforward10

I guess I should have added that my triggers/reactions/symptoms depend on the triggers and which trauma . There's times I instantly know I've been triggered and I can manage with distraction, self care, etc.

But like this last time a month ago(which I realize now in hindsight)I became so instantly overwhelmed with symptoms that I wasn't able to recognize I was triggered or even symptomatic at all. If there was a way I could somehow know that when my thoughts/actions are all "I HAVE to escape" and frantically/crazily working on and planning my escape,I think I could get a handle on it. But since that's what my mind is consumed with I am not able to even think clearly. There's not a pattern or any leading up to it or symptoms gradually increasing, it's like BOOM, a violent barrage of symptoms. I don't really wanna say what the trauma is or the trigger but it's this specific one I lose all sense of rationality.
 

Friday

Moderator
That happens often, not realizing it until after the fact.
Ooooooh yeah. Far too many times to count. 😖 Totally hate it.

I'm thinking I could get over it much quicker, with much less damage and suffering, if I could just realize it at the time.
Exactly, this.

99% of the time, these days, I realize if I’m triggered -or- if my stress cup is maxing out. (Same end result, different methods of sorting)

Triggered =
  • Recognize what’s happening.
  • Create a pause.
  • Direct/Control my actions (when every instinct/feeling says to do differently; whether it’s to attack, retreat, direct rage outward or inward, succumb to despair, mistrust, whatever I’m feeling doesn’t line up with reality now, but reality then.)
  • Recover physically/mentally/emotionally… faster.
Stress =
  • Stress Cup // Stress Management // Blow off steam
  • SUDS management
  • Emotional Monitoring & Regulation
  • Self Care (Gak. I despise that term. But it’s the best umbrella term I know of.)
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
There's not a pattern or any leading up to it or symptoms gradually increasing, it's like BOOM, a violent barrage of symptoms
Yeah, totally get that. Which is why I think focusing on what being triggered feels like, rather than the reasons for it?
I think there are different states of being triggered. Those in the moment ones. And then those ongoing states that you describe. Which are so hard as they are all consuming. And it is only when we come out of it that it is easier to notice the difference.

When you are in that ongoing state: do you stop doing some things? There might be clues in how the symptoms impact your daily functioning that you could pon point to 'ah, this might mean I am triggered'.
 

JadeB.

MyPTSD Pro
@Movingforward10

I definitely know what feeling triggered is like. But it's not like that, it's not like having extreme anxiety and panic or hypervigilance and wondering to myself hmm, maybe I've been triggered and that's why I'm feeling this way, now I need to take a look in my toolbox and see what has worked in the past.

It's more like BOOM, as I said before. I'm not functioning at all. I'm in survival/escape mode, not able to think in a rational way or even remember the fact that I have PTSD in the first place.

Yes I do stop doing some things, pretty much everything actually, besides trying to plan and carry out my escape. I am packing my things, I am writing out my escape plan, not sleeping, not eating, etc. I'm sure I probably seem like a complete crazy person to outsiders.

Honestly, I just am not capable of thinking to myself that I might be triggered. I totally feel and believe I am in grave danger, my life is at stake and I gotta find a way out. I am living it not just feeling it.

I thought about making a box with notes in it to remind myself that I have been through this before. That I have just been triggered and it will eventually pass. But I highly doubt I would even remember to look in the box when I needed to. But it might be worth trying anyway.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
thought about making a box with notes in it to remind myself that I have been through this before. That I have just been triggered and it will eventually pass. But I highly doubt I would even remember to look in the box when I needed to. But it might be worth trying anyway.
That sounds like a really great idea. Worth a try?
And maybe some other things night help like: a grounding plan. Maybe keeping notes in a place that you know you will look at like in the kitchen or bathroom or beside your bed, to alert you to your box of notes. (so they aren't all in one place?)
Is there also someone who can help you notice you are in this state? Like a T or a friend? Because if someone said to you: "you seem to be in that state again", would you believe them or would that not help?
 

enough

MyPTSD Pro
I totally get everyones opinions on this subject, been there and lived through most all of them. Mood is one thing and I can generally tell you why a mood is good or bad, even why it is bad and how to make it better or why it is good and how to keep it that way. Triggered is another animal. I can tell you I am triggered but sometimes the only way out is to solve an unsolvable, do an undoable, and in reality even solving or doing wouln't be close to the way back. Time, sleep, medication, thats more like what I need, but who has time to do the meds and sleep when there is an unsolvable or an undoable to accomplish?
I thought about making a box with notes in it to remind myself that I have been through this before. That I have just been triggered and it will eventually pass. But I highly doubt I would even remember to look in the box when I needed to. But it might be worth trying anyway.

So many parts of the best therapy I have ever had ties into this idea. If I am going to try to relax (@Friday 's GAK! Self Care) I know I have been there in the past and now I need to get back but I am so far from it I don't have a direction or distance and no chance of an ETA, I have little tricks to help me get myself moving, then orienting and discerning the direction and then finding familiar ground and knowing what has to happen to get there (ETA).
I call them breadcrumbs, as in the tenuous trail of breadcrumbs left in the forest by Hansel and Gretel on their way to the witches house. Maybe that story isn't as well known as it was when I was young and hearing the story, maybe it isn't even told in parts of this earth, sorry if it is meaningless for you but thats the term I use for the little reminders I use to get back on the path.
Sensory is a strong reminder, certain Music, an aroma, a picture on my phone. Little things that I remember experiencing from the point of view of being relaxed and OK, seen from the point of view of triggered and too busy solving to be bothered by such a foolish idea as getting myself to be calm. It is the way back for me, except when it isn't because the birds ate my breadcrumbs and I am too busy to keep looking for stupid crumbs in a world of bird shit.
 

JadeB.

MyPTSD Pro
Thanks @Movingforward10

Sometimes the most simple things can be the most helpful. I hadn't even thought about keeping notes in places like the bathroom or kitchen. That may actually work/help,especially if I go ahead and do that very soon,seeing them all the time when I am not triggered may prepare me and sink in for the times I am too. I'm not sure what those notes would say yet but that's a great idea.

@enough
Your reply made made me laugh. The Hansel and Gretel analogy was great and so relatable.
 
Top