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Over reacting vs normalizing

KayW

Confident
I experienced trauma in childhood, then a repeating pattern of trauma through adolescence and into my early thirties. Part of that pattern was due to a habit of minimizing, denial and excusing abuse by creating reasonable explanations for it and normalizing it in my mind.

I clearly had complex issues but didn't develop PTSD symptoms until after a trauma in 2006. Those symptoms included the over-reaction that comes with flashbacks and re-experiencing caused by triggers from non-traumatic situations.

15 years on and triggers are down to a few times a year and I'm pretty good at recognizing the feeling and talking myself round.

But recently, I experienced an unwanted advance from a workman who had come into my home to quote for work. I felt triggered by that and told myself I was over reacting because of past trauma. I believed it was all my mind and the next day I accepted the quote and booked the work.

Then I spoke to my friend and my therapist and both of them felt it was not okay for the workman to act this way and my therapist went on to say that it seemed like to this person had taken advantage of the situations.

So now I'm so busy blaming all my fears on myself because of PTSD that I'm back to normalizing behaviors from others that aren't an acceptable normal.

It's a really difficult balance and I could do with some tips from anyone that deals with that balancing act. Or just anyone else who struggles with that balance of perception.
 
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Not being able to trust my own judgment is the thing that pisses me off the most about PTSD.

It’s absolutely re-trainable, by consciously exercising my judgment as much as possible, and checking in with others I trust to give me the unvarnished truth (like you just did); but it’s an exhausting process to have to do it all “manually” rather than simply being able to rely on my instincts.
 
in my own therapy sessions, i treat the over-reacting as a symptom of hypervigilance and believe that hypervigilance carries an exclusively physical component which needs to be addressed before i can address the psychic end of the phenom. hypervigilance triggers a hormonal influx of some of the most potent drugs in natures pharmacopeia. that influx is self-replenishing and will continue to send fresh influxes until i purge those hormones and arrest the escalation. while the physical end of this cycle is in play, i have the intelligence of a meth head with never ending supply of their drug of choice. my dealer quite literally lives in my head. yes, i consider myself a recovering adrenaline junkie. one rush is too many. a million are not enough.
It's a really difficult balance
amen, i say onto the, amen. the only thing harder than finding a balance is keeping a balance.
 
@KayW I do the same and I have had the same experience with some contractors (one ended up as a quite serious situation and he got a Federal prison term, eventually). I think people think it's about assertiveness; maybe, but I'd say the doubt and self-guessing, and context sometimes (worry about other things, fear, being dependent on help or income etc), is the reason. And not having a voice that's heard, minimizing like no tomorrow, probably lack of agency and worth (I mean why speak up if nothing changes?). I was thinking of how sometimes I feel like I'm not speaking English as a 1st language. And the gender difference: I asked a friend what he did if/ when he was faced with a particular situation in the workplace, and he made a short statement, said he would say (xyz) + an F bomb. And said being all men working together it was rare and that was all that was needed the rare time it happened. Ironically though he himself doesn't always respect boundaries, he could end up charged with the wrong person. What women expect as (un)'acceptable' but inevitable (and common) is often different than men IMHO.

But yes, man or woman I think minimizing might take many forms but it certainly contributes. Short of one's death (and therefore consequences) most things end up in the suck-it-up category in my mind if they are occurring to me, even though at some level some are devastating. It's a fine line between comparing everything to the worst so far (relative) and acknowledging other situations are painful or traumatizing as well.

Interesting @arfie. I've often wondered why many of us start to break down by our 30's or 40's, have no idea how you get rid of adrenaline from hypervigilance now, but as I aged my body gave out (genetic and injuries). When I was young I was very physically active and did somewhat-extreme sports even though I wasn't really a 'sports' person (not competitive at all unless an anchor on a relay, or sort-of for some team sports, I mean more so just for fun-and probably coping). and I went out and danced all night (I really mean all night). I'm still required to be very physically active but it's not the same thing, I'm thankful I can find a way to do what I need to but now it's painful, not fun. (except dancing lol).

Good luck @KayW . I'm glad you had others you could bounce it off of and had the courage to ask.
 
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I sure have experienced this. I think part of what has helped me get better over time, is reality checking with other people. And finding people who had good judgement and . I could trust. Talking about both sides of the story and why I might perceive things one way or the other.
 
have no idea how you get rid of adrenaline
i use detox diets and vigorous workouts. i borrow quite a few tools and theories for addicts in the detox phases of their recovery. adrenaline is only one of the mind/body altering drugs injected by our lymphatic systems to make it possible for mothers to rescue babies from burning cars, etc. mother nature is a gifted pharmacist, after all. the drugs are every bit as real and far more potent than any of the illegal drugs on the DEA hit list.

When I was young I was very physically active and did somewhat-extreme sports
ditto here, but i wasn't quite house-broken enough for anything you could call a sport. i was more prone to climbing skyscrapers and such. but those extreme sports are a common way for an adrenaline junkie to get their fix. at 69, i finally have the energy of a normal teenager, so my physical urges are much easier to control, but? ? ? once a junkie, always a junkie. "let go of that bull and let him have his way with the cows, grandma. we need the calves! ! !"

dancing is one of favorite vigorous workouts for the purging. for me, dancing also serves me as an emotion channeling tool. i love dancing. i can't remember the last time i was on a dance floor, but i still dance every day. our contrary old bull makes an excellent dance partner when we aren't arguing over how to treat a heifer.
 
@arfie @Tinyflame I've been thinking about the discussion on hypervigilance and adrenaline junkie here because I was finding it quite difficult to relate. During trauma (perpetrator still in the room) I shut down, freeze, dissociate.

Even when it's just a trigger (a false alarm) and not actually traumatic, it can be hours afterwards that the hyper responses kick in. So I'm curious if maybe normalizing is because I just don't see danger or if it's a mild dissociative reaction.

reality checking with other people. And finding people who had good judgement and . I could trust.
Yes and I need to do more of this. Trust is an issue- I think it is only my therapist that I really trust.
 
I think that's not unusual at all @KayW . It's my understanding hyperarousal leads to fight, flight, freeze or fawn.

During trauma (perpetrapptor still in the room) I shut down, freeze, dissociate.

Even when it's just a trigger (a false alarm) and not actually traumatic, it can be hours afterwards that the hyper responses
ETA, So do I. I think it's the 2nd guessing myself, thoughts of how if I reacted what the other consequences could be, minimizing. I don't have hyper-aftereffects, except for how I feel/ my thoughts. And I wouldn't call them hyper.

I just meant high energy or a bit dangerous activities probably helped counteract a high baseline of arousal or anxiety or energy. And acted as a distraction.

Best wishes figuring out what helps. 🫂
 
Even when it's just a trigger (a false alarm) and not actually traumatic, it can be hours afterwards that the hyper responses kick in. So I'm curious if maybe normalizing is because I just don't see danger or if it's a mild dissociative reaction.
I'm gonna guess it's more like hours before you notice the hyper response. It was hard stuff to wrap my head around in the beginning, but after a while I learned keeping the PTSD Cup in check was key.

It's whats called the "Window of tolerance" which really means how much does it take for you to get from where you are to dissociation and hyper whatever? Getting that window open helps you manage better and start to learn the price of doing things, and how much you can do on any given day.

Then you can learn to use hyper whatever as a tool when you choose to, instead of having it all turn on automatically. Because there is a price with both - just one way you know to prepare for a day of reduced tolerance tomorrow, and the other you go round in circles never getting a break because reduced functionality today feeds reduced function tomorrow.....
 
Agree with @Freddyt . Of course you can't always choose when a contractor will come, but for things where there is some choice it's hard to admit limitations but it's knowing yourself too. I used to try very hard, then I hoped for some help to accomplish stuff, then I realized I just have to rely on myself and if I don't think I can I won't try now. Sometimes you can think of accommodations , or try to tie it to a higher purpose and focus on that which I think is grounding (for me). But the workman was a jerk. You were probably thinking about the work you needed.
 
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