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PTSD, or normal emotional reaction?

Roland

MyPTSD Pro
Do you ever get frustrated and start crying but you can’t tell if it’s a trigger or a normal emotional reaction xD I have this happen a lot and I’m quick to blame PTSD but then I realize there’s no obvious trauma experience-present trigger-reaction sequence. Then after a little digging into my psyche I still don’t come up with anything.

I am an sign language interpreter at an elementary school. I work in first grade for a student that hasn’t been taught manners or anything like that, or language (except for at school). I was trying my best to interpret and apply newfound skills and the student got mad and yelled at me to go away.

Like anyone would get frustrated when they’re trying to help and improve their skills and it’s unappreciated and then also being rude about it. I don’t blame the student, because I understand they have a shitton to learn when it comes to just about everything but especially manners and speaking to people nicely with respect, but even just basic stuff. The student has such a limited understanding in comparison to their peers because they don’t have the same access their peers have.

But anyways, do you guys find that hard to sort out? The “am I have a panic attack, or am I just emotional”.
 
For me there is a huge difference between a panic attack and being emotional. In a panic attack, I can't breathe, my chest hurts, and I have to get away NOW! If I'm emotional there is room for emotions other than panic, like being insulted, feeling sad, mad, etc. That's my reaction.
 
It reminds me of the cup. If your cup is almost full already the reactions are likely to feel worse than they "should". The less my cup is filled with PTSD junk the easier it is for me to sort it out, but most of the time I'm being irrational because somehow inside of my mind, things like getting the right item at the grocery store are life or death.
 
i'll second @DharmaGirl 's sense that there is a huge diff between a panic attack and being emotional. i can't function during a panic attack. they are crippling. i often wish i was incapable of functioning during a trigger event because of the bone-headed stuff i do in that state, but i CAN still function.

as for sorting my rational emotions from my ptsd symptoms, i mindfully stopped trying a long time ago, with much, much support from my therapy network. i spiral into psychotic fissures when i even try. emotions are one of the mysteries science has yet to understand. i find it better to just let the mystery be. the heart goes where it goes.

gentle empathy on the difficulty of your charge. my eldest foster child was in 1st grade when he came to me, freshly traumatized and so lacking in trust and social skills that i wanted to cry constantly. it's hard to get the basics of good manners past such a pile of oughts and naughts. in 4th grade he is still more inhibited than i could wish for, but he's come a long way.
 
For me there is a huge difference between a panic attack and being emotional. In a panic attack, I can't breathe, my chest hurts, and I have to get away NOW! If I'm emotional there is room for emotions other than panic, like being insulted, feeling sad, mad, etc. That's my reaction.
What’s hard for me with that is that anytime I’m crying I feel panicked like I need to leave now because I was raised with the whole “don’t show your emotions” thing, I was constantly told to stop crying/that I was manipulating people by crying (when I was actually having a panic attack) in addition to that, I didn’t learn what a panic attack was until I was 16 years old, and it was self-discovery/research. No one telling me, I realized for myself. Despite growing up with panic attacks and PTSD, I didn’t get diagnosed until this past year. So anyways, it’s super difficult for me to sort out because growing up I wasn’t allowed to show emotions, nor was I taught how to express what I felt, so I didn’t have the words for what I felt for the longest time. I remember when I was like 12, I was crying (no panic attack) and I was personally floored that I was crying but with no sense of panic, but I still didn’t know what that meant. So anyways, it’s like a maze for me. I’m now able to feel emotions and express them but not really verbally, (through art, music, writing, etc) or far after the fact (hours or a day later, sometimes longer).

It reminds me of the cup. If your cup is almost full already the reactions are likely to feel worse than they "should". The less my cup is filled with PTSD junk the easier it is for me to sort it out, but most of the time I'm being irrational because somehow inside of my mind, things like getting the right item at the grocery store are life or death.
Yeah that’s definitely true, it’s odd sometimes though, because I’m eating well, sleeping well, but I’m completely pouring myself into my work and trying to learn everything I can, so I guess that has more to do with it. Can’t keep everything moving so fast all the time.

i'll second @DharmaGirl 's sense that there is a huge diff between a panic attack and being emotional. i can't function during a panic attack. they are crippling. i often wish i was incapable of functioning during a trigger event because of the bone-headed stuff i do in that state, but i CAN still function.

as for sorting my rational emotions from my ptsd symptoms, i mindfully stopped trying a long time ago, with much, much support from my therapy network. i spiral into psychotic fissures when i even try. emotions are one of the mysteries science has yet to understand. i find it better to just let the mystery be. the heart goes where it goes.

gentle empathy on the difficulty of your charge. my eldest foster child was in 1st grade when he came to me, freshly traumatized and so lacking in trust and social skills that i wanted to cry constantly. it's hard to get the basics of good manners past such a pile of oughts and naughts. in 4th grade he is still more inhibited than i could wish for, but he's come a long way.
Yeah definitely, it’s so rewarding and amazing to work this job, but it’s definitely a lot of pouring out. It’s mentally, emotionally, and even physically taxing. But I’m short term, my contract ends March 31. So I’ll probably consider taking a part time position in the fall so I lessen my chance of burnout.
 
Interpreting is a rough one. I think it's within the realm of normalcy to have had an emotional reaction to this event. It also sounds like that then progressed to panic (for the reasons you outlined - emotions are overwhelming to you).
 
Interpreting is a rough one. I think it's within the realm of normalcy to have had an emotional reaction to this event. It also sounds like that then progressed to panic (for the reasons you outlined - emotions are overwhelming to you).
Thank you for that summary, that's actually really helpful
 
I always find that PTSD tends to skew everything toward fear/anxiety or anger. Because my input is filtered through the part of my brain that only understands survival and throws away things that ae not about survival in that moment.

Step back ask Why do I feel like this? Is it real or manufactured by my PTSD brain? Usually - I find it changes under examination......
 
It reminds me of the cup. If your cup is almost full already the reactions are likely to feel worse than they "should". The less my cup is filled with PTSD junk the easier it is for me to sort it out, but most of the time I'm being irrational because somehow inside of my mind, things like getting the right item at the grocery store are life or death.
Decisions of any kind feel impossible for me too. I block out having to make any and zone into whatever is in front of me. PTSD does that too me and also grief.
 
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