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Seeking strategies for explaining triggers

Discussion in 'Medical' started by SophieB, Apr 28, 2018.

  1. SophieB

    SophieB New Member

    I haven’t posted before, but just knowing this group is here is so helpful to me. I’ve felt really alone with my medical trauma my entire life. It started when I was 6 and just got worse with every surgery, procedure, etc.

    My boyfriend recently turned 50 and retired from the Army, two things that caused him to think he needed to replace the Army structure or parental figure with the medical system to “take care of him,” as he put it. He was blunt about that. He’s done everything imaginable this year and it’s been probably 8 months of doctors appointments, screening procedures, etc. I thought there would be an end to it, but that doesn’t seem to be happening. He says there is nothing wrong with him. Given his physical condition and lifestyle, I’m inclined to believe that, but this is a lifestyle change akin to a religious conversion at this point. Every time he says he has an appointment I lose three days trying to get myself back together after that sick, horrible feeling.

    I’ve explained my PTSD twice to him and told him that I needed him to keep appointments to himself unless something is really wrong, or unless he’s inordinately worried about something. Then I’ll show up for I’m in every way imaginable. What he heard was to tell me about appointments as before, but try to reassure me that nothing is wrong by giving me greater detail. That’s making it worse instead of better because it’s more information/detail on top of knowing about the appointment. He doesn’t understand PTSD at all and he’s not hurting me deliberately. Once he thought that’s what I was asking, he did his best to comply...just with the wrong thing!

    I’m seeking any strategies for explaining medical trauma to someone who can’t seem to get enough of the medical system, trusts it almost in a dangerous way, and how to explain PTSD generally so that they can try and accommodate my triggers. I don’t want to leave the relationship at all. I love him. But I can’t live like this indefinitely. He is becoming the trigger himself.
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  3. DharmaGirl

    DharmaGirl Crazy Chicken Lady Premium Member Sponsor $100+

    What can you do to control the trigger? Do you have any self-care options you can use? Are you seeing a therapist? Having a trigger shows you where you need to put the work. I know you feel as if you are not able to control the trigger at all, but there are many things to do to change how we react to triggers. Are you seeing a therapist?
    Sietz likes this.
  4. SophieB

    SophieB New Member

    I am seeing a therapist and the self-care comes in when he drops another appointment bomb on me. Then I have to employ those strategies, some of which includes anxiety medications, to get back on track. The problem is less that aspect of it and more that I need some accommodation in the relationship or I can’t keep having the relationship. I am starting to resent him for it. At this pace, it will take me years to get to the point where I’m ok with this trigger, if ever, and he will have been doing this almost on a monthly basis. I just need to figure out how to ask him for accommodation, i.e., keeping it to himself unless absolutely necessary, so that I can get my feet back under me and even begin to manage the trigger differently. My other option is to break up with him to make what feels like a constant barrage stop.
  5. Sideways

    Sideways I'm a VIP Premium Member

    So my abuse was ritualistic stuff by a priest all wrapped up in this baloney about Gods will. Your medical appointment conversations? For me, that people talking to me about church.

    And sometimes? I just tune out, change the subject or walk away. Its too much. I can’t deal with it. And learning to have compassion for myself when I need to manage it that way? Is an important part of my healing. Sometimes that’s just how we have to handle it, especially if we’re already distressed from something else.

    Problem is, I have a couple of friends for whom their faith, and their involvement in their church’s activities, is a huge part of their life. It’s really important to them. Much like your SO’s health is to him.

    Eventually, I’d like to get to a place where people talking about religious stuff is no longer a trigger. That’s my goal, and it takes work. I don’t want to carry that trigger around with me forever and having it interfere with relationships that are important to me. And with work? We can overcome any trigger.

    The way the conversations play out, for me, has become crucial to me building up my ability to tolerate them, and to get through those conversations without becoming too distressed. I work with my T, and I use a whole lotta radical acceptance and mindfulness of my emotional state while those conversations happen, and guage when I need time out.

    The second thing I do is, as much as I can, manage the way those conversations occur. I open up the topic for discussion at times when I’m feeling able to manage it for a while. Because the people involved are good friends, they understand when I tell them to “please stop talking about that part”. And I change the subject or excuse myself when I think I’ve handled enough for now.

    Don’t let this trigger come between you and someone you love. Because triggers are absolutely something that we can heal from, and eventually completely overcome, with a bit of work, time, and patience.

    If you can? Maybe speak to your T about how to manage this trigger, then receuit your SO as a partner in your healing. That might look something like using boundaries and safe words. You and your SO can overcome this. You absolutely can. Don’t let your abuser take this relationship from you.
    DharmaGirl likes this.
  6. EveHarrington

    EveHarrington _______ in progress. Premium Member

    I don’t think he needs to understand medical trauma.

    He needs to listen to what you say and abide by that. He’s not listening. He’s not abiding by your wishes.

    Just say “I don’t want to hear about any medical appointments at all. No dates, no times, don’t tell me where you are going, etc”.

    If he can’t do this, remove yourself from the situation. Go to a hotel for three days. This will give him the message that it’s important. Because really, you can’t explain ptsd and how devastating it is to someone who doesn’t have it.

    Here’s my boundary. No medical talk. If you violate this boundary I’m going on vacation for three days without you.

    He’ll understand FAST that it’s important to you.
    Nessa7 likes this.
  7. SophieB

    SophieB New Member

    So we had the talk. He brought it up because he wanted to make sure I knew he was ok, that nothing was wrong and that he wasn’t doing any of this, meaning going to 300 doctors appointments, because he was sick. His explanations made very little sense to someone like me, but that’s ok. I don’t have to normalize what he’s doing, and I pretty much refuse to do so. The fact that he wanted me to be ok is what counts. I don’t think he’ll ever understand PTSD, like you said, but he thought it was that my mother died when I was 16 and nobody was really honest with me or my sisters about what was happeningn so maybe I was freaked out that he was lying to me too. That’s definitely 30% of it but far from the whole issue. He thought if he just laid it all out there, I’d be fine. Incredibly sweet and part of why I love him, but not the solution at all.

    I told him the thing with my mom was really the icing and the cherry on the crapcake and laid it out in terms of what happened to me before that, which anyone would recognize as almost ritualized abuse by the time I was 8. He was surprised ot say the least. The thing is, I don’t think he can get it for real becuase he views the medical system as a good thing generally and I refuse to normalize it as it currently exists. In my work today alone I encountered an issue around an attending physician at a high profile emergency room who indicated that patient consent was irrelevant...so umm...yeah. We didn’t really get into that, but he did totally get that he needed to ot tell me about this stuff unless something is wrong, and that if something is wrong I will be there 150%. He was able to draw some analogies to his own life that made sense in terms of what traumatized him, and he listened to a couple of examples from my childhood to illustrate the point that this is not some random phobia I have or just a fear of losing him, though that’s definitely a big part of it too. So, we’ll see what happens going forward. Overall, I’m hopeful my relationship can be a safe place again.
    Nessa7, Sideways and LuckiLee like this.
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