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The Exaggerated Startle Response

Discussion in 'General' started by Miander, Sep 26, 2006.

  1. Miander

    Miander Active Member

    Hey everyone, I've been doing ok with most of my symptoms without meds for years now - except for the esr and anxiety. I absoloutely hate it. It doesn't matter if it is a noise (loud or foriegn), something unexpected or sudden...My body is always sent into overdrive; body jerks violently, heart immeadiately races, anxiety level goes through the roof (it's always high anyway), then come the shakes and near tears. My husband always looks at me like I'm crazy whenever it happens, I think that's where the tears come from. I wish he understood. Anyway, does anyone have good advice on how to help with this issue, please?
    safenow and Rain like this.
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  3. cdunny

    cdunny Active Member

    this may seem like a silly idea. But, maybe if you kind of just accept it as just the way you are and laugh it off as if its just a quirk, then you wont feel so embarrassed about it, thus no tears to follow. I have always been jumpy about certain things. Like I cant stand to hear someone do the dishes cause when I was a kid my mom use to slam dishes around when she was mad. My friends think its funny. I will jump 2 feet in the air and duck every time I hear pot clang. I also cant stand to hear the sound of a belt. Of course the sound of a belt makes me angry more than anything. So I dont know. Do what works for you. Maybe just trying to reasociate certain things will help you. For instance, for some reason, certain comercials will remind me of my trauma. What I did is I would concentrate on something else when those comercials would come on. Pretty soon I started associating them differently. Thus, no more comercial freak outs.
    Rain likes this.
  4. cookie

    cookie I'm a VIP

    miander, that is one of the worst things for me, too. it seems to be something i have to put up with. i have been sooo much calmer this week, it's wonderful. but, still the startle thing. it embarrases me too, people do notice, and i would, too. i am learning how to calm myself rather quickly, though. now i at least don't have to be shakey the rest of the day because someones phone rang. just little things like the compressor on the fridge popping sends me, if it's quiet. if there is a lot of background noise(like lunchtime in the cafeteria at school,lol) then it takes something louder to actually bother me, but the din of that also makes me anxious. pacing when i have recess duty helps a little, too. breathing is the best, fastest way to drop your bp and reduce the stress level for me.
    Rain and AngelkeeperJ/AKJ like this.
  5. annafennutchi

    annafennutchi Active Member

    I know what you're talking about, my problem is usually when people sneak up on me. my "attacker" always snuck up on me, so that scares the hell out of me. I have just accepted it, like cdunny said, as one of my quirks. Most of the people around me know they can't sneak up on me, some of them still do, (I work with a couple of pranksters). Closing my eyes and breathing slowly and controlled really helps.
    I hate when I startle, I jump, scream and cuss. It's just something I live with and have learned to accept.
    Good luck.
    Rain likes this.
  6. piglet

    piglet Well-Known Member

    My big startle thing is a door opening suddenly. Probably no need to explain why!
    Rain likes this.
  7. Kells

    Kells Active Member

    Cdunny, that's exactly how I handle mine... We just laugh it off, but then again, me and my husband both have PTSD, so we scare the crap out of each other constantly and laugh it off cause we understand why we're jumpy like we are. Even then, once in awhile, I get a really BAD scare and the tears jump out uncontrollably even though it's obvious immediately thereafter I had nothing to fear. Just depends, but usually, it's easy to laugh off.
    Rain likes this.
  8. Nam

    Nam I'm a VIP

    Miander, I had exaggerated startle response just like everyone here has described. Mine was loud noises of any kind. The part I hated most was the shaking. Everything would shake, even my voice. Deep breathing helps, and so does grounding techniques, but all in all, I think it just went away on it's own. I think I finally convinced my body that I was no longer afraid. That I was safe and protected.

    I think another factor that makes this symptom worse is no or little sleep. It doesn't matter if you're drugged or not, but if you don't get quailty rest, the body "jumps" to conclusions much too quickly. When tired the body would rather error on the overexaggerated side than to not react at all, because to the body, it would seem like instant death.

    I disagree with laughing it off. If you feel like crap, don't laugh it off. It's a big deal. There are some documented medical articles about how the body physically reacts to trauma and subsequent triggers there after. You cannot help it, miander. Print these articles out and have him read them, so he can react accordingly. My husband understood this and wrapped his arms around me and kept talking to me in a soft voice. I don't remember what he said, I don't think it mattered. It only mattered that I heard his voice: the voice of love, comfort, and understanding.
    Just hold on. Talk to yourself outloud. Believe that you are safe. It does get better. You just have to retrain your body. It takes time.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2015
    safenow and olaja like this.
  9. Miander

    Miander Active Member

    Count down

    Hey everyone, thanks for sharing, it always makes things a little easier for me when I see other people with the same messed up crap as me, no offense! :kiss: I especially appriciate the reply from Nam, because I think you understood how harmful it is to me how my husband reacts when I have any kind of symptom (not just the startle thing). It is like he is an amplifier, he makes me feel bad about myself and my symptoms, really not helpful at all! It is such a struggle to stay sober sometimes. I think I will try the count down that Anthony listed in the link from Nam, and I know what you said about the sleep deprivation effecting this symptom is right! I don't get a lot of sleep because my 6 month old baby is still waking up twice a night and I usually can't fall asleep until late on top of that. Anyway, thanks a lot guys!
    Rain likes this.
  10. Kells

    Kells Active Member

    I'm sorry if it seemed I was suggesting to always laugh it off. As I stated in my post, there are times that I get a bad scare...

    I guarantee I'm not laughing then.

    At some point I got used to it, to some degree. And when I did, they aren't always a terrible fright. It's during those times that I laugh it off instead of upsetting myself.
    Rain likes this.
  11. strawberryburns

    strawberryburns Member

    I have been dealing with this from early childhood on and it is very embarrassing at times. Friends sometimes will turn off the ringer to their phones when I come over, their trying to be nice but I would rather not have to have special things done for me like that.

    My step father would do everything he could to scare the hell out of me on a regular basis and was known to ambush me from around corners. He is into scaring children and hazing type behavior. One ambush was so he could throw me in a headlock and wrap my head with duct tape. While I screamed and kicked he laughed loud and hard. I think I could list a whole lot of reasons for my ERS really. When my personal space is breeched suddenly or I hear a sudden noise like a doorbell or a phone I am known to scream, jump, shake, and depending on the severity of the scare I have gone into panic attacks. The fact that I reacted so severely and scream like I do at times was a source of amusement for others. I would be targeted for it. Some guys in high school even made a Freddie Krueger glove in shop class specifically with scaring me in mind. We were to be watching horror movies in art class during Halloween time. They knew we would be watching Nightmare on Elm Street and I would be especially fun to scare then! Our teacher left after putting on the movie like always and one of the guys snuck up behind me and did a Freddie voice and chinked together the blades of the gloves just inches from my face. I went into such a severe reaction that someone ran to find the teacher, it turned into a big scene. It can be very embarrassing and no matter how you try to laugh it off it doesn't stop it from happening the next time and going through the cycle again.
    shoulderblades, safenow and Rain like this.
  12. ca272

    ca272 New Member

    hi everyone,
    from when I was little, theseexaggerated startle response-type things would happen to me. I would even jump inwardly at a perceived sound, maybe one that wasn't really there. I am blind and had a habit when I was younger of poking my eye, more touching than really pressing on it, and it was always the eye I couldn't see out of. It is a really common thing for blind people to do, I later found out. My mom, my abuser, used to punish me for doing it. I remember one really awful time I had fallen asleep with my finger pressed against my eye and she came in with a bucket of cold water and through it over me. needless to say, that scared the hell out of me. I am glad to see I'm not alone. Now that I live with my dad, in the same house I was abused in, unfortunately, he sometimes does things and gets angry when I get startled. I don't think no matter how many times I explain, how many documented articles I send him, he just will not get it and I don't know why. I'm really glad to see I'm not alone. Usually I try to have a stone, something solid with me to hold onto when these happen to bring me down from the hight of being scared. I find most times it helps, but there are those times that I don't have anything and I jump, yell and then get really angry at myself when I find out there's nothing to be afraid of. I feel like a stupid imbecile when that happens, and I bet everyone looks at me weirdly.
    well, at least I know I'm not alone now. thank you guys. for being out here, willing both to recover and to speak of the coping strategies you each use. like everything else in the world, not all things work for all people. maybe laughing works for someone and not for the next writer. if it works, let it.
    shoulderblades, Anna and Rain like this.
  13. Oberons Wife

    Oberons Wife Active Member

    I am so relieved to read this thread. If only I could get rid of this symptom. It really is embarrassing. My boy is turning into a young man, and just now he's loud, clumsy and yep, selfish. I love him dearly but he does things like bang his fist on the roof of the car, when I'm waiting to pick him up. He thinks it's funny. He's studying singing and has a loud deep voice. I jump when he suddenly belts out a line from nowhere. And I'm terrified of the phone. If it makes me jump I'm in no fit state to pick it up. I've burst into tears in the supermarket and suchlike. It's not easy. But knowing I'm not the only one does make a difference. So thankyou to you all.
    shoulderblades, Anna and Rain like this.
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