Other Wearing a face covering is triggering memories of suffocation and I'm now scared to go to the shops.

coxysmelons93

Not Active
^This stuff you need to work on yourself. Life/ptsd can get very painful but expecting an online community and particularly when you are completely new, to jump to attention and turn that thought process around, or be responsible for answering you more promptly than we did, is a step too far. Nobody here can take on that amount of responsibility but it'd be good if you did and getting some help would be a smart move.


I have already clarified this further up and apologised if I upset anyone.

I was responding to someone else's comment which was deleted, it had absolutely nothing to do with the response time- I had no expectations regarding this and obviously recognise the different time zones and what other users are obviously going through. In fact, I had not originally expected anyone to reply for the first day or two, if I am honest. I was pleasantly surprised and very grateful when I did receive the support I have received so far.

It is indeed very difficult to cope with, as I have no doubt your own PTSD is, but there is no need to verbally attack me (or anyone) for struggling with a face covering (or with any trigger) as the first (deleted) commenter did. Just as it is my responsibility to work on myself (which I have spent 7 years doing and have made a lot of progress until I encountered this trigger last week) it is also other people's responsibility to manage their own issues and not project them onto other people, telling them how they can and cannot feel, think or live their lives.

For clarity here is the 'help' I have already undertaken so far: Trauma-focused counselling, CBT, DBT, group therapy, EMDR (very effective for me personally), specialised counselling for victims of sexual violence on 2 occasions, mindfulness (which I did not personally benefit from- everyone is different), Hypnotherapy (also didn't benefit) and a list of medications so long I will not bore you with it. I really do not appreciate being told that I have not taken any responsibility to get help because I have and I kept trying until I found something that worked for me (EMDR, peer support (face to face in the past), Diazepam and helplines), which actually took 5 years of trial and error, so to speak.

It was extremely difficult for me to post this thread as these are experiences I have not shared with even many close friends or family and I was in a fragile state when I finally had the courage to post it, therefore I overreacted but please do not make assumptions about me based on a reply to comment that was deleted. Everyone makes mistakes and sometimes overreacts, especially when they have already been triggered and are feeling extremely low and I would never judge anyone else for doing the same. I have since tried to delete my comment (as without the original comment it was replying to it is no longer relevant in any way) but as I made this account on Saturday, I am still figuring out how to do these things.

I am not trying to be rude here and believe me the last thing I would ever wish to do is upset anybody. I hope my initial mistake of reacting to the deleted comment can be forgotten (just as I would do for anyone else) and we can all move on.



I find the visor OK and intend on using it. You are correct about the virus being transmittable through other orifices than the mouth, I have read about this too and agree it is a good idea. Unfortunately, I couldn't cope with scarves myself but I am glad it was helpful for you.

I had thought of Exposure Therapy (in fact I have had this in the past for my needle phobia and it was remarkably effective) but, understandably due to current events, the waiting lists for any kind of support are lengthy. I have been referred to staff support at work and have an appointment on the 27th so I hope that will be of help. In the mean time, I needed some practical solutions (i.e. visor, medical exemption, online shopping etc.) and also an outlet for how I am feeling. I did not feel able to discuss these triggers with those around me, which is why I came here as I thought there would be people with similar experiences who would understand (and there is) and maybe I could support them too.

Thank you for your time and all the best :)
 
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coxysmelons93

Not Active
One of my traumas that is of significance to me when I read this topic comes to mind. It was likely responsible for the onset of my condition. However many other Trumatic things happen to me in my life including guns being pointed at my head and such.

The incident in mind was my first panic attack which was colossal and I had never experienced one before or knew what one was. I still to this day do not know how or why I did not just pass out like a normal person would have but I didn’t. My body started turning blue and I was drooling. Most of my body started tingling and I could feel every single tiny little air current blowing a crossed my hair follicles. Of course not knowing what was going on, I believed it to be my heart or something and I was certain I was going to die. I even started hallucinating and “saw” “death”. Likely a physical manifestation of the terror and dread I was feeling. I woke up hours later in the hospital and was still feeling some of the symptoms. It went on for far too long and I truly have not been the same since. That was 11 years ago.

I have since had to master my own breathing basically learning to not obsess over the process. Every time I felt anxiety it almost always meant I was going to be in a panic attack because of the vicious cycle of hyperventilation. I would wind up being on and off of diazepam which was the only thing that seem to work for the crushing chest pressure I would feel. It would always manifest and I was always taken back to the event.

Strangely, I do acknowledge the difficulty in breathing wearing a mask, however it never reaches panic level proportions. I do believe anxiety is up just a tad though. I am generally not comfortable anyway walking around so many people and so I try and get in and get out.


That sounds so scary, I'm so sorry to hear about that.

I also really benefit from Diazepam, it can be brilliant for panic attacks.

I'm really glad to hear that you can manage the masks though and can relate to feeling more anxious in crowded places and wanting to escape as I used to experience this a few years ago but it has got a lot better since I had the EMDR therapy.

I usually find the 'in through the nose, out through the mouth' breathing helpful but find I can't do that effectively with my face covered. Are there any particular breathing techniques you find helpful when you feel an attack coming on (if you don't mind me asking)?

:)
 

Gamereign555

MyPTSD Pro
In through the nose and out through the mouth yes and also the controlled breathing technique with the tongue on the upper roof of the mouth with pursed lips. I do that when I am really in the throes of things. However, I only ever found it as maintenance breathing and I don’t use it anymore because it only keeps me at a certain level of anxiety rather than quell the panic attack. It used to be useful to me but I got away from it as my anxiety and panic attack frequency lessened. And now if I have a panic attack, I tend to breathe in through my nose and mouth simultaneously., not too deep. For some reason, that particular mix of air is more appropriate for me. I usually try to engage myself in conversation even if it’s with a stranger while I’m doing it and it goes away. At least the worst of it anyway. I use this technique at symphony during warm up which if you have ever listened to, you might find the sound to be very jarring and triggering.
 

rosey

MyPTSD Pro
Hi everyone,

I'm new here and I live in the UK.

I was falsely imprisoned and raped in 2013 during which I was strangled, briefly chocked on my own vomit due to having been drugged and at one point he pinned me against a wall with his hand pressed over my mouth and nose trying to stop me from shouting for help (I couldn't breathe and he just kept pressing harder and harder).

Since then I have had various therapies and medications and have worked really hard to get to the point I am at now. Since I had EMDR in 2018 I have found my symptoms are almost absent with the exception of occasional significant triggers and during the anniversary each year (8-10th February). I have actually been generally happy recently.

That all changed earlier this week when it was announced that 'face coverings' will be made 'mandatory' in all shops in England on 24th July and those not complying will be fined. As I sometimes wear a mask at work (only when stood very close to people) I initially managed my anxiety about this OK but the more people started talking about it and how everyone who struggles with it is 'selfish' and basically saying those who experience breathlessness with them are lying or over dramatic, I have found my symptoms coming back.

It is difficult enough wearing one for short periods at work but I have coped by regularly removing it and generally keeping enough distance that it is not needed. At my work it is not strict and I can remove it whenever I need to (I never wear it when exerting myself e.g. climbing stairs and always remove it when more than 2 meters away from others e.g. in an empty office or if I need to drink as I need to stay hydrated due to kidney problems) and all my colleagues are equally reasonable about it (in fact some barely wear one at all). However, I've started to worry that the general public will not be reasonable and if I am in a shop and feel short of breath and panicky I will not be able to remove it or 'escape' the situation due to the social distancing rules and one way systems. I'm not flat out refusing to wear one, I just need to have control over it and be able to remove it if I start to panic or feel like I'm going to have a flashback.

I have spent the whole week having tactile flashbacks of pain in my neck, nightmares and constant intrusive memories of him pressing his hand over my face. The intrusive thoughts are so bad I can't concentrate on anything and had to go home sick from work. I've found myself getting angry easily and having mood swings. I have spent the best part of 3 days crying and unmotivated to do anything (not even run which I normally find helpful).

I did manage to go to the supermarket earlier this week and I just felt sheer panic the whole time, every little sound around me seemed extremely loud and I couldn't think straight about anything except getting out as soon as possible and that was just with a loose silk scarf on my face.

I've asked my Doctor about a medical exemption and he told me everyone just needs to 'self-certify' which I don't feel comfortable doing as I fear it puts me at risk of abuse from people who see me without a face covering and I really, really do not want to have to explain my past to everyone in public every time I need to buy food.

I've looked at online delivery and all slots are booked for the next month so I will have to go to shops but I am absolutely terrified- of feeling short of breath and not being able to escape and of being abused by interfering people if I remove my covering to catch my breath and calm down.

No one has been understanding at all except the Rape Crisis and Samaritans helplines. I feel really alone in this and everywhere I try to turn for help or advice I'm just deemed as selfish or not taken seriously. It's not at all helpful to know it doesn't change your blood oxygen as that doesn't stop it from reminding me of my trauma at all, it still feels very real to me.

I really don't know what to do. I have ordered a visor as an option to try and I hope this can be a substitute if I can't have a medical exemption card. My biggest fear is of this rule being extended to everywhere in the future, which will essentially render me a prisoner in my own flat.

I just need to talk to someone who actually understands and who might be able to give me some advice.

Thank you so much.

Hi,

I have the exact same issue and live here in the UK.

You can get the exception card for 55p and is self-referred. However, my understanding is that shops can still refuse you entry even with a card. The government guidance does cover if the wearing of a mask causes enhanced anxiety or distress. While this is good I am for one am somewhat nervous about not wearing on and getting the nasty looks, comments etc.

My reaction to masks sounds similar to yours, it has set off My PTSD symptoms big time to the point where I just didn't want to be out. However, having two teenagers I didn't want them to be affected by my anxiety so have tried it a few times. I have found putting a nice scent on it, essential oil or perfume actually helps a little, it helps ground me a little. I have to pull it down every now and then to give myself a few minutes space, I also wear it pretty loose, the tighter it fits (which is preferred) the more likely I am to go into full-on panic attack. Other than that I constantly talk to myself saying, its ok, it a face mask, its not his hand, I am in a supermarket, I am not back in that horror place, I am safe.

It is so difficult and you are not alone in this.
 

Gamereign555

MyPTSD Pro
I hope I am not double posting because I hate that but I wanted to add that the best mask I have ever worn as far as comfort goes was the one that is sewn from the top to the bottom. I think the one I bought was black and it has like a pleat or it’s peaked all the way down. This accommodates my nose well which isn’t huge or anything but I wouldn’t call it small. A lot of masks I have worn that aren’t clinic styles anyway I seem to unnecessarily smash my nose just enough to disrupt my breathing. Some of them were absolutely horrible such as the spandex ones that come in the three pack.

I know a sweet old gal who made a bunch of masks and gave one to me that’s fun to wear and it kind of has a light unoffending scent. It’s not exactly the ultimate protection but I suppose it depends on what exactly is available to you.

If you are wearing one of the clinic masks, then I would say that those in N95 or R95 ones are kind of uncomfortable to breathe through. Love how much room they have and aren’t too uncomfortable to wear as far as fit. But they’re kind of the standard however unavailable they are. I happen to have some R97 masks but its rated for oil and complete overkill. Very difficult to breathe through.
 

coxysmelons93

Not Active
Hi,

I have the exact same issue and live here in the UK.

You can get the exception card for 55p and is self-referred. However, my understanding is that shops can still refuse you entry even with a card. The government guidance does cover if the wearing of a mask causes enhanced anxiety or distress. While this is good I am for one am somewhat nervous about not wearing on and getting the nasty looks, comments etc.

My reaction to masks sounds similar to yours, it has set off My PTSD symptoms big time to the point where I just didn't want to be out. However, having two teenagers I didn't want them to be affected by my anxiety so have tried it a few times. I have found putting a nice scent on it, essential oil or perfume actually helps a little, it helps ground me a little. I have to pull it down every now and then to give myself a few minutes space, I also wear it pretty loose, the tighter it fits (which is preferred) the more likely I am to go into full-on panic attack. Other than that I constantly talk to myself saying, its ok, it a face mask, its not his hand, I am in a supermarket, I am not back in that horror place, I am safe.

It is so difficult and you are not alone in this.


Sorry to hear and I totally understand the fear of being judged for not wearing one.

Can I ask where you got the exemption card please? I might use one in addition to the visor just in case.

I do try to tell myself it's just a scarf or mask etc. but I find myself talking out loud and then worrying about people's reaction to that also :/

I thought about essential oils but I find them very strong and can irritate my nose but maybe I'm just using too much or not diluting enough haha.

Glad to hear you've found the oils and grounding somewhat helpful. :)
 
I wasn't clear. This is an online community with all sorts of ideas, perspectives and fairly robust opinions a lot of the time. :rolleyes:

Your response was really serious and that's what I'm suggesting you take another look at. If you think you were being attacked your response was clearly self-destructive. You started to pile onto yourself rather than take a step back and do some critical analysis. If this is a habit, letting others temper your mood, going forward will be perilous.

Rejecting what was written is one thing and you're well within your right to do so. But dismantling yourself and your own personality, saying you're giving up and have lost hope - not good. For you. If an anonymous online community poster who doesn't know you from Joe can do this then tread carefully.

I also acknowledge that you were probably really wound up with anxiety and stress about the mask stuff and not being able to express yourself to someone safe in your real life. I'm not attacking you btw. Just observing how down on yourself you are and how negative you are about the challenges you've already over-come re masks.

I did manage to go to the supermarket earlier this week and I just felt sheer panic the whole time, every little sound around me seemed extremely loud and I couldn't think straight about anything except getting out as soon as possible and that was just with a loose silk scarf on my face.

^So lets take the good from what you did in this instance ^?

You put a silk scarf around over your face and despite your fear and reservations. You tolerated all of the discomfort and kept it together to achieve a task. You noticed the acute symptoms of anxiety but kept your mind on the task.

^^This is an opportunity for growth - can you see this? As uncomfortable and panicked as you felt at the time, you still got the job done. So that's a good start. Don't simply focus on all of the negative stuff that comes crowding in - you did something and endured something that was difficult. That's great imo. And you could do it again perhaps? Worth thinking about isn't it? Worth giving it a go again because going to the supermarket is a grind for most people with ptsd for many and varied reasons. :cautious: It's also a great place to pick up bloody covid too now. :wtf: So a compelling reason to take it on and do it again? I think so.

I initially managed my anxiety about this OK but the more people started talking about it and how everyone who struggles with it is 'selfish' and basically saying those who experience breathlessness with them are lying or over dramatic, I have found my symptoms coming back.

^This seems to be you allowing the voices of others to be louder than your own inner voice. She, your inner voice, needs to take charge, not ignorant, opinionated co-workers. Your opinion is worthy and means something if to nobody else, to you!

You were managing your anxiety and the mask wearing till you were over-run with the hysteria around you. You've already proven to yourself you can tolerate the masks. Another achievement imo. If you managed before the hyper-opinionated bs started, then there's every chance you can do it again. Ask yourself are these people you respect? Are they people that you must adopt their opinions to get along with? If not, tune out. We all have to work with people that test our patience and give us pause about their true intelligence but we still have to work with them unfortunately.

I really do not appreciate being told that I have not taken any responsibility to get help because I have
^I didn't say that.
 

coxysmelons93

Not Active
I wasn't clear. This is an online community with all sorts of ideas, perspectives and fairly robust opinions a lot of the time. :rolleyes:

Your response was really serious and that's what I'm suggesting you take another look at. If you think you were being attacked your response was clearly self-destructive. You started to pile onto yourself rather than take a step back and do some critical analysis. If this is a habit, letting others temper your mood, going forward will be perilous.

Rejecting what was written is one thing and you're well within your right to do so. But dismantling yourself and your own personality, saying you're giving up and have lost hope - not good. For you. If an anonymous online community poster who doesn't know you from Joe can do this then tread carefully.

I also acknowledge that you were probably really wound up with anxiety and stress about the mask stuff and not being able to express yourself to someone safe in your real life. I'm not attacking you btw. Just observing how down on yourself you are and how negative you are about the challenges you've already over-come re masks.



^So lets take the good from what you did in this instance ^?

You put a silk scarf around over your face and despite your fear and reservations. You tolerated all of the discomfort and kept it together to achieve a task. You noticed the acute symptoms of anxiety but kept your mind on the task.

^^This is an opportunity for growth - can you see this? As uncomfortable and panicked as you felt at the time, you still got the job done. So that's a good start. Don't simply focus on all of the negative stuff that comes crowding in - you did something and endured something that was difficult. That's great imo. And you could do it again perhaps? Worth thinking about isn't it? Worth giving it a go again because going to the supermarket is a grind for most people with ptsd for many and varied reasons. :cautious: It's also a great place to pick up bloody covid too now. :wtf: So a compelling reason to take it on and do it again? I think so.



^This seems to be you allowing the voices of others to be louder than your own inner voice. She, your inner voice, needs to take charge, not ignorant, opinionated co-workers. Your opinion is worthy and means something if to nobody else, to you!

You were managing your anxiety and the mask wearing till you were over-run with the hysteria around you. You've already proven to yourself you can tolerate the masks. Another achievement imo. If you managed before the hyper-opinionated bs started, then there's every chance you can do it again. Ask yourself are these people you respect? Are they people that you must adopt their opinions to get along with? If not, tune out. We all have to work with people that test our patience and give us pause about their true intelligence but we still have to work with them unfortunately.


^I didn't say that.


Ok I'm sorry I misunderstood and thank you for your response.

Things are easy to misinterpret online and I'll make sure I remind myself of this before reacting to posts in the future.

Thanks for the encouragement about managing the distress also, it means a lot.

The co-workers were split to be honest. There was only 2 who were very pro-mask (a minority really) and one was a supervisor but after she caught me having a meltdown in my office alone after and I explained the reason I find wearing one so hard she was actually sympathetic. I did previously respect these people and, honestly, I still do. After I went home sick that day a few a have reached out to check I was OK and I'm also in favour of their right to their own opinions, it was just a little lacking in tact or empathy (for all of those who struggle e.g. asthma, COPD, sensory issues not just people like me) but I think they're just a bit naïve maybe and didn't realise how they were coming across.

I don't normally react quite so severely to perceived criticisms or judgement, I've just had awful mood swings since encountering this trigger and seem to be struggling to think rationally a lot of the time at the moment (barely eating or sleeping isn't helping I'm sure).

Now I've got the visor, am getting an exemption card and staff support I think my mood will slowly start to return to normal, I'll probably just need a week or two to settle down.

Thanks so much for the support xx
 

Skywatcher

MyPTSD Pro
Well... I thought I had conquered masks. Maybe my dissociation method wore off and I almost lost myself to a panic attack yesterday at the grocery. I guess I have more to conquer here. My therapist told me that they make these filter masks out of lace. You can remove the filter and breathe through them. I reminded her that I’m a believer of why we are wearing the masks, so that plan doesn’t help that. I have shields coming. Maybe a shield and a lace mask? I don’t know. I plan to keep at it with the flash emdr on masks. Today I went from an 8 to a 5 to a 3. I hope it holds.
 

Mee

MyPTSD Pro
While this doesn’t work ontackli g your mask trigger- superMarkets are releasing new slots increasingly , I’ve been able to get Ocado deliveries three weeks in a row now. Slots with them are released daily again now.

I would tentatively suggest it’s perhaps not helpful to not try and rationalise not Trigger reasons To not wear the mask (eg ‘I have already had Covid -19 and so cannot infect people’).
 

coxysmelons93

Not Active
Well... I thought I had conquered masks. Maybe my dissociation method wore off and I almost lost myself to a panic attack yesterday at the grocery. I guess I have more to conquer here. My therapist told me that they make these filter masks out of lace. You can remove the filter and breathe through them. I reminded her that I’m a believer of why we are wearing the masks, so that plan doesn’t help that. I have shields coming. Maybe a shield and a lace mask? I don’t know. I plan to keep at it with the flash emdr on masks. Today I went from an 8 to a 5 to a 3. I hope it holds.


I really think the shield might be worth a try? Esepcially if you're worried about the virus as plastic might be more protective (to you and others) than lace but either way anything that could help is worth trying.

Really hope things get easier for you soon.

:)

While this doesn’t work ontackli g your mask trigger- superMarkets are releasing new slots increasingly , I’ve been able to get Ocado deliveries three weeks in a row now. Slots with them are released daily again now.

I would tentatively suggest it’s perhaps not helpful to not try and rationalise not Trigger reasons To not wear the mask (eg ‘I have already had Covid -19 and so cannot infect people’).


I might try Ocado then (thing is I normally use Lidl and Aldi so my costs are going to go up, hopefully this won't go on for too long). Thanks :)

I was only looking at the big supermarkets like Tesco and Asda before to be fair, didn't think of Ocado.

And I know that talking about my prior exposure could upset people but I'm getting very sick and tired of being basically called a murderer for struggling with this trigger by ignorant people (I don't mean you or anyone here I mean the 'karens' if you get my drift). Can't stand being made to feel like a bad person just because I have mental health problem.

But like I said, I will be doing my very best to avoid the shops unless I have to and then using the visor when it's unavoidable. xx

You might find this thread interesting/useful >>> Panic using face mask, seems it's a trigger...


Thanks, I'll have a look :)
 
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