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When sufferers suddenly fear those who are relatively safe

Thread starter #1
Supporters sometimes comment about suddenly being seen as an enemy when a sufferer is triggered.

Anyone experience this from the sufferer side and catch themselves in it?

I get scared of friends now and then, and usually take space until I can tell if it’s a symptom spike or appropriate response to them. I’m in a place in life where that’s weird to them now... and I’m trying to date where it’s even harder to just suddenly go MIA for a bit.

Wondering how others manage this in terms of prevention, stopping it quickly when it happens, and in communicating to others.
suddenly being seen as an enemy when a sufferer is triggered
Have you read about 'splitting'? That might bring up some helpful info for you, although I think a lit of the literature is written for the supporter, rather than the sufferer, since insight into this sort of stuff can be pretty difficult.

Does it swing back and forth with your symptoms? Or is it more like, once someone has become untrustworthy or dangerous in your mind for whatever reason then they're permanently marked?

That might help with the management strategy you'd use. In the first case, it's probably more about managing your symptoms (stress cup stuff). In the second case, it's probably more about CBT type stuff (black/white thinking), and figuring out the core beliefs driving it.

ETA There's attachment issues going on there too, though. I have avoidant/ambivalent attachments. Wondering where you identify yours?
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Basically, I golden-rule it.

How would I want someone else to treat me when THEY are furious, freaked out, or suddenly afraid of me?

Goes double when someone is pissed at me for something I didn’t do, freaked out about something I see an easy solution -or 6- to, or their fear is totally baseless as what they’re afraid of isn’t in my nature or character.
You could try to figure out what makes it easiest to communicate, JMH, islands of sanity - if you are scared of them, what of them isn't terrifying and what of them, while terrifying, is relatively handle able to you?

Think less in absolutes more in what still remains safe and without alteration.
Thread starter #5
I don’t think I really tend to see people as all good or all bad. Maybe. My abusers had good qualities and good friends can do very harmful things. The good qualities of someone sometimes can make them all the more accidentally dangerous...

A phrase that used to trigger me is “this will help you.” It doesn’t anymore, but I can recall a time a friend said that and I had to walk away in order to not flip out and tell them “no!” with such gusto that would make no sense to them. I can like people who I’m also afraid of... for a moment or on-going. It’s like the time someone tried to help me by pulling off something off my leg and instead pulled me over and off a ledge and slide me
on gravel. I told them no stop, and they did it anyhow in the name of helping... They meant no harm, but my side was all scratched up and bruised all the same. I was livid. It was a complete accident and it wasn’t the injury that got to me. It was the no getting ignored in the name of helping. The good I could see in that moment only somehow made it worse.

100 percent evil people? Not even worth bothering. That’s a fight or run and get the hell away situation.

It’s when I know I want the contact but whatever a person is doing is setting off every alarm. And goodness knows if my alarms are accurate or not...

It’s a matter of needing something different than walking away or fighting off people when my hands are shaking because something they are doing has me spooked.

I guess I’d want someone else in that space to tell me... but in the moment all I seem to be able to communicate is.”no stop” and then leaving.
Thread starter #6
What I’m trying out currently:

“I care about you. I’m spooked. I need (this boundary) to calm my nerves. It may be about this or other things in my life, but it doesn’t change that I need (the boundary) to settle my nerves and I need time to sort out my head. I can’t talk with you about it right now, but maybe later.”


People do not see your inside dialogue or may not be able to know when exactly you are spooked so just as you would not share everything in your head with everyone or with a child, you can just excuse yourself and ask some down time. That way no blame, no shame and just basic respect. Then share after you are calm if you need and if it is intimate relationship so the other can relate to you... And your need for space is not received as control or misunderstanding or create unnecessary tension.

However, it is important to be entitled to your own feelings and the reasons behind them and not share on demand or out of fear or the need to keep peace. This is normal and those who know us and care about us can also trigger us the easiest.
It’s a dynamic I struggle with everyday. I am trying to overcome being always guarded by seeing everybody and every situation as a potential threat, so i have always seen others and the world as unsafe. But i am making progress, i want to learn to love the world again, not hate it and fear it.
Justmehere Thanks for posting this. I think that the strategy that you are currently using is really good. Being scared and having the courage to be that vulnerable to say it to someone ironically shows a lot of courage and actually trust. You trust that person with the way you are feeling and those feelings you have are real even when the reasons for it may not be. I have been on the other side of the coin ie. I have been feared by my loved one. My reaction has usually been a very neutral “ok. Wanna have coffee?” I try to be accepting and I don’t get hurt by it or dissapointed. In his case, he fears having his heart broken and it took him 6 years of my patience for him to figure it out. When I dont want to feel what I am feeling, I replay a situation and insert the feeling I want to have over and over again in my mind. This takes practice but for me it has worked out really well. I hope that those with whom you feel comfortable with have the wisdom to not take things too personally. Its important to surround ourselves with people that do not express constant dissappointment or react by rejecting us. I hope that you can always find people that will accept you just as you are.
“I care about you. I’m spooked. I need (this boundary) to calm my nerves. It may be about this or other things in my life, but it doesn’t change that I need (the boundary) to settle my nerves and I need time to sort out my head. I can’t talk with you about it right now, but maybe later.”
What about going with "I care about you, I'm spooked right now, I need (whatever you need) to calm my nerves."

What I'm saying is, you don't owe anyone a detailed explanation. Ask for what you need and expect the request to be honored. If they feel like they can't honor the request? IDK? I guess, personally, they'd have to give me a pretty good reason. Sometimes it seems like giving a lengthy explanation gives people more of an opportunity to argue. Mention "maybe later" and you invite questions about what "later" is, what does "maybe" mean, etc. "I can't deal with this right now" ought to be enough.
Anyone experience this from the sufferer side and catch themselves in it?
I'm honestly never quite sure, when that happens, if the problem is them, or me. LOL It's helped to learn that there are a few specific things that I'm aware of that reliably set off alarm bells. "Women who look/move like my mother" reliable set off alarm bells. I didn't realize that was what it was until I mentioned to my T that I had come to realize that one of the reasons I'd always disliked Nancy Reagan was that she reminded me of my mother. He said that was a good thing to know, it was a version of transference. Now, when I ask myself "What bothers me about this person?" if the answer is "She looks/sounds/moves/thinks like my mother" I know I need to try to filter out how much of my reaction is based on reality and how much is based on a PTSD thing. Usually it's a PTSD thing. It helps me a lot to know that.
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