“If someone else’s reaction seems out of proportion to the situation, it usually means that something else was triggered.”~Dr. Laura Fogel
Triggered is a word often discussed in the recovery community. I know what it looks like addiction-wise. Lately, I’ve been struggling with the unfamiliar: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). A mental health condition I was diagnosed with last year. I’ve had some bad days recently, and those were the days I was fighting the hardest. A common misconception is that everyone with PTSD is a combat veteran. I had no idea it affected individuals who dealt with past traumas. I’m beginning to grasp what a trigger looks like in this area.
I don’t have the coping skills/tools to deal with this psychological injury, yet. This is uncharted territory for me, so please bear with me as I share my journey. My prayer is that this reaches someone who needs it. I’ve marked my symptoms with 🚩. Bookmark this post for later reference if you find it helpful!
“Trauma comes back as a reaction, not a memory.”
~ Bessel Van Der Kolk
If you’re newly diagnosed with PTSD, then learn from my mistake and do your homework, babe. Ask questions so you’ll be prepared if/when you’re triggered. I thank God for the lessons I was taught while in treatment at The Home of Grace; I could’ve easily slipped right back to where I began. For me, a drug-induced trigger and a PTSD-induced trigger look very different. The only similarities I’ve noticed are a very short fuse and a “don’t give a __ attitude,” (MOOD & FUNCTION: detached, irritable, anxious 🚩) as well as the inability to concentrate/focus, despite taking my prescribed ADHD medication which helps me do these two specific tasks. (HYPER AROUSAL: difficulty concentrating🚩) The most important thing I can share with you is to familiarize yourself with your triggers. Above all else, lean into God. This will save you a lot of heartache in the future.
I don’t have all of the answers today. Check back in a couple of weeks because this is still all very new and fresh. I’ve scheduled an appointment with my therapist and will gladly share what I learn.
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.”
In February of 2021, I was diagnosed with PTSD. After being triggered for about a month or two of sleepless nights, I asked my general practitioner to refer me to a therapist. My thinking was a little off and I couldn’t pinpoint what was happening, but I knew it wasn’t my norm. I didn’t and still don’t know what triggered looks like in its entirety. The first time I was triggered consisted of sleepless nights (averaging 2-3 hours a night) and having the feeling of carrying around a heavy burden. This reaction was triggered by me watching the movie Promising Young Woman. After watching this movie, I couldn’t sleep, so I put on a documentary, I Am Evidence. Apparently, the combination of the two was a recipe for disaster. I never imagined watching movies would bring my past sexual traumas to the surface.
I told my parents about being molested as a little girl, a secret I carried for at least 30 years. They were also aware of my being raped at 18 years old. My mom drove me to the ER to have a rape kit done. The only thing I didn’t do was file a police report. (AVOIDANCE 🚩) In Louisiana, a victim’s choice to report or not report does not affect the statute of limitations. Our local police department doesn’t throw away untested kits. Therefore, I made an appointment and filed the police report. It was 23 years later, but I did it.
Sleep still eluded me. I was surprised when they manifested because I thought I dealt with/healed these things in rehab.
“When we deny the story, it defines us. When we own the story, we write a brave new ending.”
In the past, I choose to numb myself in this chapter. My goal has always been to heal. I struggle with pride, so my asking for help is a big deal. Growth is what I call it. It must be time for me to grow again, so I made another appointment with my therapist. This time I’m going to ask questions because it looks so different from the last time.
Have you ever heard of the expression your vocabulary would make a sailor blush? The F-Bombs and foul language coming out of my mouth were at an all-time high. (HYPER AROUSAL/MOOD & FUNCTION 🚩). I recognize that “fight” is one of my go-to trauma responses. I wasn’t aware of it. To need to stay busy is another one of my responses, and it’s hard for me to notice because I have ADHD, so I stay busy anyways. I haven’t slept in my bed for the past week; I’ve woken up with my laptop in my lap more often than not lately. (AVOIDANCE: avoiding thoughts, emotions, & reminders🚩). Hateful and hurtful words to be cruel, being aware of what I’m saying and saying without immediate remorse. (MOOD & FUNCTION 🚩) Confirming that I have some work to do.
“Forgive yourself for being triggered. Focus on healing, not perfection.” ~Michelle G. Edwards
I’m not a soldier, but I go to war every night with my thoughts because of my mouth, my attitude towards others, and with God for not taking “it” away. Mentally, I’m exhausted. Usually, a relatively passive person, this lingering negativity and the inability to forgive and forget are huge red flags for me. (RELIVING 🚩) This time around, triggered looked a lot different, and it’s taken about a month and a half for me to realize it. When I started getting angry with Him, I knew it was time to call in the professionals.
P.S. – Please don’t forget to come back and see me, I know I’ll have a lot more to share.