Last week’s post explored how I really appreciate everyday things that a lot of other people take for granted because even though they’re pretty normal for healthy people, they’re not yet quite normal for me.
This week I experienced the flip-side of that: because I have PTSD, sometimes events that would be fairly easily brushed off by others can be really extreme experiences if they are triggering for me.
Without going into details of the triggering event, I want to describe the ways it affected me.
First, it knocked me off my usual ability to control myself. I quickly devolved into a shaking, crying mess. I started repeating unhelpful questions and sayings to myself featuring, “Why did he touch me,” and “I f****** hate that person.” I felt scared and confused. I also felt incredibly embarrassed. I was out on a date and would have loved to have been able to compartmentalize the interaction I had with bar staff and not lose my s*** in front of my date. (My date, by the way, was really helpful in getting me grounded again, redirecting me out of my negative thought-loops.)
Second, I spent the next few days jumpy and skittish in public. Granted, in the past I would have probably been afraid to leave my house for a few weeks, so I appreciate that I can still continue to meet most of my responsibilities despite the anxiety.
Third, I had more trouble sleeping than usual. This effect can be particularly problematic because sleep deprivation is stress-inducing.
I spent the next couple days in a bit of a frenzy. I already had a lot of commitments to follow through on, and I didn’t take a lot of time for self-care immediately. I talked about the experience in my weekly therapy group on Wednesday night. On Thursday, I bowed out of an event I had been looking forward to because I knew I needed some time to myself. On Friday, I took some time out to get pampered and had my lashes tinted.
I also took advantage of my neighborhood’s annual clean-up yesterday and gave myself some community-therapy. Community-therapy is my term for time spent at public events that specifically reinforce my sense of belonging, safety and of being supported. It’s a pretty perfect cure for the “fear everyone” mode I get into after a trigger. I spent the afternoon and into the night with dozens of people I know and have a myriad of positive experiences with. Seeing them all have a blast volunteering and coming together reminded me of how much good there is in the world.
Both Are True
A friend posted a saying on Facebook a couple years ago that has stuck with me: “Don’t let a bad day make you think you have a bad life.” I hate being triggered, and I put a lot of effort into avoiding triggering situations, but I know these lows are not my life. They are only a part of it.
The PTSD issues I’ve had this week contrast with but don’t make my last post untrue. I have more to work through from this trigger, but I wanted to post about it now because I wanted to show that even with all the joy and freedom I’ve found, I still struggle to cope and come to terms with my trauma history, AND that’s OK. Some of the feedback I’ve gotten from readers includes people negatively comparing themselves to me or the parts of my life and progress that make me feel happy and successful.
Do You Compare?
What areas of your life to do you compare to others? How do you help yourself avoid comparison? Let me know below.
*If you’d like some tips on managing comparison, check out this video from Christine Hassler.
Rebecca encourages survivors of domestic to speak about their experiences and to lean on each other for support.