Monday, November 9, 2009

Strong emotions as a trigger for PTSD

I think I've discovered another trigger for myself. I've read about it in fact sheets and the like, but haven't actually had it affect me until this morning.

The trigger? Strong or extreme emotion. In this case, fury. Over breakfast, I had a suspicion confirmed and became overwhelmingly angry at someone for being a coward and a liar and taking my friendship and completely sh*tting on it. I was furious. Then I had to go to class, and found that I couldn't concentrate during lecture. No biggie, right? Sometimes I have days like that, when I just space out and can't focus. I was listening most of the time, but not 100% focusing. Then I got really cold suddenly, and had to put on a jacket. I felt kind of sick to my stomach, dizzy, disoriented. It wasn't until after I left class and was walking home that I realized that I was completely dissociated. I was looking at the world through the same eyes as I did a year and a half ago, where everything was there but somehow not real. I'm not sure how to explain it. It was warm and balmy outside, but I was huddled in two jackets and detached from everything. Everything around me seemed to have an extra echo or shadow to it, because it felt like I wasn't really there and observing it first-hand. Pretty classic detachment the way I used to experience it.

The funny thing is that my fury at this dipshit has absolutely nothing to do with my rape or any previous abuse. For all his cowardice and dishonesty, I do believe that he wasn't being an asshole just because I was raped. (He's just a jerk, plain and simple.) My overwhelming, seething rage has nothing to do with the cause of my PTSD, but somehow it still triggers me. Interesting.

I remember reading that extreme emotion, whether related to the trauma or not, can be a trigger for survivors. I'll have to try to find a reference for this. When I find it, I'll edit this post or make a new one.

On a more optimistic note, I've been better overall at controlling my responses to triggers. Lately there have been a lot because I've been around people who remind me of my rapist in little ways, but I've been able to take note of the resemblance, take a deep breath, and control any panic before it spirals out of control. I'm doing better with that.

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