PTSD Journals: On Second Thought – Misconceptions

17

03/26/2014 by syrbal-labrys


The Minotaur and I were talking recently, about some of the subtler effects of PTSD and how one can slide into a state of being controlled by the affliction before you knew it.  But the larger part of of conversation, as often, was about the reaction of others to the admission of having PTSD.  Something both of us have heard is “Oh, just put it behind you, LET GO of those memories, already.”

Well, you see, that is the thing.  That is pretty much a big distinguishing mark of PTSD — you might try your best to ‘let go’ — even bury memories.  But the events of your trauma do NOT LET GO OF YOU.  And if you are unaware of triggers because you are trying so hard to pretend those events are not jerking your strings and making you dance, things begin to fall apart.

I, for instance, have to know and admit if I am out shopping for groceries and I hear or see a woman throw a child into a cart or car or speak to a child in a certain voice; I will then need to do some mental health maintenance on myself to avoid a bit of slippage.  I can’t just dismiss it with “What a bitch.”  I have to remind myself very forcefully that I am NOT that child, that woman has no control over ME.  And yes, occasionally, I even have to ask myself IF what I thought I heard or saw really happened.  If I don’t do this, I will be keyed up and over-reactive to other things later.  And the spiral down gains speed.

It is nearly impossible to avoid every trigger; regardless of the source of the PTSD.  Mine derived from years of childhood abuse.  My husband had that, as well as wartime issues.  He can avoid certain war movies, he has more trouble avoiding fireworks, or helicopter sounds — or, since we live near military bases, the sound of gunfire.  He still has trouble not having a PTSD mediated response to ME if I am angry.

Working with the public is very difficult for me because certain tones of voice used by parents to children set me on edge.  The resultant hyper-vigilant response evoked in me is exhausting and hard to turn off.  Someone actually striking a child or woman actually has sent me into physical attack mode, and it sends me into depression if I cannot take some appropriate action upon witnessing questionable behaviors.

All the people with PTSD would joyfully “let go” if we could.  Most of us, with work and help are content to get to where we can “put down” the thorn in our own sides, the spike through the heart, and unseat the mental monkey on our backs!  Some get it under enough control to live without the constant mind-minding; others — like me, have to do maintenance just like a diabetic takes a daily shot.

 

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17 thoughts on “PTSD Journals: On Second Thought – Misconceptions

  1. […] yesterday I was engaged in an online discussion about the public’s lack of knowledge about the long term consequences of PTSD and why people […]

  2. […] yesterday I was engaged in an online discussion about the public’s lack of knowledge about the long term consequences of PTSD and why people […]

  3. fallconskat says:

    PTSD. weird thing is, TheEngineer is in denial of things their parents did to him as being abusive. his sister readily admits it to me, and says that SHE was spared all the abuse, and it was heaped on him. and that’s what drove her to be a foster parent, and to seek a law degree to help children, BECAUSE of witnessing that.

    i know i have it. childhood abuse, spousal abuse (the evil ex), rape. heh, i kind of hit the trifecta, didn’t i? pass the eyewash, the eyeballs got dusty as they rolled across the floor, again. and no, i cannot “get over it”. certain songs when i’m not aware they’re coming, the smell of certain aftershave, being snuck up on…those things are bad for me. and this is why i married men who cannot walk softly to save their souls, you know?

    but yeah. i liken PTSD as trying to change your eye color or your skin melanin level. it CANNOT be erased. it can be controlled to a certain extent, but it is never GONE.

    • Yes, it’s not something just put away, or done away with–it is managed at best. Certain tone of voice, or sound helicopter rotors, or the wrong smell in the air, any number of things can undo a day.

  4. Rowan says:

    Cripes, the timing on this. A friend sent me a simple article this week that sparked a discussion of how abuse victims deal with the aftermath of their abuse. One of those cases where the author of the article obviously wasn’t a survivor. In discussing it, from a mentally distanced spot in my brain, I was disputing the article when my friend asked me if I had any problems hearing the song that was playing when i was raped. He said, clinically, that it was so long ago that it shouldn’t matter – I should be over it by now. I tried to warn him off, but dammit, he was “just trying to understand” and kept pushing his agenda. I fled. I stopped short of scrub-brushing my skin in the shower.

    “Oh, just put it behind you, LET GO of those memories, already” I wouldn’t put anyone through what happened when those memories were made. But sometimes I wish for more compassion, more empathy, an understanding of when I say “Stop, you’re triggering me; it hurts” that it isn’t an invitation to re-victimize me.

    • Yeah, as I explained to Tom — I do try, now that I know most of his triggers, to NOT trigger him. He never gave it a thought till recently, however; and I had to tell him he was driving me batty.
      It’s like rough sex with no safe word — cause they are not LISTENING FOR the word!

      • Rowan says:

        Damn, you nailed it right on the head with that simile! I wonder if he would recognize *that* the next time. Probably not, but maybe it’s worth a try. The thing I hate is that *I* have to be the one to come up with a Stop method. Maybe a swift kick to the gonads would work, but I suppose I’d be told I was “over-reacting.”

      • Haven’t you heard? Triggered victims with PTSD are not responsible for overreacting as it’s a medical reaction.

      • Rowan says:

        /sarcasm on
        Maybe if you’re male….
        /sarcasm off

      • Trauma is equal opportunity, so so is reactivity.

    • pjvj says:

      >>>He said, clinically, that it was so long ago that it shouldn’t matter<<>>But sometimes I wish for more compassion, more empathy, an understanding of when I say “Stop, you’re triggering me; it hurts” that it isn’t an invitation to re-victimize me.<<<

      Yes!

  5. pjvj says:

    This is an excellent piece. Clearly explains why PTSD isn’t something one merely “gets over”. Thank you for writing it.

  6. pjvj says:

    I couldn’t read past this part: Something both of us have heard is “Oh, just put it behind you, LET GO of those memories, already” it made me so angry. Again. People still saying this, after all the exposure to what PTSD is.

    I will read the rest later.

    • Yeah, that is why earlier in the week, I was thinking I wouldn’t write more about this — I was so triggered I was seeing red and yet, still, being told to “let go”. ‘Course, for me? Perfection in pissativity is when that line is finished with “let God”!

      • pjvj says:

        I must have missed the earlier one because of residual woo head from the workshop and migraine all day yesterday. But I promise I will read the rest of this at some point and weigh in. Feel free to bump me if I don’t. Still a hint of the migraine around the edges.

        (And so you aren’t looking in the mail for awhile, I haven’t soaked things for your oil yet.)

      • No worries on the oil! I’ve been nigh migrainish myself lately…which is rare these days, so I completely understand. I think the other ptsd post was on Monday, iirc. The weeks have been a bit blurred of late.

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Herland

The name of this blog, and my Dreamwidth blog, Herlander Refugee, is taken from a 1915 feminist novel "Herland". It makes my heart sing that modern women are experimenting with creation of a new "Herland"! Yes, comments are closed. Anyone who just MUST reach me can do so at syrbal6 at gmail dot com.

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