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Trauma, PTSD and Lockdown: When You’re Triggered While Stuck at Home


girl stuck inside house
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

My PTSD symptoms have been off the hook during lockdown. Which is ironic because the door is closed. Locked down. There’s no freedom to come and go as we please. Which is making me feel trapped. Causing my body to act like a frightened animal. Alert. On edge. Ready to fight or to flee. 

PTSD is among the most persistent of all six of my neurological disorders. It comes up most days quite strongly. Screaming for attention. Taking me hostage if I refuse to comply. Leaving me at the mercy of sounds. Of movement. Of people coming and going and creating unexpected smells and sounds. And with everyone at home, I’m never alone. Ever. 

Even when I leave the house in our new tree-lined town (where I’d hoped the focus would be on enjoying nature), people want to make friends six feet apart. Chat. Engage. So when I’m struggling, I can’t leave the house like a timid animal (or like a rabid one) unless I want to show everyone my struggles. Or worse, try to hide them. Making me feel like I have nowhere to go but to stay in. 

And that’s not to mention working from home with my husband here too. He usually leaves the house every day. Leaving me to work alone in the serenity of our home. Where I can think. Where I can hear myself. Where I can avoid being triggered. 

He and I created a schedule at the beginning of lockdown for who would be in which rooms at which times during the workday. A smart move as he is on video chats and phone calls most of the day while I’m quietly grading or writing. But after making the move to teach fully online a few years ago (because it was too difficult to engage with others constantly), I find it all the more difficult to have a coworker now. Someone who is constantly around. Moving. Talking. Potentially dropping things or making loud noises. Noises that will trigger me. Send me into an altered state.

Like the other day. My husband was lifting kettlebells in our unfinished basement. And I was working in my office above. And then he dropped one on the cement floor below me. And the sound and vibration shot straight up through me.

My body reacted in a way that can best be described as having been shot. It looked as if I was a suspect running from the scene of a crime and then got shot in the back several times. I know because I was watching from above.

My body convulsed. Stiffly and fiercely. Throwing me into undulating movements. And when it was all over, I was on the ground. Terrified. Subsided. 

Triggered. 

It took me a few minutes to realize I was okay. That I had not been attacked as my body felt I had been. And I had to run downstairs to confirm that it was, in fact, just my husband who had accidentally made the sound.

After, I took some deep breaths. Smoked my medical marijuana. Drank some water. And was able to compose myself — to bring myself back to the present moment I was living in — but I wasn’t able to return to work. Not that day or the next. It took me several days to recover. To feel safe again. In my home. In my body.

I’ve hesitated to share this because, at first, I felt rather self-indulgent discussing my triggers while stuck at home amid COVID. When I know people are in much worse situations. Dire situations. But then I realized that my situation is dire for me. As I’m sure it is for many others. 

Which is why it is so utterly important to talk about our mental health right now. To feel our feelings. To admit when we’re struggling. To reach out to those who love us. And to love ourselves. 

I’m fighting it just as much as I’m sure many of you are. Stick with it. We shall survive this too.

If you suffer from PTSD, read here for tips on how to survive. Also, read here to learn more about PTSD and how to get help.

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Trauma, PTSD and Lockdown: When You’re Triggered While Stuck at Home


Jenna Grace

Jenna Grace is a writer and educator with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sensory processing disorder (SPD), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), social anxiety disorder (SAD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) diagnoses. She writes and speaks about topics including healing from trauma, coping with neurological disorder and practicing mindfulness in order to help others and to explore new meaning. Visit her website for more of her stories.


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APA Reference
Grace, J. (2020). Trauma, PTSD and Lockdown: When You’re Triggered While Stuck at Home. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2020, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/neurodivergent/2020/05/trauma-ptsd-and-lockdown-when-youre-triggered-while-stuck-at-home/

 

Last updated: 8 May 2020
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network (blogs.psychcentral.com) prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.