15 thoughts on “PTSD, Fight-or-flight and Relationships: When Being Triggered Makes You Difficult to Be Around

  • January 25, 2020 at 8:21 am

    I am so very proud of you for sharing!

    Reply
    • February 1, 2020 at 1:41 pm

      Thank you, Melissa 🙂 Means a lot 🙂

      Reply
  • January 26, 2020 at 7:08 am

    Thank you! It’s so refreshing when i can see what i feel and what others i love who also suffer feel and experience written. It is so validating. As you know, there is a great deal of shame and humiliation and often frustration that comes with what i call “an episode”. Ive worked hard for years trying to control my reactions to the triggers but sometimes i just can’t. It’s exhausting mentally and physically and those who don’t understand it see if as selfish and childish. As hard as we try not to let it define us, it is equally as difficult for those who love us to remember we have it. After all, if you manage to overcome addiction and all the other risk factors associated with it, PTSD is very much an invisible yet very debilitating disease. It takes hold of your mind, body, and soul and if you are like me, it is easy to forget your true age because this disease leaves you feeling 20+ years older. So thank you for the validation i needed this week!

    Reply
    • February 1, 2020 at 1:46 pm

      Hi Kimberly,

      You are so very welcome 🙂 I’m sorry to hear you suffer too, but know you are not alone.

      All we can do is manage our triggers, practice self-care and hope that those who love us know it is because of what happened to us that we are the way we are.

      Sending you light and love.

      All My Best,
      Jenna

      Reply
  • January 30, 2020 at 2:55 am

    I am alergic to PTSD. When I am triggered I break out in handcuffs. My PTSD is a result of abuse that began in my toddler years before any cognitive (vs instinctual) behavior patterns emmerged. It is very very difficult to control the way I respond when I am triggered. I was primary care provider for my children for 15 years. As a parent I meet my children halfway. As babies than means I put my hand on top of theirs and pick up the toy and put it away. As they mature they can do more for themselves. In recovery I ask the authorities to grow up and be more responsible in the way the treat me. If I expect them to do so I need to be trying just as hard to grow up and compensate for my disabilities. Attending communication workshops such as Non-Violent Communication, Collaborative Problem Solving, Second Steps and Motivational Interviewing is a process of classical conditioning that allows me to slowly re-write the pathways in my brain represented by my acting out when I am triggered. That is not enough. I found practice groups where I can practice these communication strategies twice a month. I helped present a workshop at the local public safety academy in front of 100 or so police officers. It terrified me but I managed. I used to cry in public every time I tried to speak about my children and what I wanted to be different for them than it was for me. More and more these new pathways allow me to speak and listen effectively under the most strenuous of circumstances. The last time I was charged the charges were dismissed after probation and the officer was reprimanded (sort of) for escalating instead of me. If we engage in this process of classical conditioning and we still make mistakes we get to look in the mirror and like that person. If we don’t then we have very little credibility when we demand that the system and other people change to accommodate us.

    Reply
    • February 1, 2020 at 1:51 pm

      Hi Victor,

      It sounds like you have been through a lot, and I am happy to hear you’ve found ways to help yourself.

      We have a lot to endure, but we’re strong 🙂

      All My Best,
      Jenna

      Reply
  • February 2, 2020 at 2:12 pm

    Thanks Jenna. That was the private victory Stephen Covey talks about. Now I pursue the public victory. Especially in recovery we can accomplish much more together than we can individually. I hope in sharing we will connect with those who follow and reduce the amount of time they spend in hopelessness and despair or just the white knuckle trudgery of dry recovery.

    Reply
    • February 7, 2020 at 2:35 pm

      Hi Victor,

      I too hope sharing helps us and brings us together. As it already has 🙂

      All My Best,
      Jenna

      Reply
  • February 7, 2020 at 1:25 am

    Campfire Paradise California. We have moved to Oregon to live next to my parents. I have a severely ill daughter and other issues I won’t share. Been a helluva couple years. I had two heart attacks, I’m only 48. My parents haven’t spoke to me for two months bc I snapped and swore at my mother after yet one more crisis. PSTD has been nearly a dealbreaker for me. Been suicidal for so long I just ignore the thoughts bc I can’t leave my kids. On the other hand, people who can’t forgive my slips of emotions and hurt, well whatever. I got some who are strong enough and and empathetic and evolved enough to love me through this. Others, including my parents, hold me to some unattainable standard right now. Some day I know I will be more stable and maybe never the way I was, but I forgive myself for my pain and occasionally losing my shit. If some can’t give me that space then I forgive them but i can’t add it to my anxiety. I can’t care. I’m saving my own self. Peace

    Reply
    • February 7, 2020 at 2:53 pm

      Hi Sara,

      I’m so sorry to hear of your struggles. Thank you for sharing. I know all too well how hard it can be, and my heart goes out to you.

      Occupational therapy saved my life, so if you haven’t tried it yet, I’d highly recommend it. Click here for more information.

      I wish you light, love and support on your journey.

      All My Best,
      Jenna

      Reply
    • February 8, 2020 at 7:34 pm

      Thank you for sharing your story Sara. Family can be the greatest asset or the worst barrier when it comes to recovery. I wish you the strength and perseverance to come out the other side of this dark tunnel one day.

      Reply
  • May 7, 2020 at 2:42 pm

    Thank you for writing so honestly about this experience. I’ve certainly been there. I’m so grateful to my friends and family for being so gracious with me when I lose my shit.

    I found your blog today because yesterday, a friend who also has PTSD and I got into a very strange “fight” where she got upset at me over pretty much nothing, and no matter how much I tried to apologize or make things right immediately, she just got more upset. It was like everything I said went into her ears backwards. I sincerely apologized, and she accused me of giving her “attitude.”

    This person is very dear to me, I’ve known her for 7 years, and she normally does not act like this at all! Within a few minutes of backing off from the situation I realized that she and I were both triggered. I also remembered that something similar happened one time years ago, and that she was probably triggered back then too.

    Now I wonder how to approach her and try to make up with her. I am not sure how aware she is of her triggers so I’m not sure how she will respond to me saying something like “it seems like you might have been triggered.” I wonder if you have any thoughts.

    Reply
    • May 8, 2020 at 3:44 pm

      Hi Jenn,

      You are welcome; thank you for reading.

      I really appreciate your sharing. I am sorry to hear about what happened with your friend. It can be awfully difficult when both parties are triggered, so I’m glad you both made it out of the conversation safely.

      I’m learning about using the word, “triggered,” and how it does not resonate with people if they are not at that stage, and about how using the word, “trigger,” can be triggering, so it sounds wise you are refraining from saying it.

      Observing and holding space for someone is something I’m starting to learn about: avoiding topics that I observe trigger them, observing my feelings and behaviors around them, letting them work through their trigger around me with my silent support, praying for them to connect to themselves, etc.

      I also find that doing sensory-engaging activities together is helpful: going for a walk, exercising, cooking, etc.

      Good luck mending things. It sounds like your friend is lucky to have such an aware, loving friend. Keep holding space and she will come around.

      All My Best,
      Jenna

      Reply
      • May 9, 2020 at 8:23 pm

        Jenna, thank you for taking the time to write back so thoughtfully. I really appreciated your perspective and took a couple days to digest. Today I went and left my friend some things outside her door, including a simple note that said I noticed she wasn’t her usual self the other day, and I hoped she was feeling ok, and I’d love to hear from her. I also texted to let her know I’d dropped stuff off, and I hoped she was well. Joyfully, she wrote back and explained she’d had a med change 2 weeks ago, and noticed tiny things were setting her off. She apologized for that and thanked me for supporting her. So we are ok 🙂 Thanks for helping me remember what it’s like to be on the other side of this situation and figure out a way to mend things. I will continue to follow you here. Take care!

        Reply
      • May 18, 2020 at 2:27 pm

        Hi Jenn,

        I am so happy to hear that!

        I’m sure your post will be helpful to others, so thanks again for sharing 🙂

        All My Best,
        Jenna

        Reply
 

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