So, I have to admit something. I haven’t talked to a therapist or psychiatrist or psychologist or any other “ist” about my PTSD symptoms and how I cope since I graduated from High School. The reason why? Well there are a few reasons why. I guess in part because I feel like I do alright figuring out how to cope and deal with the stress on my own. Not that I don’t need the support of others but I have figured out ways to cope and have pushed myself to find peace and acceptance. Another reason would be that a good psychiatrist isn’t always easy to find. But I could write a whole post just on that alone. Maybe I will in the future but today I want to talk a little about one of the words I remember hearing quite a bit from the professionals I did talk to. That word is “Triggers”.
Triggers are those things that cue the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Triggers can be divided into External cues and Internal cues. I’ve found that identifying my triggers has been both frustrating and helpful. It’s been helpful because some of the triggers were easy to eliminate from my life. It’s been helpful because I have been able to address certain triggers and reduce the impact they have on me. It’s been frustrating because some of the triggers I have no control over and can’t seem to find a way to have them not impact me more severely than I would like.
Two triggers that I have found frustrating that kind of go hand in hand are the anniversary and the weather. I think I’ve come to a point where I have resigned myself to accepting the fact that the anniversary will always have an affect on me in some form but currently it is more than I would like to live with. I lack motivation and feel tired. I also get a little tense and grumpy. Patience and understanding are not in ample supply for about a week around the anniversary. Some may say longer than a week though.
The weather as I’m sure you know follows patterns that correlate with the time of year. Which is great. Except that it means two triggers that I haven’t been able to really subdue come together. The day of the shooting was a typical spring day in good old Southern Alberta. It started out fairly pleasant turned grey and then did the rain/heavy snow/slush thing. The weather actually seemed to follow the events of the day of and the days following the shooting. Similar weather always makes me feel a little sad, and a little depressed. Another thing about the weather this time of year is it makes me start thinking about year end for school. I get anxious for school to be over and to be able to have my kids home. I start to feel worn from fighting the urge to keep my kids home from school and I find that I have the urge to go pick them up in the middle of the day more frequently. I am also reminded of the hard couple of months I had attending classes following the shooting..
Take the anniversary and the weather and all the thoughts and feelings that it brings out in me and what do you get? Well last night as I fell asleep something happened. I’m not sure what it was exactly, some glimpse of a dream shocked me. I twitched violently and woke up feeling like I was right back to the day of the shooting. I tried to ignore it, I tried to fall asleep but I twitched and whimpered and cried myself awake. I felt nauseous, I felt like screaming but I didn’t. I lay in bed and told myself that I just needed to fall asleep and that in the morning it would be gone. Eventually I did fall asleep and I feel much better this morning.
Sometimes I can feel these reactions building slowly over time. I haven’t figured out how to re-route the chain of reactions that occur so I don’t end up getting to the point where I am twitching, crying and wanting to scream in my sleep. Well at least this time I wasn’t punching the wall in my sleep. Hey maybe I just need to do it when I’m awake instead of caging it in till it leaks out in my sleep. Maybe if I just screamed, cried and punched the wall early in the chain of events it would put a stop to it. Ya, I don’t think I will take up screaming and punching walls as my therapy.I don’t know, maybe it would be helpful to talk to one of those professional types again. Maybe they could help me figure out a way to not twitch, cry and whimper in my sleep. Maybe.?.