Monday, August 22, 2016
PTSD ~ re traumatization (personal journey)
I have PTSD. I have managed to have it under control for 10 years now until recently when I was re traumatized by several people. I attempted to set strong personal boundaries and there was a lack of respect for those when I did by not one but 4 different people of which 3 were quite deliberate. I have now spent the past 9 weeks regaining the ground lost by the re traumatization.
I write here to help me measure not only my progress but remind me when things feel slippery again. This is a place for me to keep the bits and pieces and that is what the following is is bits and pieces for me.
I struggle but I also think I am doing quite well under all the circumstances I have found myself in recently (over the past 11 months especially.)
I will survive and thrive!! I am not going to be defeated and killed by this.
People who do not understand PTSD and yet are around someone who has it would be wise to arm themselves with facts and info so they can have a positive relationship with the person unless of course they do not really care about the relationship.
People who have recovered/learned to appropriately cope with the PTSD and symptoms are not so fragile that they can not sustain lasting and solid relationships. They simply may be more assertive on their personal boundaries which may include finding ways to remove themselves to a distance to feel safe from time to time. They know when they need to assert boundaries which include removal from volatile situations. Forcing them to over ride those boundaries or over riding those boundaries for them deliberately is not only unfair but has the potential to re traumatize. It is known as a toxic situation and a person with PTSD knows toxicity by others is something they need to remove themselves from quickly IF those people refuse to listen to the boundaries being set.
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Relationships, Trauma, and PTSD
Trauma survivors who have PTSD may have trouble with their close family relationships or friendships. Their symptoms can cause problems with trust, closeness, communication, and problem solving, which may affect the way the survivor acts with others. In turn, the way a loved one responds to him or her affects the trauma survivor. A circular pattern may develop that could harm relationships.
PTSD is diagnosed after a person experiences symptoms for at least one month following a traumatic event. However symptoms may not appear until several months or even years later. The disorder is characterized by three main types of symptoms:
Re-experiencing the trauma through intrusive distressing recollections of the event, flashbacks, and nightmares.
Emotional numbness and avoidance of places, people, and activities that are reminders of the trauma.
Increased arousal such as difficulty sleeping and concentrating, feeling jumpy, and being easily irritated and angered.
Once you have been traumatized, and then re-traumatized by triggering situations, you feel generally unsafe and there is a natural tendency to want to retreat…back up your steps and run for cover.
People with PTSD can be re-traumatized by people who do not understand, and by people who are more concerned with their own agenda than really understanding.
When someone with PTSD has certain triggers, and explains those triggers to someone, it is important that they are validated and respected. If someone wants to care about a loved one with PTSD, they need to really listen to that person, when they talk about what triggers them.
*A person that intentionally uses your triggers against you is dangerous to your mental well being.
But then there are people who just don’t want to listen to or respect your boundaries. Your perceptions are not of an significance to them.
Everyone has personal boundaries, but people with post traumatic stress disorder can suffer severe re-traumatization when a loved one does not honor their trigger boundaries.
The fight-or-flight mode is activated by the amygdala. If the brain perceives a threat, even if that threat is not real, the amygdala will send chemicals into the body like adrenaline and cortisol.
The feeling in the body of a “perceived threat” and a real threat is exactly the same. The same physiological responses occur, including blood pressure elevation, and feeling of extreme fear and the feeling that you have to act right away.
Once you have asked someone not to do certain things which trigger you, it is a terrible feeling when they still continue to do them. It feels very violating, and only serves to break the trust bond.
Relationships need to be based in trust. Intimate relationships, as well as friendships and family relationships have to feel safe. If one person does not feel safe, then there is a lack of understanding and a lack of trust.
Without both parties feeling safe, the relationship will break down. People with PTSD can find it difficult to trust again, after others have invalidated them about their symptoms.
Sometimes someone will disbelieve you, minimize your trauma, or accuse you of trying to manipulate them with your explanations about your trauma and your triggers. This is very painful and re-traumatizing.
People who have PTSD or C-PTSD from abuse were invalidated as part of the abuse process. Their emotions were minimized, disregarded and made fun of.
To have someone close to you minimize your PTSD, or disbelieve you is re-traumatizing. It gives the victim into an emotional flashbacks or actual sensory flashbacks.
You can only tolerate being traumatized and re-traumatized so many times.
People with PTSD need understanding and validation.
They need their loved ones to be sensitive to their triggers, and to pay attention to what the person asks and needs.
Otherwise. the relationships cannot continue in a way that is safe for the PTSD sufferer. The person with PTSD will shut down and crawl inside of themselves. No healthy relationship can be sustained without safety for both people.