PTSD and its startle response

PTSD AND ITS STARTLED RESPONSE

PTSD AND ITS STARTLED RESPONSE are the worst. – John Arenburg.

I am lucky; every morning when I open my eyes to greet a new day I do so with a blank slate. I could have had the worst mental illness flare up the day before and still feel grateful and renewed the next day. However, PTSD and its startle response can change all that.

The exception being when the PTSD nightmares come for me in my slumber. These nightmares startle me awake and as a result, I start my day with a rapid heartbeat and a fear that plagues me for a good part of the day.

With this blank slate, I do my best to map out a day of normalcy. it doesn’t necessarily have to be full of joy but I always try to head in the right direction; a direction that allows me to conduct the everyday tasks that come with living.

I fully embrace them and don’t give in to the temptation to run home.

Taking care of chores, paying bills and making appointments. High on my priority list is meeting up with friends. My end goal is not to let PTSD imprison me in my own home. It’s of vital importance as I fear of what potential emergency could be lurking around the corner.

Yes, it can be overwhelming but we have no excuse not to try.

Living your life with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I resist fear with all my strength and step outside to greet the world. I do so with a sense of hope that today, I will be able to tolerate the very noisy and very busy world. As I said, I use social connections with friends as the primary reason I leave my home. Those whom I care about and who support me; I use it as my motivator to integrate into society.

I would be lying if I told you that I love being amongst the daily chaos. A chaos that is the everyday hustle and bustle of humanity. On the contrary, I despise it; but I do recognize that despite how I feel about it, I know I have to interact with society. so I, like I always do, defy it and I set off in hopes to win the day.

Learn more about how to recognize the symptoms of PTSD here: Symptoms of PTSD

Out of the many symptoms that are produced by PTSD, none are more impactful than the startle response. PTSD and its startle response are so problematic for me because when I am symptomatic, it increases my hypervigilance. As a result, I am in constant fight, flight or freeze mode. Being in this state makes me jump at every sudden noise, regardless of its volume. 

So, why is it such a challenge? Well, I find the tendency to be easily started so difficult because it is often the primary trigger that causes me to spiral into a mental health crisis.

I become so finely tuned to all the chatter surrounding me.

I become so finely tuned to all the chatter surrounding me, every little kid crying and each and every item be tossed about and dropped; even the clanging of a spoon against a plate can bring me out of my chair.

I feel like I am constantly vibrating, acutely aware of every last bit of commotion in the room. The price I pay for leaving the house is being scared out of my skin over and over again until I can’t take any more.

Sometimes I isolate myself for days because of PTSD AND ITS STARTLED RESPONSE.

It may help you to understand my plight if you stop and think back to a time where someone had scared the life out of you; think of the physiological response you had. Racing heart, a tinge of agitation and rapid breathing.

Go here for help with PTSD #firstrespondersfirst

Now, imagine what that would be like to experience that multiple times in a row. It puts me in a constant state that ranges from constantly irritable to level ten agitated. The best way I can put it is, it’s like getting a tiny shot of electricity over and over, after a while all you want is for it to stop assaulting your body.

Without a doubt, what I hate most is that those closest to me must endure the fallout. PTSD and its startle response effects everyone.

Check out A New Dawn Podcast here.

If that weren’t enough, its side effects lead to numbing recounts of things I’ve witnessed; it’s so numbing that I feel like I’m trying to make my way through molasses. These are the moments when I end up spending the day in bed. Sometimes I isolate myself for days.

PTSD and its startle response


Although these moments make it very tempting to just stay home, I remind myself that I have had great days interacting with the living, it has enriched my life; meeting up with an old friend or helping someone get through their own personal experiences with mental illness. Reminding myself of this, I know that tomorrow will be better.

One day I will beat PTSD and its startle response.

In crisis? Call 1.833.456.4566 | Text 45645 (Crisis Services Canada) Crisis Services Canada

Want to help make my book a reality? Donate here: GoFundMe

Contact us: The Road To Mental Wellness

You May Also enjoy: You, Me and PTSD




Depression's mindset

Depression’s mindset

Since the world fell to the mercy of the COVID-19 virus, I have been plagued with a low-grade sense of dread; a feeling that I have become all too familiar with over the years; my life has been held hostage by depression for as long as I can remember. To make matters worse, my mind has been hijacked by depression’s mindset.

Ways to cope though COVID-19:

Depression’s mindset

Over the years, I have learned that each mental illness has its own language; an interior dialect that can dictate how far down the rabbit hole I go. For example; when my anxiety disorder is speaking the loudest, it does so after it incorrectly accesses the environment I am in. When my anxiety is high, it will tell me that no one likes me.

Of course, this conclusion can’t really be true, can it? In reality, there’s no evidence of that. Similarly, depressive talk is responsible for brewing a deep sense of sadness within me. While this is somewhat obvious when we think about depression, its how my mind gets there that’s important.

Depression’s mindset is born out of the chatter in our heads.

In short, I am held captive by depression when I am experiencing the absence of something that gives me meaning or that I hold dearly; like friends and family. When denied, I find it difficult to defend my rational self; the sorrow just becomes too much.

How to find meaning in your life.

When this great brain invader speaks, my energy dwindles and I isolate myself. Pretty powerful right? So powerful in fact that it takes me out. Normally, I am a person with high energy and loads of passion. Sadly, but when the darkness settles over me, I am forced to retreat to my bedroom; mainly because of a few reoccurring lines bouncing around in my head.

Depression’s mindset

So then, what are these few dominating sentences that form depression’s mindset? Since my biggest passion in life is the love I have for family and friends, I tend to ruminate on them when I am experiencing a depressive episode.

What gets me down or exacerbates my lows is constantly thinking about their absence. Moreover, I tend to get angry at the fact that few of those I care for reach out. Although I understand that this is not done to be malicious, it nonetheless makes my isolation all the more difficult.

I mean, what the hell are we so busy doing?

What fuels the flames of this anger is this line; How can people not want to reach out when they care for someone? Sure, you may think about them often but that does little for those who care for you. I’m reminded of the old saying; “deeds not words.” Oneway relationships really cut and make you feel like you’re the only one trying.

Furthermore, my depressive voice only makes the dark even darker when I find myself saying; “It’s silly for people to use the excuse that they are too busy to call, go for coffee or stop in. To me, there’s no greater feeling then when someone whom you love calls and takes the initiative.

Want to hear other’s talk about their mental health journies? Then A New Dawn podcast is what you are looking for.

Sadly, this rarely happens. When I am well, it still bothers me but I manage it well; when held captive by depression’s mindset, it makes me want to sever ties with everyone. After all, why should I be the only one making the effort? Truly, does being “too busy” really trump the company of someone you care for? I mean, what the hell are we so busy doing? Binge-watching Netflix, playing video games and constantly staring at our phones? In my mind’s eye, we aren’t busy so much as we, just don’t “feel” like it.

you just might save a life

Equally sad, is that this “too busy” phenomenon has, at some point been normalized and for the life of me, I can’t figure out how we justify deprioritizing those who matter the most.

Finally, I remain hopeful that this unprecedented health crisis will help us to realine our priorities; to show us that we must make time for our loved ones; thereby cultivating our very real survival need for connection.

So, if you wish to quell your anxiety, fear and depression, put down that device, pause Netflix and whatever else you are doing and just reach out. You never know, you just might save a life.

In crisis? Call 1.833.456.4566 | Text 45645 (Crisis Services Canada) Crisis Services Canada

Want to help make my book a reality? Donate here: GoFundMe

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Social Media Therapeutic or Harmful

Once I walked out through the doors at the workplace for the last time and walked my way to a world that was not only overflowing with mental pain that was starting to bust out of my seams, I also faced a world of complete uncertainty.

This uncertainty, as you might well imagine is scary, to say the least. In the early days of being off work, I had no supports in place, no routine and, as a guy who needs to be constantly busy, this didn’t help matters any; especially in the mental health department. If you have been following my wellness journey here on The Road To Mental Wellness, Then you will remember that one of my favourite sayings is: “You get to choose where you but your energy”. Refusing to remain idle and allow the voice of mental illness to consume my authentic self, I set about finding ways to keep myself busy.
I have always been a helper, it’s what I do, it’s where I get my energy. You can look at it as my default setting in which defines who I am. So I naturally gravitated towards helping others. This time, my focus would be on those who are frozen in fear of stigma. I was then and still am now telling my story and hoping that it resonates with people; enough to put them on their own path to mental wellness.
Taking on this very important work in this day and age, social media is a necessity. You need to find ways to drive traffic to your blog. The work that goes on behind the scenes, just so you can read this post is very time-consuming. It involves networking with other mental health bloggers, getting your page to rank so it will be seen on Google and lots must be done to build and maintain an audience. Like advertising when you publish new material. 
This brings me to the heart of this post. I have found social media very therapeutic and have met many wonderful people from all corners of the globe. However, it does have a sinister side that can be just as toxic to one’s mental well-being, as toxic as forgoing treatment. The devil that lies within the binary code that is the algorithms all social media platforms use, can have detrimental effects.
These algorithms are experts at picking up what you involve yourself in. If you’re a huge fan of cars or flowers, your feeds will be dominated by all things car or flower related. Wonderful, for these are more passion-driven and can produce a lot of useful, even joyous information. But when the subject matter deals with the difficulties that come with life, this algorithm can encase one in a person of their own struggles. In my case, it can hinder any progress I make with my PTSD, Anxiety and depressive disorders. All I ever see are mental health adverts, other bloggers in my follow the cue and sponsored ads for mental health organizations.
It is for this reason that my social media presence isn’t as prevalent as it is recommended. Honestly, I can’t do it, It throws fuel on my mental illness fires that are always burning inside of me. But, like all things, I strive for balance and limit myself to mornings and I periodically glance at it during the day. Committing time to friends and family is essential for me; so in that sense, social media doesn’t work for me. Anyone who blogs can tell you that it can consume you. Something I’m not willing to do is allow the “customized user experience” to tweak the reward centre of my brain, leave me addicted and thus worse off with my mental health than when I started. For more on The impact of social media on your mental health, check here.

If you are into mental health blogging and feeling worse than when you turned to it for help, maybe you need to throttle it back and find the best balance for you. I believe that minimizing mental illness impacts is a holistic endeavour, one that requires exercise, downtime and the right amount of real social interaction. So, Mental Health bloggers, Is social media therapeutic or harmful? It’s worth taking a serious look at and fine-tuning your tolerances so you can continue to do what you love. If I only reach ten people, that’s ten lives I have helped. When you think about it, that’s awesome! I don’t worry about the number of page views, likes and shares, I worry about my health above helping the entire world. For tips on managing mental illness go here: How to stay mentally well. 

if you are suffering from PTSD or another mental illness, please reach out. I thank you for your service and you are still worthy and mean something. I believe in you!


If you are struggling please go here: Crisis Services Canada





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