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.

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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

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Contact us: The Road To Mental Wellness

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When the fog rolls in

When The Fog Rolls In

If you happen to be in touch with your mental illness(s), you know when a storm is brewing. A mental health storm, at least from my experience, has a certain familiarity to them. You just know when the fog rolls in that it may decide to hold you captive.

In my case, I can tell you exactly when my PTSD has acquired enough strength to highjack my wellness. While it may be true that I am often oblivious to the cause, even still, I attribute its source to a forgotten nightmare. Why? Because its symptoms often set in after I wake.

It is under these circumstances when I feel it’s often too late to prevent a full-blown traumatic episode.

All I do know is that when the fog rolls in, its near impossible to mount a defence. This of course, isn’t every time but when it’s especially thick, often, my only option is to hunker down and wait it out.

Not surprisingly, my major PTSD episodes start out with a consistent feeling. A feeling of dread that lingers off in the distance when I first wake. I find it very similar to when I was staring face to face with a traumatic incident; leading me to believe that something dreadful followed me back into this reality.

Full list of PTSD symptoms.

It is for this reason that I feel forgotten nightmares are responsible. I have reached this conclusion because more often than not, it comes for me in my slumber.

It is under these circumstances when I feel it’s often too late to prevent a full-blown traumatic episode; as the fog rolls in, no amount of mindfulness can fight it off. Similarly, I find any other form of therapy ineffective.

Want to read the perspective of another mental health blogger? Go to Encourage Green

Needless to say, trying to navigate my way through this heavy brain fog is difficult at best and completely impossible at worst. Ironically, it’s the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder themselves that are to blame.

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With these symptoms, there seems to be a sequence to them. They are as follows:

  1. A deep sense of dread upon awakening (whether I remember the nightmare or not).
  2. Level 10 brain fog.
  3. An increase of my fight, flight or freeze response.
  4. Thus, turning up the dial of my startle response.
  5. Easily irritated or angered.
  6. Find everything overwhelming.
When the fog rolls in

So, if you were to ask me which PTSD symptom is the most difficult, I would say, in short, all of them. However, with that said, being easily overwhelmed and the inherent startle response, is, without a doubt the ones that put me out of commission.

So, what’s the remedy?

The only thing I can offer in the way of advice if you go through something similar is to do nothing. Moreover, learn to be ok with that.

Despite what we think, we are human, not superhuman and because of that, we must learn to understand PTSD, depression, anxiety and many other mental health conditions are going to win a battle every now and then; that my friend is a fact.

Ask yourself this; Can I have a day here and there to just ride the wave? I’m happy to say that it works for me and it too can work for you. In my case, It’s effective because I feel zero guilt and not an ounce of shame. I’m sick and I’m done pretending otherwise.

Ways to be self-compassionate

I truly hope that the next time the fog rolls in that you will be kind to yourself. The storm will pass and as long as you’re not running away from it every day; riding it out can be the best thing for your mental health.

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

The Results Are In, Am I Healed?

As I entered the final week of the election, where I was a volunteer, I experienced a gradual decline in my mental health. In contrast, the week leading up to the election, I was feeling well, mentally and was well for the best part of two weeks. It was great to be freed from the feelings of threat, stress and near-constant anxiety. I never say it out loud but when I am feeling well I am always so hopeful that psychological tournament has been mysteriously extinguished.

I believe that being off work for as long as I have been energized me enough to try and get back into some sort of everyday routine and as a result, I was excited at the opportunity to test the waters; like a child on Christmas eve, I was so excited to see what a shot of normality would bring. After all, I was feeling better and felt like I had turned a corner. The Results Are In, Am I Healed?

 

Sadly, No, being out of the safety of my home where quiet and feelings of safety reign supreme, the exposure took a hammer and chisel to this happy reprieve from my minds struggles and by the end of it, my startle response was a constant seven or eight and the consequence of exposing my mental health to the onslaught of noise, sirens and constant busy have demonstrated to me that I am not where I had blissfully thought I was.

How to cope with the world when mentally ill

So, what does this experience teach me, teach you? Well, there’s more than one way to look at the experience and its outcome. I could feel defeated at the knowledge that the periods of mental wellness always fades like the sunset as it is overtaken by the night’s darkness, or I can acknowledge that I can’t always have sunshine and roses and understand, that when a period of post-traumatic stress and or depression blanket me in their symptoms, I have little choice but to ride the wave until I hit the shores of calm, happier points in time.

When in the throes of the heavy, exhausting feelings of mental illness, I must keep in mind that I will be granted temporary leave from my mind’s tournament. Perhaps most importantly, I have to be good with that, the way the cards have been dealt.

When I’m able to do that, I feel like I live a fuller, more manfully life because when I’m feeling well I don’t throw myself forward in time by saying, “This good time won’t last.” Instead, I live in the moment using mindfulness 

f 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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