I strongly encourage everyone to journal and I’m posting this mess of thoughts to demonstrate why daily writing is such an important tool in managing PTSD. The essence of this journal entry is that I got triggered by something inconsequential, and through writing about my reaction over the course of the day was ultimately able to determine the root issue that caused the trigger.
The following is my own stream of consciousness in attempting to resolve a PTSD trigger. It is not intended as advice or beautiful writing, so please read it with that in mind. And do share your thoughts!
9:00 AM So i just realized my Apple Watch did break when it was dropped at my meditation studio by a staff member 2 days ago. It died yesterday, and I couldn’t figure out why because I had it plugged in all night. Then this morning it was still dead. And now I can’t seem to get it to take a charge. Still trying…
9:30 AM Called them to address it outside of my meditation time, because if it is broken and they don’t pay for the damage, this will become an issue for me, stupid as that may be. It’s a PTSD thing. I’m having a total attack right now.
I’m shaking, my pulse is elevated, my face is flushed and I’m sweating, my legs feel both antsy and weak at the same time, and as though they aren’t on straight (like my feet and knees and hips aren’t lining up at all, but when I look down, they are perfectly normal) I keep alternately holding my breath (released) then gasping for air. This is actually quite a normal reaction to a small upset for me, and from a young age I became an expert in concealing this reaction from those around me.
10:00 AM Only now I realize there is nothing normal about this… Although I do recall the last few years, after my mom and I reunited and prior to being destroyed again, I was almost free of it. Now it is worse than ever in my life, since DH’s and my mom’s joint gaslighting and the videos my daughters published – losing my daughters’ trust, respect and friendship at the hands of my husband and mother’s lies has been the single most horrific event of my entire life. Even if we reunite, the trauma of this will never leave me. Because the truth is, after all of this, I don’t think I can ever trust fully again. The people I trusted most destroyed me for their own gain. I gave them all of me, and they took and took and took and destroyed me when I had no more to give.
10:20 AM Great, now I’m crying. I’m holding it back though. I’m going to go swimming. I don’t know about Qigong. I want to conquer this, but will going make it better or worse? Probably better, truth told. If I don’t go, the residual feelings remain. If I do, they get processed. So quick swim, then I go.
Why is this so upsetting to me anyway? … Well, because my Apple Watch is a comfort to me, it represents my independence, as I didn’t have to get permission from anyone to buy it and DH would never have allowed it. And it is a critical tool for my PTSD, as a voice recorder for journaling, appointment reminder, and a way to find my phone the dozen times I lose it every day. So having it damaged, and being without it for a period of time, is emotionally risky for me – as stupid as that is, it’s a simple fact and I won’t apologize for it because PTSD requires all kinds of creativity and you do what works.
I have set in place probably hundreds of tools to help manage my PTSD and stay mostly symptom free, but it is a delicate balance and I never know which critical piece being thrown off kilter may cause the whole structure to collapse. It’s like depression that way. It’s always right there around the corner, waiting to take you down when you least expect it, when you thought you had outsmarted it, outrun it, outlived it.
12:30 PM Just got back from the pool. Stayed longer to swim more and meditate in the sun instead of Qigong and… my watch has charged!!!!! I did the reset thing I read about online and it worked. Hopefully all is well. The bummer is that once triggered, I still have to go through the healing process. So now I’ve got a couple of potentially sub-par days ahead of me 🙁
What I realized upon returning from my exercise and meditations to find my watch functioning, is that the PTSD reaction was triggered by the perceived betrayal of trust – I trusted the staff with my watch and phone because they required us to check them in and I, as usual, assumed they would have the integrity to remove all possibility of potential damage and they betrayed that trust by dropping it and then neglected to take financial responsibility. This is the crux of the matter: Betrayal of Trust. Great realization to meditate on!
I can’t stand to get nothing done when I’m triggered, but I’m not capable of tasks even as simple as sorting and folding laundry. I have, more than once, spent a full minute holding a hand towel in front of my face wondering what I was supposed to do with it.…So today I spent the afternoon rolling joints (a never ending and absolutely necessary task in this house), watching TED talks, writing, and pondering the above epiphany….The following is where my continued writings and meditations took me:
People are going to let me down. I fully realize it doesn’t need to upset me, and yet it does, on a physical level that my rational mind doesn’t seem able to mitigate with debate. Now that I understand this reaction is caused by PTSD, I can use my arsenal of meditation and tapping to retrain my brain in those situations. I can now add “betrayal” as one of the emotions to scan for when determining the cause of an episode of elevated anxiety, panic, depression or dissociation.