Even positive events can trigger trauma memories sometimes. This week, the hashtag #metoo flooded social media accounts to demonstrate the widespread problem of sexual assault and harassment. We witnessed a multitude of voices share deep-seated shame and anxiety associated with trauma. Whether through a simple #metoo or a painful story, we unloaded our burdens. While freeing for many, the hashtag could have triggered trauma memories for some.
Post Traumatic Stress - Treating Anxiety
I'm sharing this deeply moving, powerful short film not simply because abuse is a topic around which there cannot be too much awareness but because anxiety doesn't come from nowhere. Abuse isn't the only cause (there are many, even if you have been abused) but the effects of abuse are inseparable from mental health, whether or not you have a clinically diagnosable mental illness.
Sometimes I get woken up by anxiety-causing nightmares which isn't so odd, what with the PTSD n’all (Understanding PTSD Nightmares and Flashbacks). Full-on sweating through my pyjamas in a very non-sexy manner nightmares, so what do I do? Rollover and go back to sleep. You might be tempted to ask why I cope with nightmares like that, but I doubt I’m alone in the answer.
Fear denied, repressed, suppressed, or put out of mind is not fear extinguished. Treating anxiety: 'as if' I've been told that acting 'as if' I'm not nearly as anxious as I am is a helpful thing. It's also dangerous. As with almost any technique sometimes is fine but if you're anything like me and you'll do whatever you have to do to be able to put your anxiety aside and function, and if what you want is to go on with as much of life as you can, uninterrupted by fear, then it can become destabilizing.
Happy is what brings healthy, and viceversa, so it can't be that much of a surprise anxiety and depression have had some pretty rough consequences on my health; High blood pressure at 25, on-and-off flings with anemia, near-constant sleep deprivation. I may as well have an imp bouncing up and down on my kidneys whilst someone tells my nervous system to pump out all the stress hormones its got, so I can feel normal, or at least prepared. Like a Girl Scout on crack. That's PTSD hypervigilance for you. It's also that sometimes our bodies express what we are otherwise unwilling, or unable to say.
On acceptance, anxiety and guilt Life with mental illness isn't always fun. Not just because I have a real illness, and that real illness really does affect my life but because some folks have trouble accepting this. I'm not entirely sure why except they don't like the thought that someone with mental illness can "zomg, look just like them," and still be quite unwell. That's the thing about invisible illness: Once revealed, people around you may feel conned, manipulated, lied to. Even though you've done nothing wrong. Yeah, I'm guilty of being unwell in the general vicinity, of having mental health issues and having a life anyway. Sorry about that. Next time I'll wear my "mentally interesting" t-shirt so you can detect the crazy, before it gets in your Coke. *passes the tin-foil hat*
Even after all this talking, and doing, fixing, and mulling-over, and redoing, I still find that I go through stages of really, really disliking dealing with myself, all this: the anxiety. I worry about the things that maybe I can't fix. That's potentially the hardest thing to face about the words which preface my diagnosis; It isn't PTSD. It's 'chronic, severe' PTSD. So you see, there's really no getting out of it. I can't say, "well, I only have a little post traumatic stress," or "Anxiety only gets this bit of my life!". It gets rather a lot, actually. And people with anxiety disorders don't get nearly enough say about it. Not. nearly. enough.
I come up against this wall plenty, in treating anxiety: Combating the sense of hopelessness, of powerlessness, that only too often accompanies the worst symptoms of anxiety disorders. How do I not get stuck when simply feeling things seems way above my pay grade? "If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself." -The Art of War
Is panic emotional pollution? Running on adrenaline, cortisol -the fear center of the brain staging neurochemical warfare on your nervous system- is the equivalent of climate change. It's dangerous. It's doing your whole system damage you can't even see: Forests for trees. Anxiety: I can't stand it anymore Anxiety alters the way our minds and bodies respond to stress so that it's harder, in the long term, to return to a state of calm and restfulness. I can't stand it anymore. If you have an anxiety disorder, you know what I mean.
Have you ever felt safe? Maybe that seems like a stupid question, and if it does, consider yourself lucky is about all I can say. My therapist asked me something like it once, and I ended up triggered, taking a 20 minute tangent via Intellectuals 'R Us to pick up a freakin' clue. Look hard enough at most things in modern life and they are pretty scary. Panic: Life = risk? Life = risk? Is that as good as things get?? Well, catastrophizing ever so slightly less, life = many things but in amongst them, inevitably, is an element of risk.