Archive for February 6th, 2009

One of my biggest frustrations in dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is getting triggered but not knowing the cause. I have been dealing with this for my entire life, and it really bothers me sometimes.

For example, I was having a pretty good day. My son got difficult, and I felt triggered but could not exactly explain why. I felt a strong urge to go off alone and cry, but I didn’t. Later that evening, after he had gone to bed, I felt an overwhelming compulsion to binge eat that I could not fight. I could not tell you why – just that I had to get as much food into my body as quickly as possible. By the next morning, I was completely fine.

I have reached the point of generally being able to tell that I have been triggered. That is a step in the right direction because I used to not be able to tell. I would feel a strong emotion and then look for a cause. Once I identified a “cause,” I would fixate on that reason, even though it really had nothing to do with why I was triggered.

These days, I can generally tell that I have been triggered. If I can identify why, then I know what to do to calm myself. For example, if a trigger reminded me of a fearful time, I remind myself that I am an adult and have the power to protect myself. If something triggered anger, I will give myself permission to release my anger about a particular situation. If something triggered sadness, I will comfort myself and find ways to meet those unmet needs.

However, all too often, I have absolutely no idea what triggered me or why. All I know is that I was fine one minute and then I found myself free-falling the next. When I cannot identify the cause, it makes it really hard for me to “fix” the problem. That is when I wind up leaning upon old standbys like binge eating, even though I do not want to go there anymore.

I wish I had a way to know each time I was triggered what the problem is and why. It is so frustrating to continue having my environment drive my emotions while I am left in the dark wondering why I am completely freaking out.

Related Topic:

PTSD and Cycles of Emotions

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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