Life has been easier lately. Less stress all around, even though not much has changed to an outside observer. Same house and Hubby and kids and job. Same activities. Different thoughts. I am thinking so differently from before, as every event no longer proves I am worthless.
I am taking much better care of myself, and allowing my needs to be known. I am changing my world to fit me, rather than feeling trapped in a world that scares me. I have limited the PTSD triggers I encounter on a daily basis by simply asking others to behave differently around me. It took me 9 years of having children in my house to realize I could ask them to change. It took me 18 years with Hubby to realize I could ask him to change.
These changes are so tiny, but have made a huge difference in my overall stress level.
With PTSD, I startle very easily. A quick or loud sound or movement will cause symptoms in me like I had been shot. My heart races, I get cold and sweaty, I scream – loudly, I jump, I tense up, I have trouble breathing, I get dizzy, sometimes nauseous. And these effects would last for hours, sometimes days as I recovered from that one second startle. Fight or flight had me imprisoned in the ups and downs of my own nervous system.
I’d like to say I am trigger-free, but I am not. But I am considerably trigger-reduced! (PTSD light?)
Here is the list of some of the requests I have made:
- I asked my 4 year to stop hiding and saying “Boo!” to me. I explained that even though he thought it was fun, it wasn’t fun for Mommy, and made me feel kind of sick. He said he just wanted to be funny, not make me sick, so he has stopped this.
- I asked my kids not to suddenly speak loudly around me, especially not behind me. I used nearly the same explanation as above, saying that I am sensitive, and we all have different bodies, so to be kind to me they can be a bit quieter. They are, of course, kids, and will still go completely bonkers on occassion, but not as often, and they stop sooner when I ask. Sometimes I just have to hold up my “Stop!” hand (Like the Pointer Sisters) and they take it down a notch.
- I have asked my whole family not to touch me – sometimes. I tell them that I need some time not being touched for a bit, but I would love for them to sit next to me instead of on me.
- I have asked Hubby to warn me before coming in for a hug or smooch. He actually started saying “incoming” before approaching, and it is so funny, but helps me not to startle and freeze up, and instead accept and return his affection. Geez I love that guy. But now I feel loved instead of attacked.
- I have asked my Mom to stop dumping negative vibes on me. If she emails them, I simply don’t respond. If we’re on the phone, I tell her I’m not in a good place to listen to that right now. She backs off instantly, or she knows I will end the call. Boundaries!!
- I have asked Hubby to allow me plenty of cuddle time before bed time. I have found that even though I am filled with desire, I can’t respond quickly to his advances without fear, triggers, or flashbacks overwhelming me. But if we take it slow, having close, but non-sexual contact for about an hour, I feel safe, warm, and ready to respond naturally. So he’s learning he needs to sit with me on the couch and watch some TV before giving me those bedroom eyes. It’s OK, I now know I’m worth the wait. 😉
Actually that is the main idea here, is that I now know I am worth whatever little trouble these requests may cause. At first I had no idea why I felt so much stress and pain. And then when I identified the triggers, I just felt helpless and trapped in a life full of them. Now I know I have the ability to make these little changes and feel safer in my own skin. Life is much easier when you can avoid pushing that Red Alert button all of the time.