I scream everyday

I am not a thrill seeker, not an adrenaline junkie. I have too much adrenaline in me at all times. It never settles down. My body and brain are always on high alert. Nothing I do can change that, it seems.


I scream everyday. I don’t mean I raise my voice and yell or lose my temper. No that isn’t. I speak in barely audible tones actually. I mean I scream. The scream of someone who is startled, frightened, sent into panic.

My kids are used to this response and are careful not to sneak up on me, but it doesn’t matter, no one can be careful enough. I am still going to jump and scream about something.

Generally it is when my back is turned and someone says something I don’t expect behind me. That will get a short AHHH, my heart racing, I nearly fall over, brace myself on the counter or wall or chair or whatever is near. I can’t see for a second as I recover, then when I see it is my dog, or kid we all laugh it off. I have learned to laugh, although honestly I don’t find it funny. The fear I feel is real. I laugh so the other person doesn’t feel badly and take my condition too seriously.

If someone unexpectedly touches me, my reaction is even stronger. I scream a bigger, longer, louder scream almost like a howl AAAOOOOHHHHH and I move, run, duck, lash out or some other defensive move. I have hit Hubby – good thing I am not strong. I have pushed the kids away, thankfully never hit them, as I retreat. I have hurt myself, bad scrapes and bruises, as I retreat so quickly. I have bumped into objects, like walls, chairs, railings, bedframes, whatever is between me and the scary thing that touched me. I have lost my balance and fallen too.

I don’t feel like I am anxious or near panic before these events happen. There is not time to breathe and prevent this reaction, they are over so quickly. Like when someone jumps out and says BOO or a snake suddenly crosses your path. You react. I do this all day long, every day, in my own house. I can’t remember not doing this.

But here is something interesting. I remember my mom doing this.

I remember my mom being jumpy. Screaming at silly things, startling if you walked into the room, even if you didn’t say anything. I remember my brothers picking on her, actually playing tricks to make her scream, like bringing in tree branches and saying “look mom, a snake!” I never thought those tricks were funny. I was always careful to be quiet and say “Hey Ma” as I came near so as not to sneak up on her. I hated when she screamed.

But I never thought much about this, about these memories of her until now. I am now of course thinking that she also had PTSD, when she was the age I am now. That she was worn out and frazzled by her abusive husband and whatever else happened to her that I don’t even know about.

I’m also thinking, I wonder if this can have a genetic component. Because not everyone gets PTSD. Some people can endure torture and recover without flashbacks and nervous breakdowns and excessive startle responses. Maybe our nerves were already wired to be sensitive. Maybe I would have always had migraines and ulcers and a high stress body but the repeated traumas put us in full blown PTSD. I don’t know. No one knows. Just some thoughts I had.

10 thoughts on “I scream everyday

  1. Highly Sensitive people do this. Elaine N. Aron has several books on being a highly sensitive person. It isn’t a flaw; it’s simply the way we’re wired. Add PTSD to being highly sensitive to start and bah. There are other authors, as well, but I’ve read Elaine’s book and found it helpful. She also has a website. hsperson.com

    • Thanks for the reference. I think I have read some her stuff before in my quest for understanding. Yes I may have been born highly sensitive, really not sure. but you are right about adding ptsd. bah

  2. I felt so sad, and jumpy, reading this. Almost from the beginning I was thinking, me too, PTSD… it’s like living in a bad dream all the time.

  3. I had these thoughts today too. Am I just wired to startle easily. Is it JUST the PTSD. Was I always easily startled. I scream too! Same thing. Then I thought of the seizures. Are those because of my nervous system on overload bc of the PTSD and just something pushing it over the edge or is that just a seizure. How many things are connected to trauma and how many things are just things about me. Had to share this only because I was just thinking it today and now I’m reading your post and it makes me wonder even more . So thanks for sharing!

    • Yes I think it is all related somehow. My neurologist said so many of her patients have ptsd and trauma in their history. My migraines are seizure or stroke-like, I take anti-seizure meds. I get many of the same effects as seizures, with aura and mood, and sensitive to light, sound, smells to trigger episodes. I am not sure we will ever answer all of our questions, but I think it is good to ask them anyway

  4. Oh boy do I get this. Hugs. Judy introduced me to the book about highly sensitive people and my counselor seconded the opinion that some people are more aware and more easily startled. He added it wasn’t a crime. I did choose my most dangerous startle reaction and took years to desensitize it. (If anyone grabbed my wrist, the desire to destroy said person was almost overwhelming. After years of wearing bracelets, I don’t like my wrist grabbed but I won’t destroy the offender.) Hugs. You are not alone. If one of your children were startled, how would you treat them? I suspect with comforting and tolerance, do the same for yourself. (Advice given to me by my counselor.)

    • Yes my counselor uses that line often as well, the “what would you say if one of your children did this . . .” because I can usually find compassion easily for them and only intolerance for same behavior in myself. I think I could have been a hsp, a normal variant perhaps, but my reactions now are no longer on the normal spectrum which is why mental illness or cptsd comes onto the scene. It is good you found a technique to desensitize your wrists with bracelets, I can only imagine how difficult that must have been, all the hard work.

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