PRIMARY TRIGGER: Anything that relates to danger: perceived or actual.
So that ‘s a lot of triggers for me because anything can become a threat when you have PTSD.
- A log at Publix (a grocery store in the southern part of the US) -because the log reminds you of the fire and burning bodies you saw that just happened to be aflame as you drove by after picking up your daughter from church,
- A raised voice from your family member – regardless of whether or not they’re just plain exhausted from the drama in your home because of our adopted kids trauma… Trauma drama. It’s real!,
- A man walks into a room – (not the beginning of a joke) but it is so startling that you jump like you were held up at gunpoint. But the man is your husband and he is holding a banana,
- A “look” – that last time you saw was right before your daughter shoved you and ran out the door, police came and you now dealt with Baker Act number ??? #losttrack.,
- The same “look” – because you have zero idea what will set your child off sending her running in a bipolar rage, #tickingtimebomb,
- Someone approaching from behind – because you have been attacked from behind. (The worst is being attacked from behind while driving yet being determined to get the other child in the car to his soccer game.) So you become particularly un-fond of any activity behind you,
- Going to Civil Court for proceedings related to your daughter’s dependency case- because you have been falsely accused by DCF and failed by the justice system,
- A drive down PGA Blvd. – because you are physically reminded that in that Starbucks plaza, your husband was driving through the parking lot with his chai tea during the botched sale of a vehicle, saw the silver truck with the doors open that ended in an active shooter situation and minutes later you were both evacuating a field with hundreds of scared soccer moms, soccer players, soccer siblings etc
- Also on PGA Blvd, the former home of that girl who plotted a cyber bullying attack on your daughter so graphic and threatening that you reported it to the police – your daughter’s offense: Telling “friend” that she needed space from the drama but encouraged friend living off PGA that the girl “was going to do amazing things.”
- I could go on…
Triggers are the sights,smells, sounds, feelings, or thoughts that send the brain into FIGHT FLIGHT or FREEZE MODE. We were designed to survive and thrive. The response of the body’s parasympathetic system..is to release large amounts of protective chemicals into bloodstream or brain to ensure safety for the brain’s host. The senses pick up information from the environment and the properly functioning brain determines if the info is a real threat.
The PTSD brain often overreacts to sensory info. The PTSD brain reacts to surroundings like there is an imminent catastrophe at hand…. WAY TOO OFTEN.
And when survival mode kicks in, all manner of logical thinking is effectively shut down. By design, blood flow is re-routed to essential life-sustaining functions like hearing and sight, smells and perception. I find that wildly interesting. The heightened sense of hearing that makes one hypervigilant in a PTSD response-to-trigger is the same brilliant-by-design gift that saves our lives in dangerous situations. Being able to acutely hear an intruder or a mountain lion is wildly helpfulwhen under attack, not at a zoo. Thank you God. Brilliant design. Good on you God. (He is very wise.)
Buuuuut… If thou art triggered and not actually in danger, the state of hpervigilance is extremely exhausting and not so good for say, attending court or living in a house where trauma-driven children daily make very poor, sometimes, unsafe decisions that could hurt you or your other children. Years of living in a state of hypervigilance as you straddle the gap of protecting your other children and trying your hardest to love mentally unhealthy kida creates quite a challenge. For me, it was the perfect storm to spawn the hurricane of my PTSD.
AND NOW … Life with triggers that lead to executive functions of the brain shuttung down…