One of the problems with PTSD is that you can get yourself into a chain of non-traumatic—sort of—memories that make it more likely to trigger the PTSD. You may not know what those memories are; it could be so subtle you won’t remember the trigger, and then things go to hell, and you won’t know why. And of course, many memories aren’t conscious.
You can learn to watch for danger signs, but sometimes the moment can be yanked from you just like that, without you having even thought consciously about the past; recently that happened to me, resulting in a not terribly nice weekend.
The way I usually cope is to keep myself more or less constantly distracted. Writing ((Somehow it seems counter-productive, in terms of distraction, to write about my PTSD; but perhaps not. I don’t know.)), work, reading,
tending my pretend fish on my iPhone and other useful things. Some tasks are more likely to stir memory than others; washing dishes manually, though I really like it, does this for me, and so I end up using the dishwasher quite a lot…
Basically, I’ve learned that thinking can be a minefield of accidental memory traps. It’s easy to accidentally stray and run into the bad memories. But my manner of coping is to constantly displace action, because actually trying to sit and meditate results in stray memories floating in because I’m quite bad at meditating, and then sometimes I get triggered, and then….
Well, it’s a sort of hell I live in when I can’t think constantly about something else totally other than an idling thought process.
Which is why I take Ambien. It knocks me out before the idling thought process gets my head. And sometimes not even then. And probably it’s why I suffer from insomnia; although thinking about my insomnia has led me to realize that a lot of my insomnia can be traced to heightened levels of fight-or-flight response. My father really liked to pick bedtime as a time to terrorize, because my guard was down then. So now my guard naturally picks up when I try to sleep, which is the very very last thing I want to happen….
There are so many dependencies here that it’s hard for me to untangle them. So far I think I’ve covered
– idling thought process leads to subconscious memories
– subconscious memories lead to memories of that hell time
– hell time memories can slip into PTSD
– the length of time between idle to subconscious to hell to PTSD can occur so quickly that it’s hard, or impossible, to “pull back” into the present soon enough to avoid the end of the chain of events
– I suck at pulling back, because it happens too quickly
– distraction keeps my mind from idling and removes the need for failed pull back attempts
– distraction keeps me from practicing meditation
– my sucky meditation leads to idling thought process leading to [see above]
– reflection can lead to conscious memories that lead to hell memories that lead to PTSD; not always, just often
– near bedtime, my guard is raised because of my father’s chosen attack times in the past
– this is a subconscious memory, even an automatic, ingrained reaction at this point
– this reaction is most often controlled by me via Ambien and maybe anti-anxiety pills
– when I can’t take those, the reaction takes place and fight-or-flight feelings/anxiety is produced
– leading to insane amounts of insomnia
– the connection between all of which I’ve made during reflection and the current insomnia
– argh argh ++ Thought Loops Detected ++ Out of Cheese Error. Redo From Start.
I am tired enough now that I think I might be able to go to sleep, although I note that I’m still so tightly wound up that it feels almost impossible to sleep. No anti-anxiety medication can be taken until tonight.
Yeah, it’s been two nights of this. Two nights of hell, but I’ve been through much worse. Of course, it’s not like this is nothing.
Yeah, try to sleep now.
The crazy thing is that my coworkers, when I explain why I can’t take two nights of oncall in a row, think that I’m slacking. Um. I’m not even sure how to even begin to deal with this, but I suppose I need to talk to my manager tomorrow. Today. Whatever.