PTSD / Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Community
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561706 tn?1333950874

Triggered years later by my boyfriend's denial

Hi all, I'm wondering if any of you can share about being triggered by other people.  Sorry if this is  a little long. I was the victim of a violent crime a few years ago.  A friend of mine with untreated paranoid schizophrenia held me and terrorized me in my apartment for about 10 hours overnight until I was able to escape.  He raged at me most of the time and threatened to kill me repeatedly.  Our small town judicial system treated me awfully saying I had asked for it (because I knew he had a mental illness).  I stayed in a women's shelter for a month until they caught him.  I've been in counseling and treatment and really doing well in my recovery until a bump several days ago.

Two things happened.  First was that the school where I work had an "intruder drill" where the police trainers used mock gunfire and explosives. The drill was announced earlier in the day, but I didn't know there would be "gunshots.'  In short, this triggered me into shaking and tears despite my knowing it wasn't real. Not exactly a flashback but I was flooded of memories of that night when I also feared for my life.
But worse was later when I told my boyfriend about it and his response was very invalidating: he said, "it's just a drill,"  "you always make yourself feel bad,"  "what do you mean you were almost murdered?!"
    For three days I've been shaking, sweating, sleepless and flooded with detailed memories of that night, the usual stuff.  I saw my counselor, but haven't worked it out with my boyfriend he doesn't get it.  Mostly I've been thrown into a state of Defending Myself all over again.  After four years - I'm so upset!  Does anyone have a similar story or advice?  I want to break up.  I was really trusting myself again.  I didn't expect PTSD to "come back," I guess. Am I naive?  Thanks so much.

7 Responses
675718 tn?1530036633
in December I was in a crazy bin and there was a fire alarm in the first floor where a little kid threw the alarm I also started shaking screaming crying cuz the alarm triggered me. I have PTSD since '94 and I still have triggers going off left and right I go to group therapy take pills and I live in intense fear ever since :)
4190741 tn?1370181432
I am not an expert, but I don't think PTSD ever goes " away"...
We learn how to deal with our thoughts and panic and fears with
theraputic help and sometimes medications, but complete removal of the PTSD will not happen...

I am so sorry to hear that your man is not sympathetic to what you have gone through or are going through.  I do have to say though that I have found many peoples opinions and support fairly similar to how your BF reacted.  It is very difficult for people to understand PTSD and sometimes the response from them is " Get over it. "

I do hope you continue to see your  counselor and keep the lines of communication open between you and your boyfriend...You say that you want to break up with him...Is it because of this one incident or have there been other times where he is cold and distant about your feelings...

I too was held hostage and for years was very angry about what I had gone through...I wanted to " Take it all out on somebody" and drove alot of good people away because of my unresolved anger issues. After years of therapy, this has been resolved, but it took alot of work and committment to myself and my own health...

I hope I helped a little bit..If you have any other questions or want to continue this please feel free to do so...

Wishing you the very best

Avatar universal
This is a difficult situation for you and I am sorry that you are going through this.  I know it feels like a truly lonely spot and I can sympathize with what you are going through.  Here is what I learned about PTSD from my own experiences and those of close family members.

PTSD doesn't really go away.  We can learn to deal with PTSD but it takes a lot of work to put it all into perspective.

Like I said this is my take on the subject and my experiences with coping with PTSD....  The first thing I had to do was to come to terms with what caused my PTSD.  (Repeated mental and physical abuse as a child)  I had to relive a lot of those moments to put them into perspective and had to validate the hurt, pain, and grief this all caused me.  I had to learn that I was not in control of those situations, but that I could start to take control now.  

I had to learn about what triggered my PTSD and had to learn to realize those triggers in advance to try to lessen the effects of what happened to me.  

What was most hard for me to do was to learn to forgive my abuser.  Not forget, but forgive and still hold them accountable.  Until I could learn to forgive, I still held tight on to my anger and my hatred, my feeling like a victim and that allowed me to still play the victim and more or less keep vicitimizing myself because I could not forgive myself.... I hope that makes sense.

In other words, I somehow felt responsible for how I felt as the victim and I could not let go of that.  That kept me playing the victim on a subconscious level and kept me conjuring up the anger and hate towards my abuser and people in general.

I had to come to terms with knowing that I HAD been abused but was not CURRENTLY being abused.  It was in the past and I did not have to keep reliving this.  I had to learn that I COULD move on by taking some control of my life and how I felt... but that required me to let go of feelings that were not doing a thing for me.  The hate was keeping me hateful and the anger was keeping me angry.  

I picked up reading Deepak Chopra.  If you don't know of him, he is a M.D who lives a Buddhist lifestyle.  He explains so many things on the metaphysical level in a way that you and I can understand.  This with my therapy did so much good for me.

I still deal with PTSD, but its nothing like before.  I now know that I cannot control the past or other people, but I can be in total control of how I act or respond to other people.  Knowing that opened the door for me.

I hope this helps.  Good luck to you.
4190741 tn?1370181432
I know of Deepak, he is in very good company along with Wayne Dyer, Gary Zukav, and Thich Nhat Hanh.   Thich Nhat Hanh has an excellent meditation about anger and how we should treat our anger.  It was very eye opening and not at all like we are normally taught.

There have been some awesome strides in neuroscience that prove that dopamine ( the feel good brain chemical) is actually boosted by feelings of happiness, and that once you feel good, it is easier to feel good because your dopamine is already high.  So to make a long story short, the more things you can find to be happy about, the more things you will be happy about, you won't have that high low dopamine drop and rise if you keep gratitude in the front of your mind every day...

You have written an excellent reply to the post...It was wonderful to read it..

Wishing you the very best

561706 tn?1333950874
Thank you all so much for your replies. I appreciate your experiences.  I think that by it's nature PTSD does not really "go away."  I certainly wouldn't expect that for anyone else (we're harder on ourselves). This has been a good time (and with your help) to reflect on what happened to me and how it is actually a part of who I am now.  I think I tried to push it down and away more than I realized.
This has also been  a very important, like, test for myself;  to validate myself that what happened was terrifying despite what my boyfriend or anyone else believes.  It was shocking to hear someone I love and look to for support basically say, "Oh, shut up, it wasn't that bad."  It was really easy to be hurt by that because there was still a small voice in my own head saying the same thing. (And a lot of that was from secondary wounding from law enforcement.)
I'm going to do some reading as recommended.  I've never been into Deepak at all but my therapist is a Thich Nhat Hanh fan.
If anyone is interested, I heard he did a North American tour recently and there are some videos and podcasts out there.  My therapist and I have also been talking about the "Wise Mind" state taught in DBT.  I've been thinking to myself the mantra, "I Am Valid."
I hope there are more responses to this post and I'm so sorry for all your struggles.
4190741 tn?1370181432
If you go to YouTube and type in Thich Nhat Hanh , many many videos will come up.  At first it is hard to understand him, but now , I no longer have a problem with his accent.  There are also many wonderful motivational tapes at Youtube along with healing music and introductions on how to use the healing music. All of this is free to listen to and that is always a big draw for me....


Avatar universal
Talking to my therapist one day early on before I could accept what happened to me, my therapist stopped me in mid sentence.  I was trying to downplay the events that took place in my life and my therapist said, "what happened to you was very real."  

What she was getting to is this.  The crap that happened to me affected me and maybe it wouldn't have affected someone else as much.  As well, what affected that person might not have been a big deal to me.  

Your trauma is yours and it is very real.  Nobody can rightfully judge you on that.  Nobody will ever be in the same situation as you were.  Nobody....Never.... Nothing is comparable.

Your validation comes in realizing that your trauma is real and knowing that you can move on, even if it is one tiny step at a time.  I often look back at where I was in my own mind in comparison to now.  Really I am worlds apart.  What I wanted was some real outside validation.... but I never told anyone my story.  My ego wouldn't let me because I didn't want to look petty, small, weak, etc.  

You're stronger for this and you are capable of moving on.  
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