Stress Sensitivity and PTSD

Hi peeps, it’s a rare and special time when I get to blog these days, though I think of it (and you) often. Things are going quite well over here. Life continues to be almost completely mad, but somehow I’m mostly holding it together. I’m continuing to juggle the WT and the PNT, and I’m learning heaps, especially from the PNT who’s approach is completely different.

One thing I’ve noticed, particularly in the last week, is that my stress tolerance is much lower than it used to be. Apparently stress sensitivity is relatively common among those of us with PTSD. That’s kind of a no brainer, but isn’t something I’d really thought about or consciously (mindfully) experienced before.

My workload and the never ending pressure at work has been increasing exponentially over the last few weeks. Last week it hit the point where I couldn’t even tackle anything. I was completely paralysed. My to do list is so long all I could do was just stare at it. I’m not sure what caused this. I guess it was fear. Of what, exactly, I’m not sure. Not getting things done? Not getting them done on time? Getting into trouble? Oh, and then there was the presentation I had to give at a client training day last Friday. Ugh. Have I mentioned I have a pathological fear of public speaking? Well, I have a pathological fear of public speaking. 😉

Seriously, that alone was enough to tip my stress from ‘just about managing’ to completely paralysed… and, along came all my old “friends” – my PTSD symptoms. I was a triggery mess, flash backing all over the place, having nightmares and dissociating like crazy. 😦 I haven’t been like that for a while, so it was a bit of a shock to the system, yet strangely familiar.

It made me realise a couple of things I thought might be important (the PNT said they’re really important). One: my baseline isn’t as highly strung as it used to be. I used to be stressed like that all the time. And I mean: All. The. Time. I didn’t even know I was like that, but I was. I was a jittery, heart pounding crazy woman; literally running on cortisol and quickly spiralling out of control. Apparently I’m more relaxed now than I used to be. 🙂

The second thing I realised was that not only am I not like that anymore, but I also don’t want to be like that any more. I much prefer it when I’m NOT feeling so stressed. Who would have thought? 🙂

So what do I do with this information? I’m not sure. It’s obviously important. In a few ways, actually. First, it’s important that I’ve realised these things. And (possibly more) important that I even noticed them. Probably shows I’m not as out of it as I used to be a degree of mindfulness. Or something. Second, it seems important in a ‘how I want to live my life’ kinda way, although it’s really all too new for me to understand what that means, or what that looks like in practice, and how I keep it that way. Definite progress on both fronts, I’d say. 🙂

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7 thoughts on “Stress Sensitivity and PTSD

  1. New commenter here. 🙂

    I bet you’ve heard before that most people fear public speaking more than they fear death? I had so many situations in school when I was younger where I had to speak in public that it doesn’t terrify me anymore, but I do shake like a leaf! Work stress is so hard to tolerate, though. It’s the busiest time of year at my work and it just makes you want to crawl into a corner and forget about the world. It’s great that you can see progress from where you used to be. I’m the same as you – I used to be in a constant, triggery place. Now it comes and goes. Anyway, it’s awesome that you’re able to notice progress. I think with things like PTSD (at least in my situation) it takes so long to move past some of the symptoms that it can seem as if no progress is being made until you’ve eventually reached that point. If that makes sense. 🙂

    Take care! xx

  2. Hi Kerro,

    I think that you have come a long long way. This reminds me of a quote from the movie Star Trek 6: The Undiscovered Country. If I’ve changed around the quote, apologies. “Knowledge is the beginning of wisdom, not the end of it.” ~Spock. It seems to me that you have come a long way into the area of wisdom. Good for you.

    Good and healing thoughts to you.

    Kate

  3. Hi Kerro,

    Although you’ve been having such a rough time of it, with stress being heaped on you… it really does sound like you’ve made huge progress in healing. You’re able to stand back enough from it to see what is happening, which is huge progress. Then, to be able to think through how you’re going to address that stress, and make positive changes… just 🙂

    It’s amazing how we get used to living with that level of stress, and then when we move to a healthier level (which is still probably too high), we wonder how we ever did it… Even wonder if we’re “weak” for no longer being able to cope with that stress. But coping with impossible levels of stress doesn’t make us healthy, or strong… it destroys us over time. I’m really glad you’re moving away from that stress, and into a healthier place.

    Take care,
    CG

  4. Hi Kashley – thanks for visiting, and for commenting 🙂 I’m really glad you can also notice progress. It’s really hard when you’re stuck in that triggery space and feel like no progress is being made – or ever going to be made. Thanks again for dropping by.

    @ Kate – Thank you. 🙂 I wish I had the words to say how much your comment means to me. I’ve always looked up to you in the healing department – kind of like you’re the Master and I’m the Grasshopper, if that makes sense. So a deep, deep thank you 🙂

    @ Castorgirl – Thank you, too. I confess to shedding a tear or two when I read your comment. That stuff about getting used to living with a high level of stress is so so true. As is feeling “weak” for not coping when the baseline reduces a little. You’re right, it does destroy us. I’m glad I’m not letting it destroy me – it feels wonderful and liberating but scary and alien all at the same time. ((hugs))

  5. Hi Kerro,

    Lol. Okay.

    I kind of like the analogy. It is such a compliment. That is totally okay that you see me like that. I treasure the thought that you would think that way about me. You honor me.

    When I was a teenager I used to love that show. Now that I am older I know how much a teacher receives from a student and I think fondly of those two as a pair.

    You are so brave, and true, and honest. You have such an intensity to your seeking a life and an understanding of life. I guess you do remind me of Grasshopper.

    However as much as I treasure you feeling that way about me, I see you very differently. There are at least a dozen survivor bloggers that I would consider a peer. You are one of them.

    Good and healing thoughts to you Grasshopper.

    Love you,

    Kate

  6. Hope things get better – stress load-wise. I’m just coming off of the summer’s flex hours at work and have decided i’m never doing that again! yipes, that was stressfull (4 ten hour days and the 3 days off) I’ll miss the 3 days, but not the head pounding 10 hours of fast pased work.

  7. Hi Ivory, thanks for stopping by, it’s nice to ‘see’ you. I’m sorry you had extra stress over the summer. Funny how sometimes things prove more stressful than we imagine. I always thought working long hours like that would be fun, given you’d have three days off. But I know now that’s not the case. I couldn’t do it. I can barely stand being in the office for the hours I’m meant to be there, let alone extra ones LOL

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