Now that I explained a bit about what triggers are, I’m going to point out some of my own triggers. One of the huge problems with PTSD is that it cannot be categorized into one or many boxes. Each individual needs to discover their own triggers and their own methods of dealing with those moments. People who have PTSD from a traumatic relationship situation have no idea what those who got their PTSD from a combat situation and vice versa. A short story on this is I remember when I finally admitted to my family back home that I had been diagnosed with PTSD it was a huge deal for me, I did not want that to get out outside of family and it took a LOT for me to post that in a closed group to them.
My family did not understand the way I expected them to. They did not react the way I expected them to. This sent me off the deep end of the pit of anger. I was livid, and one of my family members expressed that they could understand and they were dealing with PTSD too. I was furious! Like that moment everyone dreads, telling that special someone that you “L-word” them (yes love) and they do not give you the same in return. I felt foolish. I felt naked. I felt that I just poured my guts out only to get “that sucks.” My wife Dawn got mad because she had been trying to get me to seek help for years by now. I finally admitted that there was a problem and nobody understood the weight of this. It caused some issues between family members and myself and my wife. But, everyone who had an issue was defending the ones they loved.
Saying that I can tell you in retrospect, my expectations were too high and unreasonable. I did not think so at the time but I have done a lot of meditating on this and sorting out things logically. How could they have understood? I have experienced things they will never know. I did this voluntarily so they would not HAVE to know. Why on earth would I expect them to know this? I might as well expected my daughter to come out of the womb walking and talking. It makes no logical sense. When you are that far into this demon, you cannot see the big picture. I got angry, very angry, for no reason. By God help you if you told me there was no reason.
I told this short story first because I want to point out that a family member has the same thing from a different cause. I got offended that she even brought it up, that will make more sense in another post when I discuss my initial opinion of PTSD when I was new in the Army. You see though, there were things in my family member’s life that I did not know. I think though that some of the other members in my family thought I did know these facts. I did not. My mother called me up and explained that I was wrong and explained how I did not take that family members issues seriously enough and I should realize other people have trouble in life too. Oh I was pissed off. Again, I should not have been pissed off. This family member lived close to all my other family members. They all got to experience some of the difficulties with everything that was going on because of this PTSD. I could not relate to their PTSD and they could not relate to mine. I’m not writing this book so that everyone can read it and know how to handle PTSD. That my friends, is completely irrational. No, I am writing this to “spew out” all of the ugly, all of the shame, all of the anger, and self-doubt that I have gone through over the past few years. I want to show that there is a method to the madness to take control back and to have a better life. I want to SHOW you by leading from the front and exposing all of the ugly in my story so hopefully the reader can find something that they can relate to or laugh at, and come to the understanding that as an INDIVIDUAL issue the only way to get better is to take individual ownership of beating PTSD.
My triggers, I will spread these out so I do not end up writing a novel all in one post. One of the first triggers I can recall is obsession with locking things. I would lock doors, safes, cabinets, and then I would double check, and triple check, and I would make one more round before I could go to bed and go to sleep. Seriously, I was literally pulling patrols of my own house and vehicles. My wife would always (and still always) leaves her car unlocked, and I would go absolutely bonkers. Oh dear Lord, I would go off on my wife when I found a door unlocked. I was not joking or playful about it either. An unlocked anything was asking for death of us and our children. I do not know how my wife took the verbal abuse of me freaking out over a lock. We were living in a small town in a neighborhood where everyone knew everyone. There was no need for me to be such an asshole to my wife. She never left, and she never quit on me. I cannot say I would have done the same for her especially while doing the non-treated PTSD thing.
My counselor had me come in one day to discuss triggers and I explained to her the locked door thing. I told her I had to ask my wife because I could not think of anything that would be a “trigger”. My counselor laughed at me. I proceeded to tell her my wife said that I lock things too much. My counselor asked how often I lock doors, and which doors, and why. I had it all justified too. I lock doors because my wife cannot lock a door. She leaves everything unlocked and we are just inviting some badguy to come into our house and do bad things. My counselor asked me how long I lived in that neighborhood, I said a couple of years. She asked me if anything had happened to that house that would backup that we needed to lock things? I thought about it and no, I had no real situation, just my preparations for worst case scenario. I told my counselor I had to check multiple times because I never knew when or if my wife went outside and forgot to lock the door on her way in. My counselor called me out on this one, saying “you mean to tell me you are paranoid enough to lock a door 3 to 4 times and you do NOT know when people enter or exit your house?” Damn! Well when you say it that way yes I know when everyone comes in an out of my house, I have accountability of personnel at all times and know where they are. It’s important to me to have a count. (BAM there’s another trigger but we will save that for later) She got me. Point goes to the wife and counselor all my justifications could understandably work for locking the door once or if I used the door lock it again, but not as obsessive as I was with locking a door. That was an issue.
More triggers to come… Thanks for reading #PTSDDaddy’s Triggers.