“PTSD Triggers”

I recently had a traumatic event happen. After fighting a fire at my cabin. I realized that it triggered PTSD. I never would have thought to make this connection but now I can.

My upbringing as a young child was incredibly traumatic. There were already signs showing that I had PTSD. Memory problems, always being on guard for danger, trouble concentrating and being easily frightened or startled. Immediately, when my friend came running in and said, “You have to evacuate!” I went into a hyper vigilant mode. My heart pounded faster, my blood pressure rose, my senses became very sharp. A mental list of what I needed to bring to survive appeared in my mind. Sleeping bags, blow-up mattresses, pillows, sheets, blankets, clothes, food, camping equipment, tents, water, toiletries, flashlights. My mind was racing and my physical movements were quick. But as the stress kept compounding day after day, my concentration began to falter, my memory started to fail. I also had troubles with words when I spoke and the right words were slow to connect to.

Every time airplanes started to come down low above my cabin, that triggered it. Seeing the plumes of smoke or fire near my cabin triggered it too. It took awhile after I returned to Seattle to calm down, to feel safe again. When I would see a plane, I slowly started to not be in fear and wonder “Oh my God!”

It made me see that my childhood had led me to react to the fire as a traumatic stress situation. The times when my mother ran after me with a knife, the times when she would drive a sports car with me in it and drove us both into a telephone pole. Put me on constant alert as a child because I would never know what kind of battlefield would be behind the front door of my house when I came home.

Now I know why I am the way I am. I want to be able to balance myself when stress triggers me again. Even in a small way. I want to be able to concentrate. To be able to speak clearly and controlled. To be able to retain memory. To be not in a hyper vigilant mode of behavior. To be normal.

Author: susan

Susan Carr is a professional actress and singer performing in New York, Los Angeles and Seattle. Her film/TV credits include Lynn, Shelton's Laggies, Mike Mill's The Architecture of Reassurance, Rob Devor's ZOO, Paul Sorvino's That Championship Season, The Practice and Gilmore Girls. Susan has written many plays/screenplays that have been performed at Seattle Fringe Festivals, Bumbershoot and New City's New Works Festival. Susan is the vocal coach to many Grammy winning bands such as Macklemore, Alice in Chains, The Head & The Heart, Alien Ant Farm, Mastodon, The President of the United States and new up and coming bands, Hey Marseilles, Chelsea Wolf, and Pickwick. Susan teaches "The Art of Screaming!" The Ballad of Desiree is Susan's first novel.

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