What the 'Stress' Part of PTSD Looks Like for Me

Author’s note: This was written to illustrate the process following being triggered by news reports of assault.

What does the “stress” part of PTSD really look like? Why do trigger warnings matter?




I experience a sweeping feeling of uncontrollable exposure. Who knows my story, who might connect this to me? I know I have no control.


What stance is this article taking? How will people like me be spoken of? What will this change?


Who have I been forced into being now? How does it affect how I think and react?

The next stage of panic could go several ways:


If my mind follows the “terror” and “memories” route, I shake. My knees become wobbly, my shoulders tight, everything on me feels wrong. It’s as if I’m trying to shiver off all I know shouldn’t be there, but I can’t, because it will always be there. I can’t cry anymore

“Brain tangle.”

This is more like internal shaking. I lose sight of what’s up of down, nothing seems logical and I forget quite how I’m supposed to exist. During these “shaky” periods, all communication seems taken from me. Talking is very unlikely or it’ll at least be stuttered. Any typing is a jumbled heap.

These attacks leave people unreachable. They make victims and survivors feel isolated and forever changed.

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Thinkstock photo via ARTQU.

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