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?

Terror.

Memories.

Embarrassment.

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

Fear.

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

Shame.

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:

Shaking.

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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