PTSD Spirituality: Understanding & Identifying Types of PTSD Triggers (Part 1)

If one of my PTSD triggers is activated, how do I deal with it?

In my essays for the PTSD Spirituality blog I often mention “PTSD Triggers” and how they may cause PTSD symptoms to arise.  But what are they?  What types are there?  And, how do I deal with my PTSD triggers when they are activated?

 Triggers Can Activate Happy or Horrible Memories.

Most people know that various stimuli will cause us to remember something that happened in our lives.  When it is a happy memory we don’t even think that something right now in my present “triggered” me to remember something in my past.  If it is a happy memory, we usually don’t find ourselves compelled to engage in negative behaviors.  Given that my PTSD Spirituality essays tend to deal with aspects of PTSD, I usually encounter the idea of triggers as something that activates a trauma survivor’s PTSD.

 Sounds and Noises: For military veterans the sounds of a car backfiring or fireworks can trigger memories of when they fired weapons or people fired upon them. 

 Fireworks and the 4th of July: I have lost count of how many veterans who have told me, or whom I have read about, who can’t stand the Fourth of July and the Independence Day firework shows.  This is ironic as veterans are supposedly honored on Independence Day but it turns out to be a day that re-traumatizes quite a few.  It’s not unheard of for a veteran who is sensitive to fireworks to spend the day in the basement wearing ear plugs and drinking heavily, trying to deaden the sound of the explosives.  Some vets will go out to wilderness or state parks to try and avoid the sight and sounds of fireworks. 

 Air Shows and Helicopters: Where I live, there is also an annual air show where the Air Force pilots who are not good enough to fly in Iraq or Afghanistan on real missions fly over my house instead.  Usually there are  only a few hundred feet between their jet engines and the street.  The noise is unbearable, shakes windows, terrifies my pets, and propels me to memories of places and times I would just as soon forget.

 Some veterans have difficulty with the sound of helicopters as they are usually associated with medevac dust offs, air assaults, or gunships.  Sometimes they can be remembered more politely in terms of mail delivery or resupply.  Given that every ten cent radio and television station in the USA feel compelled to have their own “Chopper One Team,” there are often as many helicopters stacked up over a traffic accident in Milwaukee as there were stacked over a platoon level firefight in ‘Nam (to paraphrase St. Mark, “Let the reader understand.”). While we would certainly waste less gas and have fewer helicopter crashes if media people gave up their status-choppers, in the meantime, they serve to aggravate the PTSD of quite a few veterans.

Screaming and Loud Noises in General:

Some trauma survivors try to avoid loud noises in general and screaming in particular.  While I have noticed this amongst military veterans, I know it is also true of people who suffer PTSD from other causes. 

If a person was around dead or dying children, then the sound of a crying baby, could trigger PTSD symptoms.  If a person was screamed at a lot by someone who had abused them, then they may be forever sensitive to the sound of screaming, even if the screaming or loudness is otherwise unrelated to their initial trauma.  The same goes for slamming doors, slapping, and fists pounding the wall or table top.

Tomorrow, the PTSD Spirituality blog will post Part 2 of Understanding & Identifying Types of PTSD Triggers and discuss how smells and aromas may trigger PTSD.

Semper Pax, Dr. Z

Comments

  1. John Koshgarian says:

    I am a 39 year old Veteran who served fwd deployed for almost 6 years. In that time I did a year and a half tour in Iraq our ship was suppose to be the uss cole that got attacked while fueling up many cooks died. We had let the Cole fuel up before we did I was a cook also on the uss belleauwood . I was also DC maintenance they actually sent me over to help clean up the awful mess. When I got in there I couldn’t handle it so 5 refused to pick up body parts which should Have been me.Non the less after I got out among a few other disabilities which have a high impact of my motivation. and my life My anxiety has gotten really bad been through so many shrinks and doctors that would make anyone’s head spin. I have went 3 times for ptsd evaluation and they said I do not meet the criteria for ptsd meanwhile the loud noises sudden movements and me getting irritated sometimes for no reason. I also Have ptsd from my upbringing and some really bad toxic relationships which cause problems after the fact.I am actually getting treated by a very good psychiatrist (finally) I am really hoping this time around helps me because it seems like it is getting worse. I have a positive attitude about it all. As for the 4th of july forget about it cant stand it its like im back in Iraq. anyway just wanted to share and would love input if someone else has this issue to my extent.

    • Hello John, Thank you for displaying the courage to write about and share some of your experiences. You’ve been through a heck of a lot. It is not unusual for those who had to pick up the body parts of others to have difficulties…it is a horrible thing to have to do. You may want to check in with the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and/or Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) to see if they can help with the VA. Sometimes the people there are very motivated to help, and other times not so motivated, but we don’t know if we don’t try. I am delighted for you that you have a good psychiatrist, that can help a lot in the day to day living and making it easier to be out among the triggers. Like you, I don’t care for the 4th of July. Between the noise and the plastic patriots it can be very hard to endure. I am glad that you mentioned you have a positive attitude, that can make a lot of difference. A good attitude will not make the PTSD stop, but a good attitude will make the PTSD easier to endure. Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  2. Ty Krebs Older Address says:

    I don’t remember ever having sensativity to sound as a kid. Even when I was in basic training. But after I got back from my deployment I had a sensativity to some sounds. I found myself unable to cope with living in an apartment down stairs. People walking around and dropping things triggered anxiety in me. I would get irritable and eventually have to move. I think it has to do with my PTSD. It seems to get worse as I get older. I tried to get help at the va hospital. The doctor keeps telling me the VA cannot afford it. Lol. Sad.

    • Before my military service I would have been okay living in an apartment and hearing the units and their noise. These days, I would have a lot of trouble with it. I would suggest you contact the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) in your area. They can help you with the VA and treatment for service-connected issues. In the meantime you are reading around and getting more informed about PTSD and that is a smart move. Semper Pax, Dr. Z

    • Patrick Olsen says:

      I’m sorry to hear your predicament, however I disagree with you stating that the V.A told you they could not afford it. I’m assuming you’re referencing treatment. That is the furthest thing from the truth. I have been treated by the V.A for the past 5 years to this very day .. Who ever told you they (V.A) cannot afford it is ridiculous. It is a Federally funded Program that deals with every type of disorder associated with the disease, and it gets better and better over time with millions spent in research. I really have to day for myself a veteran the Veteran’s Hospital has really stepped up their game to better the lives of the ones who were able to come home…..If you wish, repy to this message and I can certainly help you OR guide you in the right direction for help … GL to you

      • We’ll , I got my service connection for PTSD. I am so sick of saying PTSD. I call it military trauma. I don’t like being labeled. But I still have this stupid issue. I don’t want to live with this. I want my life back. I am working to deal with it. I know I will never be the same. I was told it will get worse as I get older. As for the VA not being able to afford it. That was told to me by Dr. Mendelssohn at the Roseburg Oregon VA. He held up his hand and rubbed his fingers together and said money the VA can’t afford it.

  3. I was awakened this morning and aggravated with the sounds of a helicopter. I continue to be startled with unexpected noises and the adrenaline rushes. The helicopter noise comes close and than sounds far away. Even after it has left I still hear it. Just go away!

    • That makes two of us! I wish the helicopters were not so persistent as to be pestilent. Even after they have moved on to disturb others, the memory keeps us feeling like they are still there. This an area of triggers that can very hard for others to understand. As we learn the dimensions and sensitivities we can gain some control over the damage it does to us. Yet, the helicopter reminders of where we’ve been can still overwhelm us and cause us to become symptomatic. Some days we are more sensitive than other days. Most helicopters are unnecessary, just for idiotic local TV news. Unfortuantely, most “news people” are indifferent to our suffering. I sure agree with you though, I wish they would just go away. Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  4. when my father inlaw comes over once a week my wife an him start drinking, he gets opinionate an loud, my wifes joins in, i have been thru a abusive childhood with booze ect… awful stuff. I ask my wife to stop the drinking an she defends both of them. i feel this sets off my stress sysdrome. i get alot of neg. systoms an leave then my wife and i fight like never before this all started when his wfie died and he comes over once a week for dinner an polishes off a bottle of wine. what do you think i should do??? dave

    • You certainly are in some difficult circumstances. The drinking and arguments will certainly contribute to setting off a stress reaction. If you are experiencing a pattern of fights whenever your father-in-law comes over, you can refuse to be offended and refuse to fight – that can be very hard to do. Sometimes people who don’t drink a lot will start to drink a lot when they are around a problem drinker because that is the only way they can stand that person’s presence.
      While I am a theologian, I am not a professional counselor. You may wish to do the following things if possible: 1. Seek out a professional counselor or clergy person and discuss the situation with them. 2. As best as possible, refuse to be baited into an argument when they start drinking or become opinionated. If you don’t take the bait that is laid out for you, then there will be fewer fights and thus less stress. 3. If possible, arrange to be somewhere else on the dinner nights your father-in-law comes over. Do so even if it means hanging out at a library or shopping mall. If the scheduled dinners are highly stressful and spiral into fights, then being somewhere else is a safe solution. 4. Start a journal where you can write about these things and how they tie in with your past. No need to show your writing to anyone else, unless you choose to show it to a professional counselor or clergy person. But writing it out will help you better understand what is happening and in some cases can help you feel better and less helpless.
      Again, stressing that I am not a professional counselor, it sounds like all three of you have some stresses in your lives and the situation is already stressed even before the drinking begins. Two of those people use alcohol to cope and that makes things harder on everyone. You are very smart to not resort to alcohol yourself. Give yourself credit for that. I and others will pray for your well-being and also the well-being of your father-in-law and your wife.
      Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  5. oh, da, i found your post on worse case scenarios,
    thanks so much

  6. oh, da, i found your post on worse case scenarios,
    thanks so much

  7. in this last post you made, you refer to having posted it – where is it posted on your site? (about worse case scenarios)

  8. BACK TO WORST CASE SCENARIOS
    I notice that when i experience a trigger my mind will flood with lots of worse case scenarios and i will try to solve every one – i feel such an urgency to do so in order to avert the worse case scenario. I believe this comes from years of living with an abusive husband. It occurred to me that this may also be a side effect of ex soldiers. Do you experience this and if so, how do you deal with it?

    • Hi there, I wrote (probably way too much) about worst-case scenarios and PTSD and have posted it. I see the focus on these scenarios as related to the harm that PTSD does to our sense of safety and our sense of trust. Other people have been interested in this and I thought your comment was the added “ooomph” to get me back to an afternoon of writing. Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  9. What a considerate response! You understand. He retreats to the den and leaves us women together so thats a break. The only problem is that having experienced this trigger, its frustrating to me to need to recoup while I’m wanting to have a nice visit with my sister – all these emotions jammed together is overwhelming. I can’t shift through them that fast. Another hitch is that my Mother may be in denial about it all, and at times my sister too – which makes it really awful to be alone with the healthy knowledge I have. I’m not sure letting them know would always work. I think its so ingrained for them to accept the behavior and work around it that they don’t consider confronting it. Sometimes I just wanna say something to him about it – but that seems like such an uncomfortable thing to do. I was able to let my ex know and I left him. Its frustrating knowing that some of the roots of me staying so long with my ex were planted in my youth. I appreciate your suggestions about taking care of myself through any recoup time I can snag while I’m visiting him, and as always I look forward to any other thoughts you may have. It really is a blessing to share PTSD thoughts with other sufferers!

  10. Let me know when your essay is done and where i can view it. I feel very anxious today because i need to go to visit with family and there are triggers (my father gets bully like) (me ex was violent). This visit for the coming week is nec. as my sister is visiting from another state. When my father gets rude its a major trigger and i feel like i’m back in the violent ex situation). My mom and sister walk on eggshells and i just hate it! Its not right. I feel like experiencing it I agree with it. I just want to run and cannot. Any suggestions?

    • As I complete essays I will place them here on the PTSD Spirituality website. While I know better than to make specific promises anymore when I will have some new writing posted, I am pleased to say that I have written several pages in draft in the last week. I am pleased about that as my employment has been hard on me physically and I have had some of my own PTSD issues to deal with. There are weeks I consider any productive work done beyond my paid teaching means I am a winner. There is still work from first draft to finished post, but I’ll take victories where I can find them.

      A few months ago I told a young married couple that if they did not want to go to the family reunion then they did not have to go. They were concerned that people/relatives would be offended and get rude. I asked if these people were the kind to get offended and rude regardless if they came or not. They said yes. In that case, skip the reunion and know they would never satisfy the others any ways. They needed to protect themselves and one another more than they needed to put up with verbal harassment from some of their relatives.

      Only you know for sure how imperative it is for you to attend to your family get-together. Your situation probably does not exactly match that scenario in the above paragraph. But, perhaps we can find some principles in there somewhere. It sounds from your description that some people are going to be jerks and/or rude regardless. Knowing that coming into a situation can actually make it easier to bear. You may want to consider some “escape plans” if it does get too harsh. Map out ahead of time where you can go to get away for a while to pray, write, cry, or just have a cup of coffee.

      If your father is a jerk, then know some things for sure: 1. He has his own problems he should be dealing with and those problems are not your fault. 2. When it is just you and your mother and sister, it might be useful to tell them that they are not responsible for your father’s behavior (and neither are you) so while it may be tense and harsh when he is present. His absence does not have to be a time when people still cringe. 3. You three ladies can give one another strength and understanding. None of you are to blame for his poor behavior. 4. If his behavior triggers your PTSD and he cannot be relied upon to cease being a trigger, you may have to figure out some logistical way to avoid him. I know this is easier said than done. But, there is no gain in having someone trigger your PTSD.

      If you absolutely must go to this event. Then try to find ways to create some “healthy oasis” opportunities in the schedule. I mean, try to find ways to get out and away periodically so you are not under sustained triggers all the time. Your mother and your sister may also desire some time away when they are not being stressed by the trigger-person. If it is essential for you to be in the presence of a PTSD-trigger person, then try to have some pre-planned get-a-ways where you can recoup, breathe, pray, and heal, before you have to go back into the fire.

      We continue to keep you and your concern in prayer. Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  11. So glad God blessed this! Looking forward to what you have to share.

    • While God does not cause our trauma, God can help us find whatever positive aspects that can be brought from it. We can turn our sorrows (and our joys) over to God. If we choose the Path of life and not bitterness, then others can be encouraged and helped. In my own case it has helped me discover compassion for others and a range of forgiveness I did not know was possible. Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  12. Can’t tell you how much i needed to hear this! Its exactly what i’ve been feeling. When i experience these “triggers” I feel the same feelings i had during the trauma – helplessness, fear, anxiety, anger, and i also feel defensive – as i listen to my self talk i realize i am zooming through automatic alert messages – they’re going to hurt me, they don’t care, I need to act fast to defend myself or I’ll get hurt really badly. It’s important for me to listen to this self talk all the time because its not good to “react” cause that result in undesirable actions. It’s hard to pause and sort through those types of thoughts because they are – by their very nature – designed to protect me (in a fight or flight sense/their urgency is powerful, and the adrenalin is already flowing, so i’m hyped. This is my challenge currently. I agree that being quiet and journaling and praying immediately turning to God with the problem is my best course of action. I also find myself needing to block out sound with my own chosen sounds – usually ambient, relaxation stuff, to tune out the triggers and help me concentrate. It is very comforting to know i am not the only one experiencing this type of frustration. Just knowing that is strengthening. Thank you so much for this blog – I find it very theraputic. Question: I don’t know what people mean when they say God’s grace – are you referring to his “help”? his “strength”, his “direction” ?

    • I started writing a reply to your comment and then the writing took a life of its own. So I am turning it into an essay for the website. Thank you for the inspiration to write. Knowing the website helps also helps me to write past the physical pain. Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  13. My ex husband came at me violently and when my boundaries are intruded upon these days ie. loud inconsiderate people at work, in stores, neighbors) I find i get really tense and angry. Do you experience this?

    • Yes, I do have these types of experiences. Sometimes I force myself to go out and have a cup of coffee at a bookstore just so I keep up some level of socialization that is not connected to my teaching. I always bring ear plugs due to the inconsiderate cel phone crowd. There are times of day that I am more vulnerable to crowd noise and inconsiderate people. I have to make a decision about can I go out or not. The actions of these strangers (too loud, too aggresive, a physical nudge, etc) amplify the PTSD: It is a single act of inconsideration, but it makes me feel like I am back in the trauma that gave me PTSD in the first place. At times it feels as if it is the 50th time it happened that day, when it is actually not. The PTSD keeps us feeling as if the tension and stress never dissapate, thus a single incident feels like the last straw. While it is vital we go out now and then and not become cocooned in our alienation, we must also ensure we can handle being out and not blow-up at someone. Some days, or at a particulat time of day, I am more vulnerable to my PTSD and at the same time more toxic to others. It requires constant self-assessment. We can drain the PTSD pressure by writing, drawing, music etc. If we don’t drain the wound, every single isloated incident will feel as if it is a personal attack. For myself, I write a lot in a notebook and talk to God about it. I don’t expect a magic wand to “cure” my PTSD, but I can ask for (and receive grace) to go on for another day without being over-triggered or becoming a toxic person myself.
      We keep you in prayer. Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  14. Phil 4:6-8

  15. Paul’s statement in Phil 4:6 ….. if we let God know the difficulty, cast it to him, the one that is in control, who loves us (died for us even), who always does what is best for us, who knows all about whatever is troubling you, who promised to provide for all our needs, and let him know our requests, thank him because we know he’ll do the best thing for us and TRUST him, then he promises his peace will come –
    and if i don’t sabotage that with allowing worse case scenario thoughts, and only think what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy, his peace remains.
    I wish you well!

  16. as far as having his peace regardless of the circumstances that i experienced during an especially troubling time in my life, and wondering how to get that peace again – it occured to me recently (after asking Him about it) that the reason i don’t have peace in troubling times is because i’m not trusting him to care for me AND i am allowing myself to think worst case scenarios. Worse case scenarios aren’t really allowed as a believer in Christ, because they are based on what I don’t know to be true and I am to think things that are true. Thought i’d share these insights with you. Almost immediately after recognizing this about trusting him and worse case scenarios, I recently experienced his peace and joy again (right in the middle of feeling really down and despairing.

    • Hi Llily, Thank you for having the courage to share this. One of the real gifts of our faith is the possiblity of being under extreme duress and being in the Peace of Christ at the same time. I think we learn this from Christ on the cross as well as in the many martyrs throughout time. (I still hope to get a essay written on just this topic. Presently i am swamped with teaching, exams, and grading…but I am suppose to get a week off before the next term begins after this one ends) Semper Pax, dr. Z

  17. I agree about the music. Thanks for the info on the headphones!
    looking forward to your thought son the peace of Christ.

  18. clarification on last post – i don’t know how to have Christs peace in the middle of loud situations, slamming, yelling, loud people.

  19. I just came across the sound information out of need (although i’m pleasantly surprised and pleased by it). I loved R & R when I was younger (yeah, i grew up with only 3 channels on tv also). Moody Blues never gets old to me.

    This is really a coincidence because i was thinking of getting industrial type head phones – what kind do you use? Are they over the head type? the really big big ones guys wear on construction sites?

    As a Christian, I was surprised by the reality of experiencing peace in the midst of living with an extremely violent husband. The violent situation didn’t change, yet because of Christ, I experienced a tremendous peace. I don’t know how to have that happen now though – and I don’t know why – perhaps I should ask Him.

    • I actually don’t know the brand name of my industrial headphones. A former student gave them to me as a gift after they had graduated. Their family company had to comply with noise suppression safety standards and thus had to have a lot of industrial ear protection on hand. The style is a big cup over each ear and an adjustable band that travels over the top of the head, connecting the two cups. If I were to go out and buy a set I suppose I would look for something used either by construction workers or people who work on a flight line.

      In terms of music I find there is music that is helpful (or at least distracting), and music which I need to avoid. The helpful stuff is 80s rock or what is sometimes called classic rock and classical. I can also listen and benefit from some Gregorian chant and chant by Cistercian monks.

      Music with violent or demeaning lyrics is a place that is unhealthy for a PTSD sufferer to go, even if I do recognize the temptation to do so. I was surprised to find some instrumental blues could trigger PTSD if I was already feeling a bit down. So in a nutshell, I am rather careful about what I allow myself to listen to. It can be helpful or merely distracting, or it can be destructive and something I need to protect myself from.

      I will attempt to address the question of the Peace of Christ in an essay. That also ties in with Theodicy so I need to find the time and ability to focus on it and do it right.
      Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  20. I think I found something today that works when people are loud and my earplugs aren’t enough to cover – I had used it once in the past and forgot about it. I put in my earplugs and then put earphones over that (the over the head type – not the industrial huge ones) – they were only around $40 or so). I played ambient music and i didn’t have to increase the volume much to have it cover the people who were being loud! I was so excited! I feel really encouraged because I can get anxious if i can’t cover. When I’m not around loud people, I really enjoy quiet, but i also enjoy normal level sounds of daily life. I enjoy being around people, just not loud people. As far as white noise goes, I heard it can affect ones mental abilities somehow (I know that’s a general statement, but I remember after hearing the description of it at the time, I chose not to ever do white noise for very long. I investigated sound waves and discovered pink noise and brown noise (and there are all types of colors for different frequencies) – i like the sound of pink and brown noise best of all. However, I find them unpleasant – like listening to static. Some people may benefit from it though.
    As far as sound goes, I discovered Alpha, Beta, Theta and Gamma wave sounds (fascinating to study) – during which time i came across Theta Meditation System by Dr. Jeffrey Thompson (i found this “renewal two” tune extremely comforting http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0011ZN3RU/ref=dm_dp_trk2
    I really enjoy discussing this topic of sound because i think its extremely beneficial.
    I notice that my ability to hear sounds better increases with quiet time.
    I’m enjoying this discussion and hope to continue it.
    Lily

    • I think you know way more about sound, its types, and its effects than I do. I was unaware that there were the other types of sound colors. I usually have moved from ear plugs to industrial noise suppressors to white noise. My white noise use to be cassette tapes of various types of classical music or 80s Rock. Alas, I am an 80s kind of guy (Sometimes my students don’t believe me when I tell them that when I was a boy there were only three channels on TV).

      If I use something as white noise I have to be careful that I don’t have it tuned up so loud to drown out the loud people that I end up giving myself a headache. Sometimes I just cannot suppress the noise, I am too sensitive that day, and the people are too loud. In those cases, I just have to leave. If there is a screaming baby or a crying child, there is about nothing that will allow me to stay in the vicinity. Certain types of dog barking will have the same results.

      On some occasions, not real often, I am able to pray my way through all of the noise.

      Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  21. Thanks for your reply Dr. Z – we’ve established that wearing earplugs is something we do when people get loud. But what do you do when even the earplugs don’t work because people are so loud? Do you try to cover with music and if so, what type works – I just don’t know how to cover people who talk so loud.
    Also, I didn’t quite know what you meant by this…”we not only have to be careful about what triggers we choose to risk, but we also have to look out for the “normal people” so that they don’t make us even worse.”

    • I am trying to write a reply that will more fully answer the quesions of noise abatement and how nomal people affect our PTSD. I will be bouncing between classes and grading this week but will try to get it done. Your questions are very real and concern many of us who suffer from PTSD. I am interested in the axis between absolute silence (its benefits and its risks) and cover noise (white noise). Dealing with noise and its related PTSD onsets is a very real issue. While I am not convinced I am up to the task, I will try to write about it in a way that is useful. Thank you for the opportunity.
      Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  22. I am a Christian too Dr. Z and suffer with PTSD from an abusive marriage. I have great difficulty with loud noises – like people that yell instead of talk, slamming doors, banging, loud chatter. I too have carried earplugs with me for many many years now – its such a relief to read about someone with the same problem. I also agree that when my stress levels are higher, my susceptibility to my triggers is higher. Using an ipod with ambient sounds has helped as well as nature sounds, but i am particularly frustrated when people that talk so loud and slam around can’t be covered by this nice sort of quiet ambient sound thing – i try turning it up, but then thats pretty irritating. I’d love to share ideas with you and hope to hear from you soon! Thank God he gave you the desire to put this on the web – i certainly don’t feel so alone with this and feel some hope that i may be able to manage it better. Lily

    • Hello,
      I carry ear plugs with me almost everywhere and have a back up set in my book bag. Sometimes I get funny looks from people as I wear them in coffee shops. While most people don’t mean to trigger my PTSD symptoms, many will do just that with their shouting, table slapping, and boisterousness. While I don’t want to spoil their fun, I do not want to be a total recluse forced into isolation either. Earplugs help with that. In fireworks season I may have to employ earplugs and then noise suppressing headphones on top of those.

      One of the ironies that PTSD survivors live with it(regardless of how we got our PTSD) is that we not only have to be careful about what triggers we choose to risk, but we also have to look out for the “normal people” so that they don’t make us even worse.

      I am grateful that you find this website useful. While there is much written on PTSD, I find that much of it acts as if there are no spiritual ramifications. With any luck, more people will be able to validate that their trauma and their symptoms have meaning. So many of us would be so relieved if we did not feel we were swimming against the currents of society’s denial and lack of compassion.
      Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  23. How do I live with everyday noises that seem amplified? Is there something I can do besides medication to help me cope?

    • Hello,
      In my own experience I have found that I am more susceptible to noises as PTSD Triggers when my stress level and PTSD levels are already high. That said, I was very susceptible to helicopters sounds and train engines almost regardless of how latent or active my PTSD was at the time.

      For several years, about a decade, I always had ear plugs with me. I also avoided areas or activities which I knew would produce large streams of amplified noise. The avoidance comes with a risk because the PTSD wants us to become more isolated. I tried to balance that by spending more time out in nature where the ambient noise levels were less. And, nature itself helps to heal us.

      For some people, writing about the noises and how it bothers them can be helpful. By naming the noise you have more control over it. It is always valuable to engage in writing or other forms of craft to help heal our PTSD.

      Lastly, in some cases medications are necessary to keep the extremes of PTSD under control. As you know from reading this website, I am a big believer in prayer. Prayer does not make my PTSD magically go away, but it does help me deal with it better and control it better. I can offer this suffering to God and God and other believers help me carry it, on those days, the pain and fear from the noises are a bit less. I, and I am sure other readers, will pray for you as well. Semper Pax, Dr. Z

Trackbacks

  1. […] Click here to better understand PTSD Triggers. […]

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  3. […] http://www.ptsdspirituality.com/2010/01/11/ptsd-spirituality-understanding-identifying-types-of-ptsd… Explaning how to deal with PTSD “Triggers” and to say ‘triggers’ can bring back good or bad memories. […]

  4. […] that some individuals develop after experiencing a traumatic event such as sexual assault. …PTSD Spirituality: Understanding & Identifying Types of PTSD …And, how do I deal with my PTSD triggers when they are activated? … Given that my PTSD […]

  5. […] a truama survivor.  Links to the first two installments on PTSD triggers can be found as follows: Part 1 with its discussion of noises, sounds, and fireworks as PTSD triggers and Part 2 with its discussion of smells and odors.  Today’s PTSD Spirituality Blog […]

  6. […] the previous post on “Understanding & Identifying PTSD Triggerrs (Part 1)” in the PTSD Spirituality Blog, we discussed how sounds and noises can serve as PTSD […]

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