Triggered

I’ve worked through everything in this CPT (Cognitive Processing Therapy) group which, by the way, I am just about to graduate from. I thought I was getting better. A couple of weeks ago I was triggered by something another vet was describing about her experience. Memories from my own experience started flashing through my mind, and feelings, and sounds. My body physically shook. I couldn’t control it. … I had a hard time grounding myself so I could keep listening to her. In fact, I don’t remember really hearing anything she said after that. I was too busy trying to get myself back under control. It took awhile, but I managed. It turned out okay.

Tonight though. Damn. Tonight I was in a conference call  with other organization members addressing the needs of a woman vet who’s MST (Military Sexual Trauma) experience was similarly brutal to mine. There were questions about her behaviors, which I knew were consistent with someone who has been through this experience so I shared that I had been through this also (without going into details) and that I also had PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and that it was common and legitimate that she might exhibit some of the behaviors she was exhibiting, etc.

We made the decision that I would be the one to primarily deal with her via conference call (along with only one other member on the call, so she wouldn’t feel overwhelmed or “ganged up on”). I’m fine with that. But then someone started going on about her story, questioning details, almost blithely describing details that for me had been gruesome and brutal and painful. … I had to yell “I’m sorry I have to get off here.” And I punched the hang-up button on my phone. My whole body was shaking. Again with the memories flashing in my head.

I’m still shaking. I can’t get this shit out of my head. It’s been four and a half hours and still my body is in knots. I thought if I wrote it down it might help, nothing else seems to be working right now. Got the headphones on, cranking up the tunes.

One and a half hours LATER:  How many times can you smash your head against a brick wall before the wall moves? None. That’s not the wall moving, that’s your head caving in.

I’m feeling a little better. But I still can’t shake off the memories. And now I feel depressed. Or maybe that’s sad. Who knows? It’s been so long since I felt anything much besides numb, it’s really hard to tell. Someone please tell me I’m not alone in that.

One hour LATER:  It’s 0404 hours. I think I can go to bed now. Except I’m starving. Dogs are so loyal! My buddy’s laying on her bed in my office, snoring so loud I can hear her through my headphones, when I know she’d rather be upstairs sleeping in the big bed. How can you not love that?

Stuck Point

This week I’m supposed to fill out the Challenge Beliefs Worksheets on Trust, for my Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) group. I’m getting the feeling this may be the first time I show up with my homework not done. It’s getting harder because every time I try to work a “stuck point” my mind has already zipped through it and it’s not a stuck point any more.

Obviously this is the week for trust. Which I do and don’t do. I have plenty of reasons not to trust people given my history. On the other hand, I pretty much give people the chance to hang themselves (and usually more than once) before I decide whether they’re trustworthy or not. It’s not like I test them. I just am a little choosy what I share with most people until I get to know them well. But then, aren’t we all? Who goes around waving their arms and yelling, “Hey, over here, yep, crazy family, yeah, PTSD, yep, I’m nuts, yep, step right up and let’s be buddies, right here … uh, why are you running?” Most likely, the runners are depressed and can’t handle all that activity. I also do not normally lead with my income level, religion, political affiliation, or other controversial categories of information. These tend to sort themselves out in subsequent subtle conversational cues as time goes on.

But let me explain the worksheet and what I mean by “stuck points.”

I can’t remember how to define a “stuck point.” (I told you I have memory problems.) Best guess, it’s like an irrational belief that you’re stuck on that doesn’t work for you. For example: No one is ever trustworthy. Obviously, someone is sometimes. So your belief is irrational, likely emotional (since it is clearly not factual), and I forget what all else. The Challenge Belief sheets are a great way to work through something when a thought is causing you distress, the thought likely being a stuck point. Here are some more: I can’t do anything right, I’m a total loser, no one ever likes me, I’ll never find a boy/girl-friend, I’m totally stupid, I’m totally unlovable, I’m so broken it’s a wonder I can walk …

Crap. I hate to make shit up just to have stuff on the sheets but maybe that’s what I should do because I really can’t think of anything and I’ve been trying since Friday.

Is “This sucks” a “stuck point?” No, it’s a fact.