Willing but not always able.

One of my previous posts covered the symptoms of PTSD. Considering my current position having to cancel events I had pre – arranged I thought it appropriate to mention the triggers which are hindering my progress, especially when stepping foot outside my front door!!!!

Triggers in the true sense are defined as ‘small devices that release a spring or catch and so set off a mechanism – an event that precipitates other events…’

PTSD triggers can happen at anytime and although I can pre-empt some of them I cannot do anything about those which come out of nowhere. The symptoms I experience can be triggered from a particular smell, taste, sound, feeling, situation, person or a thought. I also experience triggers when I place myself in stressful situations.

Some of the symptoms I experience  are both physical and emotional and include: my heart pounding as if its trying to break out of my chest, anxiety, sadness, frustration, fear, muscle tension, tiredness. Sometimes I ache like I’ve done a full workout and I end up so very drained. Then I’m that wound up from being so hyper – vigilant all the time it takes me such a long time to sleep. When I do sleep I have horrendous dreams, thankfully not every night though.

I will use the most recent event I have had to pull out of. I have been attending a stand-up comedy workshop to try to build up some confidence again, get me out the front door and give me some light relief. What I didn’t account for was how much I would panic at the thought of doing it but I thought “I have committed now and it will only help me” so I did it. I was becoming extremely anxious about going into Manchester at night time. I rehearsed the bus times and route over and over to try to plan ahead. I needed to make sure I knew every bit of detail of the journey and the venue prior to the actual night.

As time approached for the first week of training I was naturally nervous as we all were after signing up for a course where most didn’t know each other. I unfortunately had the added pressure of getting there knowing that crowds and noise where big triggers for me.  What I decided to do was to just get out and do it. So with headphones on I walked across the road to the bus stop for the No. 32. Despite the fact the bus stop was almost outside my door I went out far too early so I didn’t miss the bus. It was really busy in Manchester as it was rush hour but I focused on my destination, I didn’t really look up until I arrived. The return journey was just as bad with the stressors around. Once I returned home I was completely washed out and the following day I physically felt like I’d run a marathon! The next week was the same but I thought I could handle it so I nievely volunteered a crew for the Women In Comedy Festival. Most of the shifts I’d been rostered for where in the evening which initially I thought I could do. As time neared palpitations started coming, my chest tightened, anxiety attacks appeared and my sleep was being severely affected. I had to admit to myself that I was just not ready to put myself in that position. I was gutted and angry with myself as well as the military for putting me in this position. I had to drop out of the crew but I will absolutely do the 5 minute comedy stand-up so I can say to myself that I started and finished something at least.
I have been reading Facebook posts from the Women In Comedy page about how much of a great time people are having and I’m absolutely gutted I’m not strong enough to join them. Perhaps I should have gone for crewing during the day to give myself half a chance. I tried to run before I could walk – not like me at all 🙂

I am taking steps to limit the triggers I know about but some I cannot prepare for as already stated. The sort of triggers I’m affected by are blue light sirens, fire alarms (not the bell ones), any loud bangs, gunshots during shooting season. Big crowds of people in pubs, supermarkets, shopping centres and public transport. Lots of noises affect me such as in a pub where they are playing loud music and lots of groups of people are shouting to get themselves heard. I try to avoid people who are having arguments and shouting because it builds on my already heightened anxiety levels. Various news features and TV programmes such as ‘Our Girl’ affect me and although I want to watch them it just brings back too many unwanted memories. Seeing people in uniform & carrying weapons makes me want to be physically sick which was evident last week when I visited RAF Lincolnshire. This list is not exhaustive as various triggers appear unexpectedly, sometimes I don’t even know what’s triggered my reaction.

To cope with a lot of the triggers I avoid busy places. I go shopping earlier, later or mainly online and I always wear my headphones when I’m out and about on my own. I avoid busy bars and do not really go into any clubs. When I start to feel myself having a panic attack I take myself away from whatever has caused it and work on deep breathing to calm myself down. My writing helps me for sure which is one of the reasons for doing these blogs.

I apologise wholeheartedly to people I have let down. As long as I am kind to myself and the people around me are appreciative of this then it can be managed accordingly. I will make sure I venture further into the unknown but slowly. Be patient with me and I will learn to be kinder to myself.


About mitsanuk

I left the RAF in 2015 following 20 years as a frontline paramedic. It has been an amazing career but then found myself suffering because of this. My blog exists as an outlet for me as well as a place for others to read and try to understand the mind of someone with PTSD. Please feel free to make comment on any post and lets raise some discussions on how we can help to end the stigma which surrounds mental illness. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please follow and share in the hope my experience will help others.
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1 Response to Willing but not always able.

  1. Denise says:

    Your doing amazing sis. I know that you want to be better, and every day you try you are getting better simply because your trying. I know you won’t give up, you have the heart of a lion, courageous and strong and so full of pride. Your right to look after yourself, your too important to me and lots of others not to. Take your time and stay kind to yourself Simon and I luv you to bits as well as many others. Your blog is inspirational and I’m sure that your helping many others with your frank and honest insights, keep moving forward, your doing great. Luv you with all my heart, your big sis xxxx


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