Truths About Trauma: Weird Things

As I have been able to experience a great deal of recovery from PTSD, I have discovered something interesting. Weird things trigger old symptoms.

In the thick of it, PTSD symptoms tend to come on in somewhat predictable ways. Triggers tend to be pretty apparent (once you get to know them). Not to say that PTSD patients are predictable; there are certainly some instabilities. We have to be careful to not assume a reaction will or won’t happen, but part of the recovery process is learning what will most likely cause a reaction and then forming a plan around that.

In recovery, it can be a bit more muddled. Former triggers may no longer cause problems or if they do, it’s sporadic and difficult to gauge. New triggers may arise seemingly out of the blue. And some weird things may cause problems that happen only once. It’s a lot easier to form a plan around what you know is likely to cause a problem.

Also in recovery, one might find that their symptoms are kind of weird feeling. They’re somewhere between an all out reaction and asymptomatic behavior. This can create its own anxiety. Do I say this is a flashback or not? Was that a nightmare? Was I overreacting to being startled? No longer knowing how to label our symptoms can cause us new struggles.

There are no simple answers. I can’t tell you what your symptoms are. I can’t tell you what your triggers are. I can tell you that worrying about it isn’t going to make it better. I highly recommend that rather than trying to form a new, specific plan for each possible trigger you identify, you allow your plans to become more generic. If something causes you stress, acknowledge it with or without labelling it. Then talk it through, pray about it, and let it be what it is. Labels and plans can be a great help, but they can also hinder us when we’ve reached a point where we no longer fit within their mold.

Rejoice in the fact that you no longer fit the bill of your previous symptoms and let the weird things just be weird. You don’t have to figure out exactly what is going on. And understand that having an occasional moment of stress now and then isn’t a setback. No person goes through their entire life free of struggle. Recognize you have a struggle and refuse to let it own you. You are not your label or diagnosis. If you are a believer, you have already been given victory over that label or diagnosis. Learning to live like it is the struggle.