Let’s talk about responses to trauma, such as flight or fight. These may be the ones that nearly everyone in mental health is aware of, but did you know that there are four and some form hybrids? Learning your triggers can help you identify your trauma and move through it more easily.
I learned about these in a book called From Surviving to Thriving. It gives so many great ways to deal with C-PTSD that I recommend picking it up yourself. Now, here are the types and a brief description of each. Remember that you may need to notice what is triggering. It could be in your subconscious, and therefore it can hide in the files of your mind. It could just be an emotional flashback, so these responses kick in.
Fight - showing aggression or any violent behavior that may get you out of that situation.
- This could be where uncontrollable anger comes from trying to escape a trapping situation where someone won’t let you leave, causing you to push or hit them so that you can get out.
Flight: wanting to escape a situation that is triggering your trauma. This can give you an intense, unbearable feeling of feeling trapped and needing to get away by any means possible.
- This is something that I have dealt with recently. The power of the need to leave, to survive by getting out of a situation, is indescribable. It can be created from a simple argument to nothing at all.
Freeze: Dissociation is typically shared with this trigger.
- Your brain blocks you from feeling and goes into autopilot. Meanwhile, you can function, but you can’t do anything. It is like you are a zombie moving through life or a ghost watching your body from the outside.
- Something is triggered, and certain parts of your day are blank or apathetic. You become a robot numb to the pain.
Fawn - think people pleaser.
- That is what this is in a nutshell. A pushover. Doing anything you can to get out of a traumatic flashback situation, even if it means catering to your abuser.
- It can be a word or movement that brings up a memory, and suddenly you believe everyone is the abuser, and then you step into doing whatever you can to make them happy. Even if they were pleased to begin with.
Hybrids - any of these can be combined to create a mixture. No single response is particular to one trauma or one trigger.
Can you relate to any of these? There are ways you can combat these responses and these triggers, but a therapist would better equipt with most of that. I advocate for therapy because, while finding a good therapist is hard; it is astonishing what that healing can do when you go through with it. This is coming from someone who refused and protested therapy. I mean it when I say you have to find the right one. This is hard. And the process itself can be excruciating, but worth it if you can find one that suits your need. I will make a post later about how to find the right therapist. For now here are possible ways you can help yourself.
- Some ways you can get through these responses is to make something that typically calms you down or helps: walking, music, movies, books, videos, etc.
- Take a deep breath for four seconds, hold for a few and slowly exhale through your mouth. Do this five times or as often as possible to help calm you. This technique can lower your heart rate and, because of that, can reduce your anxiety and panic.
- Ground yourself; what’s around your room? Name 5 things of 5 different senses.
- Examples: I hear the fan and conversation in the other room; I see the red textured walls; I feel the keyboard beneath my fingers smooth and hard; I can taste the Boost I just drank for breakfast, the chocolate still coating my throat. I can’t smell anything with a sinus infection, but I think you can get the point.
- Say them out loud. These bring you back to the here and now.
- Don’t overwhelm yourself by thinking of what is around you. Name the first thing, and it doesn’t have to detail (fan, red wall, keyboard, Boost, candle)
- Reassure and validate yourself with positive affirmations that you are okay and that the people in your support system are not trying to hurt you but help you.
- This feeling will pass
- I am safe
- People do care and love me
- I am important
Types of Therapy
- CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) This therapy is widely known to be the most beneficial for trauma survivors.
- DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy) is best for personality disorders. It is important to note that those with PTSD can also have personality disorders.
- EMDR (eye movement desensitization and Reprocessing) is another therapy that is good for trauma.
- EFT (emotionally focused therapy) is good at regulating your emotions attached to your identity
- Group Therapy- great if you prefer to be around others who can relate to you in specific ways.
*Please note again that I am not a medical healthcare provider, and it is best to discuss the right therapy with a qualified professional.
Often, these feelings or responses are projected on those we love negatively because of the difficulty of coping with and processing them. Unfortunately, because we trust in our friends and/or family, we may feel safe in lashing out at them, trusting them not to react negatively or, in some cases, hoping for the same adverse reaction they are used to. However, this is emotional abuse of them to get emotions out, and there are many other ways you can do this without hurting those you love. Some of those are mentioned above. You need to release your emotions, even a little at a time or they will build until you release the fire in your veins.
If you find yourself in one of these responses, try to go somewhere private where you can be alone, like your bedroom. Getting away from the triggering stimuli can help you rationalize your emotions logically. This is not a flight response, as you are in control; this is where you can take time to calm down and assess why you are feeling this way and what might have triggered it. You cannot get past or avoid your triggers if you don’t know your triggers. And yes, you can avoid those triggers. Not all of them can be “fixed” or “disappear” They may remain, and you might have to work around them to keep your sanity.
I hope you like this blog, and I look forward to your thoughts below. If you are interested in a particular topic, please let me know in the comments or contact form. And remember to share this with on your social media accounts, family, and friends. I hope you have an alright day. Not every day can be great, but maybe we can find at least one good thing.