What PTSD feels like in crowded places

Loudspeaker, 4-Ways

Loudspeaker, 4-Ways (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I got an invitation from a friend of my mine to an event he’s playing in.  He’s in a band by the way.  I would love to go, my wife would love to go.  But, I can’t.  PTSD will not allow for these kinds of activities anymore.  Some would claim that it’s just my age, I’m 42.  But, it’s much more than that.  I remember clearly, right before I went into the Army, going to an AC/DC concert with a friend of mine.  Obviously it was loud.  But it didn’t bother me.  Now, a mildly crowded mall is enough to make me run.


I’m going to try to explain to you what it feels like with PTSD in a crowded place.


1. Imagine standing in the middle of a crowd of hundreds of people, all of them talking and moving.


2. Now, add in loud speakers very close to your ears that are playing loud and constantly change music and/or sounds.


3. Now, add in a tv screen in front of your face that is switching channels rapidly.


4. Now, add in the feeling that there is some kind of threat in this crowd that you can’t identify, although you are trying desperately to find it.


5. Now, add in the feeling that you and your loved ones are in grave danger if you can’t figure out what to do.


6. Now, add in the overwhelming feeling of a fight, freeze or fight response.


This is a glimpse of what is going on my in my mind and body with PTSD in a standard, run of the mill walmart on a saturday.  There is no threat, but my mind keeps looping back to past experiences and responding to those instead of the present.




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