English: A hungry baby yelling and crying. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I’ve wondered for the last 2 years or so why PTSD hit me several years after any traumatic events happened? I have a long history of events that go back to childhood and extend through my Army and Police careers. So, why did it come home to roost years after I left all of those situations behind? Was it lying dormant, just waiting for the right moment to attack? Did something change in my brain that suddenly brought it about?
Here’s my non-doctor guess. This comes from my own trial and error to find things to help myself. Yes, I have gone to a counselor and continue to go to a doctor for care. The counseling helped, the doc does as well. But something is still missing.
So, here’s what I may have stumbled upon. I can say that I’ve felt the urge to yell for pretty much my whole PTSD experience. I didn’t know why and until now I’ve avoided that. I’ve avoided it for several reasons. First, it didn’t make sense. Second, where do I yell that I don’t disturb the whole house and the neighbors too. Third, I didn’t want to release some weird anger that I didn’t know how to handle.
After some brain storming of my past, especially my Army and Police times, I realized that many of the anxiety issues that go with PTSD were there. The thing is that anxiety really never had a chance to grow because there was always an outlet. I was never violent and still am not. My outlet was through yelling. Anyone who’s been in the military knows that yelling is a way of life. When you’re used to yelling and hearing it, you just don’t notice it after a while. But, I’ve been away from both of those careers for several years now. It may not surprise you that random yelling at the grocery store is not appreciated.
Anyways, after some serious self monitoring I’ve noticed that the urge to yell often comes before a full panic attack. And, as I said, I have always squashed that urge fearing it would lead to something else. I really can’t say what I thought would happen. It just didn’t seem like the thing to do. So, to do with the panic attack, I either have to ride it out or take medicine to stop it. If I take the meds to stop it it’s often just a delay and not a stop. But, taking the emergency medicine does provide temporary relief to my emotions.
So today I started having yet another panic attack while at the grocery store. I have a theory on why the store causes this, but that for another post. I recognized the beginning symptoms, so I finished up with what I needed and headed home. Today I tried something new though. I grabbed a pillow, put it over my face and gave in to the urge to yell and growl. To my somewhat surprise and relief it did not lead to a more intense episode. Instead, I felt much calmer afterward. In fact I was very calm. In fact in fact, I’m writing this post only a few moments after I did some good pillow yelling.
It will be difficult for me to describe the feeling, but it was an emotional release. Kind of like the steam valve on a pressure cooker. All at once the stress build up was gone. My thoughts were back to normal and my emotions were back in check. Everything was back to being appropriate for the situation I was in, which was no situation at all. Nothing was going on.
I’m going to give this some more research and experimenting. But, I can say based on looking at my past that this may be the key that I was missing.