I know that with my version of PTSD, there are little triggers that set me off. Its always seems that as soon as I have learned all my triggers and how to mitigate them, a new one will rear its head with a whole new set of problems. I try to rationalize my way through it and try to use the knowledge I have gained from the other triggers to lessen the effect but I know it will take time. Time and experience are the only way for me to dampen the trigger into a controllable place. Some of you that are reading this might be thinking, well what in the world would a civilian find in their little civilian world that would be a new trigger to PTSD. Quite frankly, just about anything can do, even just the change in habit or schedule can act as a trigger for a sympathetic response. What was my new trigger, a puppy. I know how ridiculous it sounds, a puppy triggered my PTSD. Not so much the puppy as his presence in the kennel in our room last night. That extra noise, the breathing maybe even the heartbeat elevated my level of awareness. I slept as I did when I was over there, just barely below conscious.
I heard every noise he made, every breath he took, I had dreams about the dog because my brain wasn’t fully asleep. I woke several times from thumps he made on the cage and began the scramble for my gun. Its strange how a baby animal can freak me out so much, I mean really what’s he gonna do gum me to death. And yet there I was in a heightened state of awareness. I wonder if its not so much that he scared me as he is a puppy and perhaps I was worried about him. Either way he had my 6th sense of paranoia rocking last night.
So How to begin to deal with it? Well first I need to add him to the routine, the mental check list. If there is ever a bump in the night I go down the list of possible normal reasons, girlfriend, lola (our other dog), the pipes, the floorboards… I will cruise down my list and as long as another noise doesn’t happen and it falls into one of these things I am out like a light. I have done this for so long I tend to do it subconsciously. Now I need to add Bolt (FND) to the list. This will take some time and thought. The next thing I need to realize is that Bolt isn’t a threat but an asset. He has ears like satellite dishes and I am pretty sure he is picking up CNN right now. I need to realize that in the coming weeks he will become part of my little fire team and let me know when something is wrong. This should make me at ease with him. The third and probably the most simple and yet difficult one, is to chill out. Its a puppy, how could a freaking baby animal throw me so off kilter. Its a statement like that, that makes you realize how jacked up you really are. So I covered how to deal with a puppy as a trigger, how about the rest of the wide world? It has been the same habituation process for all of them. Add it to the assessment list, remove it from the threat matrix, and tell yourself to chill the hell out. All new triggers can be approached this way, even if that trigger is sleeping under your legs right now. How do you deal with new triggers? Can you think of any as weak as my puppy trigger, lol? What was the last new trigger you encountered?
There are going to start being more authors here shortly, and so we will now start including a “by line” like so.
By Dan “Wild Man” Wilden 31B2P/ Army, MP, Sgt, Airborne