Tag Archives: hyper vigilance

Lesser Known Signs Of Trauma

When you have experienced trauma in your lifetime, in particular repeated trauma, it’s going to affect you.  Some expected signs of trauma in a person are things like depression & anxiety.  There are a host of other, lesser known signs that can be extremely disruptive to a person’s life.

Hyper-vigilance may be the most common sign of trauma in a person’s life.  It happens often in a person who has lived with their abuser, such as the child or spouse of the abuser.  Living with an abusive person means you must be on your guard at all times, so you don’t do anything that upsets the abuser.  That hyper-vigilant behavior often stays with a person long after they have ended the relationship with their abuser.  It also leads to a host of other problems.

Physical pain in victims of abuse is often a sign not of an injury or illness, but of having experienced trauma.  In particular, this pain often manifests in the neck & back.  This is due to living in a hyper-vigilant state for an extended period of time.   Hyper-vigilance causes your body to be in a state of not only emotional but physical stress, & that can cause physical pain in spite of there being no injury.

An extreme startle response is also caused by having to be in a state of hyper-vigilance.  It manifests as being drastically more startled than you would expect to be in a specific situation.  This startle response often cause anger or even tears in the startled person.

Sleep disturbances is another common sign of trauma in a person’s life.  Nightmares that either relive the trauma or trigger emotions similar to those experienced during traumatic episodes happen often.  Waking up often during the night or struggling to fall asleep in spite of doing things to help even including taking sleep aids are also common.  Some people can wake up throwing punches, because they are so accustomed to protecting themselves.  This happens with those suffering from PTSD who have served in the military or those in law enforcement.

Being too busy is a trauma response that many people employ.  These people will keep themselves as busy as possible during their waking hours.  They work long shifts, participate in many activities & rarely take time to just rest, even when they’re sick.  They do this as a way to avoid facing their pain.  If they don’t have time to think, they also don’t have time to think about their pain.

Similar to being too busy is losing yourself in activities.  Staring at social media or watching tv for hours is another way to escape facing pain by focusing attention elsewhere.  While neither is bad, doing so for hours on end is unhealthy, especially if the one doing so is unable to stop.

Eating disorders can be another sign of unresolved trauma.  It is a way to regain some control when a person feels like they have no control otherwise.

Avoiding places & people that remind a victim of past trauma are more trauma responses.  No one wants to face reminders of pain, of course, but those who have been through extreme trauma will go to great lengths to avoid it.

Avoiding conflict is very common in those with traumatic pasts.  When abuse happens during conflict instead of dialog designed to work things out, it instills fear in a person about conflict with anyone, not only the abuser.

If you recognize yourself in some or even all of these symptoms, hope is not lost!   The more you deal with the trauma in your life, the more these unhealthy patterns will break.  Not overnight, but they will happen.  Keep working on your healing however works for you.  Pray, write in a journal, talk to a supportive friend or therapist… whatever you do that helps you, keep on doing it even if you don’t feel like you’re making progress.  Healing isn’t a simple thing.  Sometimes it looks like nothing is improving, then suddenly you make big progress.  Other times, you’ll slip back into old, dysfunctional habits.  It’s ok!  It’s just a part of the healing journey.  Don’t give up!

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health

Anticipation Stress

During a conversation in my Facebook group, I mentioned how for years, my father would call me later in the evenings, up to 10 sometimes, usually just to complain about my mother.  Emotional incest isn’t the best way to end your day!  Plus, being an introvert & talking to people a lot during the day, nights are when I want to avoid people.  I want to relax with hubby, maybe some music, tv, or a craft project. I also get up early & don’t want to be awake at all hours.  I explained this to my father & although he said he understood, he clearly didn’t.  Not only because he lacked empathy but also because he was very extroverted.  He continued his calls until I was at my wit’s end with it.

As a result, one evening, he called at 9:58.  I decided to ignore the call.  He called back several times during the next twenty minutes.  About half an hour later, one of my cousins who lives 450 miles away called.  I almost ignored it because I had a feeling my father put him up to this.  Since he never calls so late, I thought what if this was the one time something is actually wrong?  I answered the call & found out it was my father’s doing.  He called my cousin asking him to call me & have me call my father.  We got into an argument because I refused to call him that night.  The next morning, my father called before 7.  He shamed me for not taking his call & blamed me for making him worry so much that he had to call my cousin & my in-laws.  I was livid yet in spite of that & knowing he was being manipulative & controlling, I felt guilty.  This was on top of already feeling anxious because he clearly thought he had the right to “barge into” my home anytime he wanted via the phone.

This happened in late 2014.  The conversation in my group about this incident made me think of something… I wonder if me having such trouble falling asleep is connected to my father’s upsetting late evening calls.  It could be that my brain still expects my phone to ring at any & all hours to deal with a very stressful conversation.  Logically I know it’s impossible.  My father passed away in October, 2017.  I have no other narcissists in my life, so there isn’t anyone left who would do this to me.  Yet, it happened for a long time & I naturally became “programmed” to expecting late & upsetting calls. 

The dear lady I was discussing this with came up with the term anticipation stress to describe my situation.  Thinking about it, I believe this anticipation stress is pretty common with victims of narcissistic abuse.

Narcissists can be quite unpredictable & they use that to keep their victims on a state of constant high alert.  The more a person is in that state, the more willing they can be to do anything to end this misery.  This means they are more susceptible to being controlled & doing the narcissist’s will.

Even if the narcissist is no longer in the victim’s life, when something miserable happens repeatedly like in my situation, the brain may get stuck in a place of expecting some sort of stress.  It seems to me it’s somewhat like hyper-vigilance.  With hyper-vigilance, you’re constantly looking for signs of any potential danger.  Anticipation stress is somewhat like that, except instead of danger, it’s a stressful & unpleasant situation. 

Unfortunately at this time, I don’t know how to release this anticipation stress, but I absolutely will share anything I figure out!  In the meantime, I hope it helps you to understand what is happening if you are going through something similar.

Sister Renee of Luke 17:3 Ministries is the lady who coined the term “anticipation stress”,  so I’d like to provide a link to her website.  Please check it out.  She is an amazing lady who shares a lot of true, Godly wisdom on the topic of narcissists & surviving their abuse. 

http://www.luke173ministries.org/

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism