Tag Archives: hypervigilence
Hyper vigilance is a term used to describe when a person feels an extreme awareness of one’s surroundings. It’s so much more than simply noticing obvious things, such as if a new person entered the room or if someone else left the room. It’s being aware that & much more. It can be an awareness of things most people don’t even notice, such as if someone had a fleeting expression of anger or someone’s tone of voice changing ever so slightly. It also can include an extremely exaggerated startle response, increased heart rate & fast, shallow breathing, feelings of anxiety & even panic.
Hyper vigilance is a natural part of C-PTSD & is extremely common among those who have survived narcissistic abuse.
When you are in the midst of narcissistic abuse, you learn quickly that in order to avoid the narcissist’s rage, you have to be perfect. In order to be perfect, you must be aware of whatever the narcissist thinks, feels, wants or needs at any given time. To be aware of such things, you have to notice even the slightest change in the narcissist. Even such very subtle things as a slightly raised eyebrow or a transient half smile can clue you in to whatever the narcissist may want from you or is thinking. Hyper vigilance becomes a very useful survival skill with narcissists, because it can protect you from the narcissist’s rage & abuse. Unfortunately though, once the relationship with a narcissist has ended, the hyper vigilance often remains even though there is no longer a need for it.
There are some ways you can cope with hyper vigilance in this situation.
Cognitive behavioral therapy can be very helpful. Talking about your feelings & experiences is helpful, because when you bring problems out into the open, they often lose their control & power over you. You also begin to see the flaws in the thinking that causes your problems in ways you never did before which means you can correct these things. Even if you opt not to partake in therapy, just talking about your feelings & experiences can help, if you talk with only safe, non judgmental & understanding people. Best of all, if you can find someone who has experienced situations similar to yours because that person can understand you as others cannot.
When you feel anxious, stop & take a deep breath. Release it slowly. This simple action enables you to take a moment to stop & regain your focus, plus the act of breathing helps to calm your body.
Remind yourself that you are safe. There is no danger & no need to be hyper vigilant in this situation. Look around at your surroundings & take in what you see. If you’re with someone, ask them for help if you need it.
Acknowledge what you feel. Question it. Does it make sense in this situation? Why or why not? Logic helps to calm emotions, especially emotions that are disproportionate to the situation at hand. Use that to your favor by questioning what you feel.
Medication may be helpful, so talk to your doctor or therapist if you are interested in trying it. Anti-anxiety & anti-depressant medications can be quite helpful. There are many to choose from, so it may take some time to find what works best for you. Also, don’t forget to ask your doctor about possible side effects before you agree to take a medication. There are also herbal alternatives, such as Valerian Root, lemon balm & kava kava that may help to calm your anxiety, & St. John’s Wort & Sam-E for depression.
Hyper vigilance is a nuisance, I know, but it can be managed! Be as patient, understanding & gentle with yourself as possible, & you will see positive results in time. xoxo
Good morning, Dear Readers!
Last night I was thinking & praying. God has given me a few purposes in my life..
- To help open people’s minds (such as with what I have learned about His immense love for animals & how people should treat them, as is the subject of my book “Pawprints On Our Hearts”)
- To show people the damage that can be done by child abuse. Not only abusers in the hopes that they will change their ways, but to victims as well. So many victims think they are crazy or have done something to deserve the abuse when nothing could be further from the truth. Many also think the damage done to them doesn’t matter, because they believe they don’t matter. Well, it *does* matter! Everyone deserves a chance to be healthy & happy. When you acknowledge the damage done to you, you can start to heal.
- To let people know they aren’t alone. There are others who understand.
- To share what I learn about healing with other abuse survivors.
As I was pondering these things, I felt that today I should write to let everyone reading this blog post know that you are truly NOT alone! Many people who read my work have contacted me, & have survived terrible abuse, usually at the hands of their parents. I understand that completely! Even if the abuse we survived was different, the basics are still the same- your parent cared more about his/her own needs than yours, made you feel unloved & unimportant, & only there to fulfill the parent’s needs instead of the parent caring for yours.
And, if you have survived abuse, many survivors have Complex PTSD. Just because you haven’t yet been diagnosed, doesn’t mean you don’t have it. I had quite a few symptoms of C-PTSD my entire life- anxiety, depression, exaggerated startle response, hypervigilence, peridoic insomnia & agoraphobia- but not until the spring of 2012 did almost all of the symptoms fully develop. Symptoms of C-PTSD may include:
- Difficulty regulating emotions.
- Panic attacks.
- Forgetting traumatic events.
- Flashbacks &/or intrusive memories.
- Nightmares (about the traumatic events or not).
- Insomnia or difficulty staying asleep.
- Hypervigilence (intense awareness of the emotions of others & surroundings, looking for danger).
- Exaggerated startle response.
- Withdraw from others.
- Agoraphobia (fear of leaving home).
- Dissociation (the feeling of being outside one’s body, not being all “there.”).
- Anger (turned outwards towards others or inward in the form of self destructive behaviors such as promiscuity or addictions).
- Low self-esteem.
If after reading this, you realize you have symptoms of C-PTSD, if possible, seek out counseling with a counselor who specializes in trauma/abuse. Don’t take it lightly! C-PTSD is a serious disorder, potentially even life threatening. If the depression gets really bad, it can lead to suicidal thoughts. If you get to that point, God forbid! please call 911, a loving & supportive friend, or even the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at: 1- 800-273-TALK (8255).
If you don’t have insurance or the money for counseling, check into your local Department Of Mental Health, or churches. Many offer counseling for free or charge low fees. If that is still not an option for you, there are some ways to cope on your own. That is what I have done, & while I can’t say life is perfect, I do think under the circumstances, I’m doing pretty well. I take valerian root for anxiety, St. John’s wort sometimes for depression, & an all natural sleep aid. I am learning to listen to what my mind & body need- if I need to go out, but don’t feel up to it, I get quiet & see how I feel. If I’m feeling like I can handle it, I go out. If I feel overwhelemed, I don’t go. I will push myself to go out sometimes, but not every time I need to, because that can lead to more problems. It can lead to greater anxiety about leaving home, which in turn makes the agoraphobia worse in the long run. Some days, I find I need a lot of down time- I relax with a movie, knitting, or whatever helps me relax. I have learned the value of getting quiet, & letting God speak what I need to do for that situation. It always comes to me in the form of a knowing feeling. Any time I have listened to that, it has helped me tremendously to deal with my symptoms.