Life on high alert

This is another one of those honest recovery posts that forces itself out of my brain, through my fingers and onto this little space just because I need to put it somewhere.

Living with CPTSD is really hard. It gets easier for a while and I’ll be going about my business without much trouble until, one day, it will come back just as forcefully as it did at the start. Recently I went to a shopping centre and, after visiting a few shops, popped outside for a cigarette. I’d felt a little off all morning but nothing that I payed much attention to – some days are just like that. But this time, I could feel myself starting to enter high-alert-CPTSD mode quite quickly without much warning. I could hear my boyfriend talking to me; people around me talking, walking, smoking, eating; the feeling of a hair tickling my cheek; cramps in my stomach; my lip twitch; I can feel the weight of my head; my glasses on my nose; my throat feels a little scratchy; I need a drink; my legs feel weak; I have tunnel vision; I’m starting to shake; the sound of the wind; the smell of LUSH near where I was standing; the smell of smoke; the bright sunlight; a headache coming on; my hands starting to sweat; now I’m lightheaded.

Now I feel dizzy so go to sit down and have a drink. I shut my eyes for a second to see flashing lights against my eyelids – no respite. It’s too much to take in. I need to go home now.

Sometimes it feels like I can’t take everything in or process everything that’s going on around me and that’s when I panic or dissociate. This time it felt like I was shutting down – like you do before you faint, when your vision starts to go. I couldn’t focus on anything and yet my brain wanted me to focus on everything.

I left the shopping centre frustrated and feeling disappointed and cross with myself but that never does any good, so I just didn’t really think about anything. I just sat in the passenger seat and stared at the road ahead. I just wanted to sleep but I’d never let myself whilst I’m like this. Tired but wired. I got home and chilled out for a while, not really moving or thinking, until I thought, ‘I want red pepper hummus.’ And just like that, it was OK. I still don’t know how to completely deal with these random episodes with triggers that I can’t make sense of, but I’ll keep on trying.



  1. October 29, 2017 / 11:52 am

    As someone who experienced this kind of triggers and feelings of hyper-vigilance / high-alert, anxious and messy thoughts, or emotional numbing, dissociations, sometimes one or all at the same time, I know how exhausting these all are, and we may never make sense of it, not when we think we’re doing better and are safe. It’s the nature of (c)ptsd to creep on us, unwanted, unannounced and hit us like that, which sucks, but you still found your best way was to retreat home, to your safest place.

    I’ll DM you a link of a video which may help, as I think links won’t work on blog comments.

    I hope you have calmed down by now from this high alert mode and learned to forgive yourself your apparent failure for which you felt cross with yourself. You have nothing to be guilty of, it’s how cptsd brain works at times, and you don’t have full control over automatic reactions of that sort, hence you wouldn’t have to feel cross with something out of your hands, or rather, out of brain, so to speak.

    Stay strong, and know you’re never alone, and can rely on my support at all times

  2. November 16, 2017 / 4:22 pm

    Whilst I don’t have CPTSD, I can relate to the swift onset of symptoms when one of my mental illnesses rears their head. It truly seems to come out of nowhere, and like you say, when you think it’s getting easier… It’s almost like they can shape-shift – seemingly finding new ways to torment you once you think you’ve found something that works! A big kudos to you for persevering with working things out – that’s the best thing you can do xxx

  3. December 21, 2017 / 4:54 pm

    I’ve never heard this described so well. Thank you for this post, and I hope you’re feeling better every day. 🙂

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