Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) involves many triggers, including people, places, things, and anything that effects the senses. The type of trauma experienced impacts the type of triggers and resulting emotions you experience. Triggers can also be experienced by those who experience secondary trauma, including helping professionals.
Triggers lead to specific emotional responses that are based on past, not current, experiences. One feeling that can come up is a feeling of being trapped. This can cause a fight, flight or freeze response. This can be a feeling of being physically trapped or trapped in something, including but not limited to, a relationship, family relationships or friendships, a commitment, financial troubles, addiction, a living situation, or a health condition. Feeling trapped may also occur during sexual intercourse, even if you are willing, if you have a past history of any type of sexual trauma or relationship trauma.
Why does this occur? Many people actually are trapped when experiencing trauma. One example is child sexual abuse- children cannot overpower the perpetrator, they may live with the perpetrator and they often are afraid to tell anyone or are threatened not to tell anyone what is happening. Some other examples are domestic violence, war, kidnapping, and child abuse. Your brain is recalling the experience as if it is occurring in the present, which causes your body to react as if the trauma is taking place in the present, even though it occurred days, weeks, or even years before.
What is the difference between this feeling of trapped that is triggered and actually being trapped? The emotions are the same; fear, panic, anxiety, stress, anger, feeling a lack of control or out of control, fight or flight response. But, the difference is that when you are not actually physically trapped or completely dependent on someone or something for survival, you have options. They made be difficult, or uncomfortable, and it may be that you don’t like or want any of the options, but they are available.
How do you stop responding to situations like you are trapped when you’re really not? The first step is to pay attention to your body, thoughts, and behaviors. The next is to label what you are thinking, feeling physically, and feeling emotionally. Then, determine if you are having any errors in thought and if you’ve felt like this before. Finally, provide rational truth to yourself that comes against the false beliefs you are experiencing. Run all of your options through your mind and pick the best one, and by doing this you are reminding yourself that you have choice. This is the opposite of trapped. Physical work such as breathing exercises, yoga, and progressive muscle relaxation can also be very calming and grounding, and keep you in the present. This helps to immediately calm and ground, and can lessen triggers over time when done regularly.
Having a trauma filled past has led me to feel trapped during a variety of situations in my life. Triggers caused me to continuously feel like I was reliving my past. I could not easily let go of my past, especially when I experienced the feeling of being trapped. Becoming a Christian, trusting Jesus, and knowing that He is all knowing, sovereign, and has a plan and purpose for my life changed me immediately, but it took ten years before I overcome this false belief of being trapped.
I’ve sometimes been angry with God because I’ve had difficult situations in my life, and I believed a lie that God was trapping me. Does this mean I am not a “good” Christian or that I am not reading my bible enough, praying enough, or getting enough counsel? No not at all! It does not mean that for you either if you fall into this category. Trauma takes years to undo, and it is not only etched in your mind but also in your body, which is not an easy fix at all. The key is to continuously work on mind and body therapy with a trained therapist. If you are a Christian, Jesus understands what you’ve been through and your pain. He will continue to help you heal as you pray and seek Him and help you to work through your trauma.
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#PTSD #trauma #secondarytrauma #panic #relivingmypast #letgoofmypast #emotionalhealing