Every time I’m triggered I go through four phases of emotional flux. I’m aware of them. They’re just how the disordered parts of my brain function and aren’t likely to change. The symptoms no longer dictate my life, but they are still present.
Phase 1: The actual triggering event. I’m overwhelmed by any number of things, and it sends my brain into a flash of panic, sometimes but not always accompanied by a flashback memory, and always marked by a distinct shift in mood.
Phase 2: The release of emotions that were brought to the surface by the triggering event. This is usually marked by lots of tears, sometimes screaming, and/or aggression. Before my diagnosis this was the phase that sparked my violent outbursts too. I’m thankful to say that once I was able to get the help I needed I haven’t fallen back into that pattern of behavior. I haven’t had a violent episode since… 2006. At least a violent episode initiated by my PTSD. I broke my hand in self defense after I was attacked, but that’s different.
Phase 3: Self loathing for being stuck in the holding pattern of my symptoms, no matter how much work I put into overcoming them. This is the phase that I most need to work on, and where a lot of my anger resides. I’m just angry at everything about my disorder. I’m angry at the people who’s behavior agitated my symptoms. I’m angry at the people who initiated the disordered process in the first place. I’m angry at myself for becoming a victim, and I’m angry that I can’t escape the parts of my life that I want so desperately to forget.
Phase 4: Grieving, and guilt for my irrational self loathing. It’s healthy that I no longer dwell in phase 3. It’s good that I can recognize the different phases and how to cope with them in a healthy way. It’s all part of the process of living with my disorder, and I know that. Intellectually I know that the blame isn’t on me for being victimized through out my life, or how my brain chemistry was altered because of it. I know all of those things, but getting caught up in my feelings regardless of my intellect makes me feel incredibly guilty. Feeling angry at people for victimizing me still feels wrong. Even in the midst of healthy, non-violent, righteous anger I still feel ashamed. That’s nothing more than growing up in an abusive environment and 18 years of psychological conditioning. I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to overcome that.
I wish I could sustain it. I wish like hell I could feel the anger enough to release it completely instead of getting trapped in this cycle any time something sets me off. That’s the key to all of this mess. I have to get past the shame, and just be angry for a while. I don’t know why it’s so impossible for me to hang on to those feelings of anger. I wish I could figure it out… I wish I could fix it. I can be mad at anyone else, except those who have damaged me the worst. I don’t get it.