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ANGER & IRRITABILITY -- Here's a summary of what I've learne

Round3's picture
[45685]

ANGER & IRRITABILITY -- Here's a summary of what I've learned recently about this symptom of PTSD. First, I think it's important to remind everyone it is a common SYMPTOM of our ptsd but that does not mean we are not responsible for our actions. I'll try to break up 'paragraphs' with ****. What's happening in the body -- irritability and rage are part of the Alterations in Arousal and Reactivity criteria. With ptsd, the brain can get stuck in survival mode so is in a constant state of fight/flight. It can be just below the surface and low grade, but it's there, so when something happens we very quickly go into full activation. There is a huge chemical dump in your body that prepares it for action. Rage is unprovoked, 0-100, over the top, not proportionate to the incident. For me, I can usually trace it back to a more obvious ptsd trigger (I'm irritable today because I saw a helicopter yesterday). **** What can you do about it? Insight is really important. Unfortunately it takes time and practice to develop. Start with checking in with yourself a few times a day to see how "grumpy" you are. Start implementing different strategies to deal with different levels of "grumpy". For me, if I wake up grumpy and am impatient with the dog, maybe I should avoid my trouble areas (mall, costco). If the grumpy is enough that you are barking at the kids all the time, figure out some strategies to calm yourself down. Take a break. Always have an ipad with you so you can put yourself in time out and put a video in front of the kids (note: I normally don't recommend screen time, but as an intentional intervention it's better than screaming at the kids). For the bigger "I'm about to blow" moments, have a plan with your partner on what both of you can do in those moments. Remember, the safety of your family is priority. It could look like this: [When you see I'm starting to escalate, or when I feel it, you/I am going to say "I need a break". I will then go for a run, walk, punching bag in the garage. You will stop the kids from bugging me.] If you have an agreed upon plan in place, then no one is having to figure it out on the spot. Also, having a plan prevents things escalating and avoids big discussions when you are simply trying to not hit the wall. If possible, save debriefing it for when your therapist can mediate. For me, I prefer being able to come back without any big discussion. I'm already embarrassed and ashamed of myself, the last thing I need is a big deal to made of it. ***** General tips: avoid stimulant substances (caffeine, energy drinks, etc) as they just amp you up. Avoid self-medicating as a vicious cycle develops and things can go from bad to worse real fast. Exercise is amazing -- huge happy hormone hit and it's good for you. This could be part of your daily routine that your partner agrees to manage the house while you do this. A therapist will be able to help you and your partner understand that this sort of self care is not selfish but necessary to maintaining your mental health. Self care with ptsd is not an option but necessary. With that in mind, dont skip your self care activities, even on the good days. It's when we are feeling better that we start slagging off on self care, then things gradually fall apart again. It's better to keep it up to keep your symptoms managed. Finally, eat and sleep healthy. The key is to keep your stress down and develop exceptional coping skills. We are more vulnerable to stress and this isn't going to change. But, by developing excellent coping skills, we can learn counter the stress. **** I hope this helps someone. If this sort of thing is helpful, I can continue posting summaries from the trauma series I've developed (not an ad or self promotion! I developed this program because there are no in-person support groups for emergency responders outside of their workplace. I offer it free and in partnership with my trauma therapist (oversight) ).

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 3
[-45]
Nov 6

insight is very important. its important to know when youre criticizing other for the same things youve been doing to them :)

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Round3's picture
[45685]
Nov 8

@ghoul The insight Im referring to is being tuned into what is happening in your body and to your emotions. This is what drive behavior. When you can learn to recognize the signs early, you can take steps to alleviate escalating reactivity.

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T123's picture
[685]
Nov 8

That is good stuff, thanks for posting it. Yes please post more.

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