(A Woman’s Guide To Reclaiming Wholeness After Sexual Abuse)
Blog and Podcast Show notes
By Simone N
For a more in depth discussion, check out the podcast episode for this blog, to listen.
Are you always stressed out, anxious and worried?
What is Delayed-onset PTSD?
Is there a possibility that it has something to so with your stress levels?
I can hear you saying that “It’s about time you made an episode about stress, Simone..”
Well here it is. And I agree,it must be spoken about because it’s so necessary. Stress is something we all combat, not just survivors of sexual abuse.
Although, because we are survivors, we especially need how to effectively (and healthily) deal with, and manage stress. The reason I say this, is through research, and studies, as well as my own personal experiences (having gone through trauma), cause us to have more of a sensitivity to stress. This is called stress sensitization.
This directly relates and ties to PTSD, which will be discussed shortly. But first, let’s talk a little about stress.
Stress by definition (in the context to how it affects the self): is the emotional and mental tension and strain; as a result from some difficult or challenging circumstance. In my words, very simply—there is too much going in, and not enough coming back out. This can relate to, or is what can manifest as worry, anxiety, frustration, anger, etc. What needs to be emphasized is that stress is not necessarily (in this case) and outside or external happening, but our own response or reaction to something in the form of stress. Stress is created within us; it is something that we consciously (but don’t know we do it because it’s an ingrained habit within us) do to ourselves.
Stress by another definition, in a slight variation of it , is to apply pressure, or tension to something; usually in this sense it is insinuated to be something of the physical kind. Something that comes externally, so it of a different significance and meaning.
What is to be drawn to attention here in the context, is what is going on in our mental and emotional states. Even though stress originates and takes place in the mind, it can, and does affect our physical bodies, overall well-being, and because of this result it manifests in so many ways for so many people. Long term stress wreaks havoc on the body, created all kinds of ailments, sicknesses, diseases, and of course destroys happiness, peace and optimism.
As detrimental as it is to our well being, and is something that we should strive to eliminate from our lives, it is not to say that you should be this super being, and should not , or cannot feel stress at anytime,under any circumstances. At some point or the other, the issues in life can be very overwhelming; and poses a great challenge to resist the feelings of stress. The conflict arises within our being in these times when the ego flares up; the patterns of thought and emotional responses are so deep and powerful that we forget, or are unaware that we can choose how we think, and feel. Even if we are aware at some time of our patterns, it becomes difficult to change our impulses, thoughts, and or feelings toward difficulties.
A lot of time, persistent dedication to control and master our thoughts, change the patterns, balance our moods, ultimately render the ego powerless; bring our self to maintain a state of pure consciousness/awareness, where nothing external can affect us negatively. We are completely at peace. This is absolutely possible, but very few attain this level, because it is so difficult.
Now let’s talk about PTSD and Delayed-Onset PTSD, and how it relates to our struggles with stress.
So what is PTSD? PTSD stands for Post traumatic Stress Disorder. It develops for one who has endured an extremely distressing (traumatic) event; natural disaster (home wreckage), war, rape/sexual abuse, near death encounters, etc. This is a disorder that derives from trauma (a extreme form of stress), mentally, emotionally affects you; the way you respond, react, and conduct your life.
Let’s look at the main symptom of PTSD or PTSS (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome):
- Flashbacks, nightmares, disturbing memories/feelings of the traumatic experience or event
- Feelings of danger , threat, not feeling safe. With these strong feelings of danger, it can come through as anxiety, worry, agitation, and anger
- Restlessness, agitation, easily startled physically; overactive nervous responses, hypersensitivity. Relates to the above point
- Disturbances in sleep, insomnia, all the above points can create this scenario.
- Aggression, anger, irritability, persistent negative feelings/thoughts, and beliefs of the self, others and the world
- Depression, hopelessness, and despair
- Isolation from others as a result of difficult feelings, and not feeling safe, distrust for others
- Avoidance of anything reminding you of events/ and people (which can cause the isolation, above point), places/locations, physical objects)
- Trouble concentrating/ focusing, fogginess, memory lapses
- emotional numbness
PTSD usually occurs (according to studies) within a month of the traumatic event; the symptoms can persist for years to come, although it may depend on each individual and their healing process.
I’ve discovered recently, to my surprise, of something called Delayed-Onset PTSD, or Delayed Expression of PTSD. For some individuals, they don’t immediately (within a month) experience these symptoms, but, six month or years later can experience these symptoms; which is the qualifications it as delayed.
Although these symptoms occur late, or much later, it is not to say that some aren’t felt immediately after the trauma. However, what distinguishes the Delayed-Onset from the PTSD, is that later on (six months and beyond) the PTSD symptoms become more severe or numerous; can be thought of a crescendo in this regard.
What also needs to be mentioned is that with Delayed-Onset, sometimes, the individuals have the symptoms that they don’t notice (perhaps mild), and then a situation, event, or major change stirs up these subconscious cues of trauma(triggers), causing an upheaval of severe symptoms, and can struggle to deal with it years after that.
All of this is to say that, perhaps the stress (anxiety/worry, panic attacks, mood swings, irritability, anger, insomnia) that you think is deriving from your current circumstances/situation/problem, really is your triggered response (thoughts, feelings, physiological responses) from a previous time.
Sometimes extreme stress, and your inability to handle it, can be an indication that you are (still) dealing with some form of PTSD. Anxiety and worry, for example, and the severity of it; your ability to think the worst of things, can be this too. There may be other symptoms that particularly cause problems for you, to take into consideration, pertaining to this subject.
PTSD symptoms (in your present moment) are a part of a stress disorder, and are triggered by stress, so this creates a vicious cycle that we cannot see or recognize many times. If this turbulent cycle of stress perpetuates, it can affect our bodies and health on a real physical level, causing all kinds of problems.
Sometimes adrenaline fatigue can occur. In pat 2 of this episode/article, I will speak about it’s effects our health, how to manage and heal it, and what we can do to lighten our stress loads in our mind and bodies.
Check out the next article: Dealing With: Stress, Delayed-Onset PTSD, And Adrenaline Fatigue (Part 2)