Tag Archives: triggers

Experiencing Mild PTSD

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness or Abuse  (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

Yesterday I had an impassioned conversation with a bull-headed young man. For hours last week and for hours yesterday, I listened patiently to him rant because he is suffering  a terrible, tragic, and unjust loss. He is fragile.

As his friend I care about him deeply.

Yesterday afternoon he raised his voice and started to misjudge my motives. It didn’t matter what I said or even if I remained quiet. He grew louder and more disrespectful and rude. 

Accusations were simply untrue. I called him out on his manner of speaking to me and he suggested I should be quiet and listen.  He insinuated repeatedly he knew what was in my heart better than I do.

Suddenly, I heard myself yelling back, challenging his point of view.  He laughed at me. Standing, shaking, and beginning to cry, I threw him out of my house.  

After he left, my son came from another room and said he had overheard my friend’s loud voice. He was  tuning it out until he heard something unfamiliar.  “What? Is that mom yelling?”

There are triggers to mild PTSD.  I have much respect for people who live with far more complicated Post Traumatic Stress Disorder challenges. Nonetheless, mild PTSD is real.   

A person once said to me, “I would be angry too in [such] a situation.”  My PTSD is not reasonable anger. It is unadulterated fear that directly results from childhood and marital traumas.  I may have good reason for anger, but it is reactionary fear driving the show. 

I’m left tonight with a headache and unresolved agitation.  Fear disguises as anger which is why I can truly say I forgive my young friend and love him, yet do not want him around for a few days.  I have to recover. I’m shaken. My mind has driven to past threats. I’m jumpy at noises and trying to hide in my office in my own home. 

From his texts, it seems he thinks I was merely offended. I’d like to tell him the truth. There is little security that he will listen right now, so there is no sense of safety in trying. 

His PTSD and mine have collided into an unreasonable, tangled mess. I hope he is able to understand that I love him like a son, and cannot see him right now. 

Today’s Helpful Word  

Isaiah 41:10

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”


NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. or go to your nearest emergency room. (for international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours.




Squirrel! How to Distract Yourself from Negative Triggers

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2015  Nancy Virden

n2ngr80My friend has a little dog named Layla, a Dachshund and Chihuahua mix. Layla considers herself a princess (or so my friend informs me), and wears dresses. I’ve threatened to put a pea under the mutt’s mattress to test her royal status, but Layla’s diva-like behavior may be proof enough. 

She will spin around on her hind legs like a circus dog to show me her newest outfit. I have to admit, it’s a cute show. When it is time for me to leave and I reach for my coat, the prancing princess mopes. Her mood shift is immediate. She is distracted from her joy by loss. Aren’t we all? 

The same can be true in reverse; we have the power to change a negative focus to the positive. Unpleasant memories may be associated with events, places, dates, and all kinds of things. It’s tough to shake old repetitive thoughts, so how about we not try? What may help more is attaching new, happier experiences to those events, places, and dates.

OK, what do I mean?

By Christmas weekend 2014, typical holiday depression was knocking on my door. Instead of inviting it in by focusing on loss, I threw a spontaneous New Year’s Day party. Not only did my mood lift that week of preparation, but now I have a new, fun-filled holiday memory. I’m excited about next year’s opportunity to do it again.

Valentine’s Day is coming. This can be a time of sadness for rejected lovers, widows and widowers, and romantics filled with regret. You can create a new memory on this day. 

One woman began making trips to New York City with friends after her husband, her travel companion, died. Perhaps Valentine’s Day could be the day you deliver cards and chocolates to a local nursing home. If a smell or sound is upsetting, try to create a new experience around it. photo-24884214-just-squirrelling-around-3

Layla is a PTSD service dog. When she is on the job she stays focused. Off the job, like the characters in the Pixar movie, UP, she can be distracted easily. “Squirrel!”

You can distract yourself too. Give it a try. Make a game of it. Grab the challenge. See what you can create to change difficult reminders into triggers of joy.


NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

*dog cartoon by julos at rgbstock.com

*squirrel picture from qualitystockphotos.com