How do I cope with posttraumatic stress disorder and its triggers?
I am a survivor of multiple sexual abuse/rape experiences. Triggers are having an effect on my daily life and my sexual relationship with my partner. I'm trying to learn to cope with them.
Have you tried counseling? Having PTSD from multiple abusive sexual experiences is very overwhelming for one to handle alone. You may need the guidance, experience and support of a professional to identify all the triggers that effect you and obtain the best coping skills that would work for you.
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Often people with extensive trauma have difficulty talking about it. This lessens the impact of traditional talk therapy and there benefits. There is a helpful therapy called EMDR that is limited in the amount of talking and also has quick benefits for the reduction of symptoms. For those who are in great distress you can also complete EMDR therapy every day if you would like/have the means. This can quicken the recovery time from these distressing life events.
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When anyone has experienced a traumatic event, triggers can be a normal result. Your brain is wired for survival. When a traumatic event takes place, it can cause your brain to go into a hypervigilant state, thinking that it needs to constantly protect itself. This is not an indication that something is wrong with you. It just means that your brain is doing a really great job of protecting you! Therapy can help you find your "off" switch.
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Even if the triggers are having a negative impact on your life, it is really insightful of you to be able to identify your triggers. The effects of trauma often impact us, our functioning, and our relationships with other people. It is possible to learn ways to cope with your trauma. Coping skills are not a one size fits all, it is important to find what skill works for what trigger. Therapy will help you process your trauma, identify your thoughts and feelings, teach you coping skills, and help you enhance your personal safety.
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Talking about it stops it from being a secret. It takes courage to have posted your question and that is the first step. Here is an article I wrote a few years back. http://abuseisnotasecret.com/why-abuse-is-not-your-fault/
One day at a time.
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I'm glad you're willing to keep optimistic about life improving and offering better relationships than some of the ones in which you greatly suffered.
One suggestion is to develop patience with yourself and the process of regaining your willingness to trust other people.
Sexual intimacy engages all of who we truly are. Being cautious as to who and how much you allow someone into your life, is natural for anyone recovering from trauma.
Allow yourself to withdraw when situations feel dangerous. Your sense of danger is most likely on higher alert than had you not been victimized.
Be attentive and cooperate with your own sense of readiness to engage in conversation, discussions and sex with your partner.
Explain all this to your partner so the person can develop their own patience with your recuperation process.
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I encourage you to seek out and work with a therapist who specializes in treating complex trauma. Somatic Experiencing, Brainspotting, and Internal Family Systems Therapy are all highly effective treatments for people dealing with complex trauma. If you are interested in reading a book that is supportive and compassionate, Bessel van der Kolk's The Body Keeps the Score is a wonderful book that discusses treatment options in depth.
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