Graded Exposure and Emotions

27 Apr

On Thursday I met with my care coordinator (cc) to begin a program of graded exposure. This basically means that in order to build up my confidence in going out in public in the day, we were going to start doing exactly that.

My cc thought that I had too many psychological blocks on going out near me and so we decided to meet in a local park’s car park when we thought it would be relatively quiet. The plan was to see how I was and maybe go for a walk around the park.

It didn’t quite go to plan. By the time Thursday came along I’d turned myself into a nervous wreck. I hadn’t slept at all the previous night and felt close to calling the whole thing off, but I didn’t. I met with her and we essentially spent 45 mins stood next to my car as I was too on edge to move any further. I spent the whole time looking around and making sure I knew where everything was, and if any people (thankfully few) came along, I followed their every move to make sure I was ok.

By the time I got home I was drained, both mentally and physically and wanted nothing more than to sleep, but the adrenalin had kicked in and that was the last thing my body allowed me to do. I was positive though, it was a step forward, a very small one, but in the right direction and my cc had been pleased with me for the amount of time we managed.

That night I thought I’d sleep, but again it felt like my body was on high alert and wouldn’t let me relax enough to close my eyes. I could kind of understand this, but I didn’t expect it to last as long as it did. In the night I had a huge wobble. I cried, a lot! I wondered if this was it, was this all I was going to be capable of? Standing by my car for 45 mins and then spending the next 24 hours recovering from it!

On Friday I decided I needed to be kind to myself. In my old life getting so worked up over something so tiny would have been pathetic, but this isn’t my old life and what I did wasn’t tiny. So I spent the day watching tv and snuggled under my duvet (not in bed though!).

And then today hit. In PTSD, anger is one of the symptoms and I’ve seen flashes of that in me and I really don’t like it. However, it’s one of the things I do keep in check for the majority of the time. But today, I’ve got this deep down, in the stomach, kind of burning anger. I can’t really describe it better than that. I’ve kept away from people on purpose as I know I’d lose it at the tiniest of things. As the day has gone on, I’ve tried all my known strategies and yet still I feel very much on the edge – this is something new!

And so it begs the question; why have all these emotions come to the fore? Is it because I’m trying to move forward and this is bound to happen? Am I finally feeling anger because of what I went through or is it anger at not being the ‘old’ me and not being able to do the simplest of tasks? I’m not too sure at the moment but I don’t like this side of me one bit!


Posted by on April 27, 2013 in Uncategorized


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6 responses to “Graded Exposure and Emotions

  1. LittleMissLola

    April 27, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    First of all, well done for getting to the car park…my first attempt at graded exposure saw me have a huge panic attack and pass out at my front door!

    Secondly, I just wanted you to know you’re not alone with the angry feelings. I have kicked numerous doors in my home and even broke my toe on the kitchen wall! Yeah, I’m a kicker and occasional thrower! I find I get angry because of the frustration of situations…frustrated that the people around me don’t seem to understand how I’m feeling, frustrated that I’m not the strong, independent person I use to be and frustrated that I’m angry and frustrated!

    I can promise you, it will get better. Slowly the horrific days become fewer and fewer and the ‘normal’ days become more common x

    • femaleptsd

      April 27, 2013 at 10:07 pm

      Thanks so much for that – it’s nice to know I’m not alone in my feelings x

  2. EmotionAdvice

    April 28, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    Hello. How I deal with unpleasant emotions is to kind of focus myself away from the event. In this case however any and all emotion is good for you. When you get overwhelmed try to control your breathing and then decide you won’t feel whatever it is. Mine is concrete habbit and has gone the opposite way so I can’t feel much of anything for long, but some balance between over stressed as you are and numbed completely out as I am must be achievable.

    • femaleptsd

      April 29, 2013 at 1:14 pm

      Thankyou so much for that, great advice x

  3. Hope

    April 30, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    Hi. I have just found your blog. 🙂 I can very much relate to that feeling of burning anger. For me, it usually comes when I encounter what I perceive to be an obstacle which would not have existed if it weren’t for the trauma, For instance, if I encounter a really unhelpful psychiatrist, I often think ‘I wouldn’t even have to deal with this if it weren’t for what happened’, and then the anger comes, or it’s often a situation like the one you mentioned, where I feel emotionally like a child stuck in an adult’s body, unable to do things I think I ‘should’ be able to do. Acceptance is the only way forward though.I try and focus on accepting my gains in light of what I have had to go through. Powerful emotions are a massive part of recovery- we cannot predict when they are going to strike, so I just try and go with the flow.(So much easier said than done!)

    Thanks for the blog, and sharing your experiences. x

    • femaleptsd

      April 30, 2013 at 7:35 pm

      Hi thanks for your comment – that’s exactly what it is – dealing with things that are because of what happened. I should be able to go for a nice walk in the park and yet I can’t because of the trauma.

      Good idea to try and stay in the now and accept it (like you say a lot easier said than done!) x


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