One of the major elements with PTSD that I have talked about with many others is the issue of feeling like you are about to jump out of your own skin when you are in a crowded environment. It is this overwhelming sensation that comes from the depth of your being that just seems to take over. It's disconcerting and isolating because once that feeling comes over you once, you do not want to be putting yourself back into that position. It is certainly easy to take this approach to your thinking and say, "Well, I just won't ever go into crowded places ever again." That's okay if you plan to not interact with anyone, but we all know that's not entirely healthy either, so how do you navigate this problem?
First, I like to identify the places that have large crowds that are a necessary part of my everyday living. For example, the grocery store. The second part of this is being able to identify what elements in this environment were triggering this response in me. The grocery store has been a hot button place for me for a long time. Let's take a look at some of the elements that act as triggers. Many may resonate with you.
- Lots of People
- Beeping Noises
- Buzzing Noises
- Children Crying
- People Shouting
- Angry People
- Impatient People
- Aisles that get blocked (feeling trapped can be a big issue with PTSD)
- Shopping Cart Traffic Jams
I've spoken a number of times about energy in the blog and this is an environment that clearly spells it out. When you are standing in line in the presence of someone who is growing very impatient, you can feel their energy. It begins to seep into your bio-field and then you start to develop anxiousness and irritability too. As the tension mounts, your personal radar starts to go off the charts. It's more than just feeling "annoyed" in an environment. You are actually developing a physical response to the stimuli. This is similar as to what happens with the beeping noises. I've had some say to me, "Just don't listen to it. Yeah, it's annoying, just ignore it." It's not that easy. When you have PTSD, these triggers "get inside" of you and get the stress hormones pumping. It's not like you can just decide not to feel a certain way. A pathway has been trained for fear and the only way I can foresee to change that is to start creating new pathways, which is what I learned to do through meditation and energy work.
I suppose there are ways to avoid this environment if you order with businesses that offer shopping from home, but again, avoidance is not the answer. Learning how to navigate so that you can live normally should be the goal. A few posts ago, I mentioned identifying your target. Is your target to hide away from a normal life just to be able to feel somewhat okay? Or is your goal to overcome the challenges and feel connected, happy, and healthy again? We do have a choice in how we move forward, even though we didn't choose to have the condition that we have. We can't always eliminate triggers, but we can learn to identify them and work with them by developing tools to help us navigate them.