It’s probably difficult for people who haven’t got ‘PTSD’ to understand how physical it is. Coming out of church on Sunday, a child screamed: I startled (jumped), froze (couldn’t move for a minute or more) and was then so dizzy and slowed down that I had to sit, breathe, wait till I could go on.
What was that about? The traumatic response is usually to a physical stimulus that the body somehow remembers and associates with a traumatic event – in this case, I guess there was someone (everyone?) screaming as we went into the car crash. My mind doesn’t remember it, but it seems like my body does.
So, the trigger is pressed and the adrenalin pumps and the body does its automatic response, leaving me in shock and needing to PHYSICALLY to get the adrenalin level down and MENTALLY trying to process whatever it is that my body has remembered.
At the same time, the child who is watching (was he the one that screamed?) and wondering why I’m ‘frozen’ needs reassuring, and the friendly person who comes to ask whether I am OK needs and explanation . . . At least I am not in the middle of a shop, with people annoyed because I am in their way . . .