Hyper vigilance - so much more than just where the exits are.
Hyper vigilance is a big one in PTSD.
Many people think it is just about where the exits are and sitting with your back to the wall, or not saying boo to frighten someone with PTSD.
Hyper vigilance is partly about assessing environment and I constantly do this. I am very aware of what is around me, and I have always chosen to sit where I can see what is around me.
Even in Church, I have always sat on the end of the row - not feeling comfortable with people all around me, I don't like feeling trapped.
Hyper vigilance is exhausting in PTSD and very draining and has to be managed, along with all other symptoms.
Understanding hyper vigilance is key to managing it.
But hyper vigilance is much more than that:
I developed hyper vigilance very young.
My childhood was a constant state of danger, fear and assessing what people were thinking, what their mood was and were they about to hurt me.
My childhood was continual abuse of many types, from birth. My mother was very depressed, very neglectful and I was basically the caretaker of my siblings and of my mother. As a child, I was made the parent role and I was made responsible for my siblings from a young age.
I was blamed for anything that happened, I was my mother and step fathers perfect scapegoat. So, I became hyper aware of everything.
I was also sexually abused for several years as a child by one of the family friends/neighbour. I had to learn to assess him, what he was doing, what he was thinking, what was about to do to harm me.
I learned to assess danger and even within my home, I was constantly aware of danger, and I learned young how to watch for all the subtle cues to people's behaviour and mood - their body language, their voice and tone, their mood, their expressions.
I used this to ascertain whether danger, abuse, or harm was about to occur and how best to either avoid it, minimize it, or handle it.
I have had PTSD from childhood - I know that now.
During the captivity abuse, I had to be hyper vigilant to stay alive. I was in real danger of losing my life and subjected to continual severe abuse, so these skills I learned, became even more important.
Hypervigilance can become accurate discernment
This ability to assess people and potential harm, has gifted me with considerable discernment in people's behaviour now.
I know when body language changes, when actions and words don't match, I know when images don't match behaviours and this constant studying of people is as much a part of who I am - as breathing.
It is something I do without even thinking about it - I just constantly assess people.
If something occurs that feels weird, feels off, feels not right, out of the ordinary, someone body language or tone of voice changes - I will sense it and I will know - if they are someone I have studied enough.
I view this ability now as a gift.
I hate using the phone for personal calls - why???
I have always hated using the phone for personal calls.
Used the phone in work for 14 years with no problems at all. But,when it comes to personal calls, I avoid it at all costs.
Since I first had a phone, I have screened. Used an answering machine and waited until I knew who it was and what they wanted - to decide if I was going to have to call them back, or wait until I saw them so I could speak to them directly.
When caller ID and mobile phones came about, I was thrilled - an easier way to decide whether to speak to someone on the phone, and I will always text rather than call them.
Now, I know why I avoid personal phone calls.
It doesn't feel safe, and the reason is because my over-protective PTSD mind, can't assess all those cues - like in a face to face conversation.
I can't see their body language, their facial expressions, all their subtle cues.
On the phone, all I have is their voice, and that isn't enough and makes me very uncomfortable.
So, I avoid the phone at all costs.
This is one of many ways hyper vigilance can affect us.