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Forums / PTSD & Trauma / Do you ever get weird physical symptoms?

Topic: Do you ever get weird physical symptoms?

7 posts, 0 answered
  1. corvid-patrol
    corvid-patrol avatar
    2 posts
    18 August 2020

    Hi all,

    This is my first post. Thanks for reading.

    I've been living with affects of trauma for about 4-5 years. There's something I've wanted to ask for a while, to see if I'm not alone.

    I won't go into details now but I first developed symptoms after a traumatic event, which was an incident that happened in the process of me trying to end a 6 year abusive relationship.

    The symptoms started a week later when I was stuck in a situation at work where I felt I might get into trouble.
    I totally left my body. My legs kept buckling. I was shaking so much I couldn't hold onto things. I couldn't feel my body and it felt like I was looking at someone else in the mirror. Loud sounds made me cry. Everyone's faces looked cartoonishly angry. I couldn't walk properly or at a normal pace. Colours looked bleached. I couldn't think or really explain to anyone what was happening. This lasted for 5 days until somehow, something made me laugh and I started to get feeling back in my stomach.

    After that I would get episodes of similar symptoms, often swinging between high energy/ anxious states to being completely zoned out and slowed down. It took me a long time to connect what had happened with my ex to how I was feeling.

    PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS - Does anyone else get these?

    I still get symptoms sometimes. They are generally less extreme than they first were, but worse and more consistent lately. One thing that's always confused me is how *physical* some of my symptoms are:

    - Muscles randomly twitching or contracting, making controlled movements hard (like my arms/ shoulders randomly tense up, hands shake)
    - I get a weird, slow "gait". I look stiff like I'm limping or favoring one of my legs. Body generally feels stiff and tight. I can release it for a second but it comes right back.
    - My breathing feels constricted and slow.
    - General exhaustion and extreme fatigue after exercise, sometimes for a day or so after.
    - Dizziness.
    - My eyes have trouble focussing on things, and just zone out. Or, they dart around randomly.

    Mental symptoms are usually confusion/ fog/ overwhelm. I can't really "feel" very much. Sometimes I can get in touch with my emotions and that helps me get "unstuck". But often I forget that there is emotional "stuff" there.

    Are these symptoms familiar to anyone else? Am I on the right track viewing this as a "freeze" response? I feel like if I could understand it better, I'd be more confident in how I approach it. Thank you!

  2. romantic_thi3f
    Community Champion
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    romantic_thi3f avatar
    3151 posts
    19 August 2020 in reply to corvid-patrol

    Hi corvid-patrol,

    Welcome to the forums and thank you for joining us. I'm so sorry to hear about your traumatic event. It sounds like you've been dealing with this for a very long time.

    There's some things I can relate to and some things I can't, but even though there's things I can't relate to, the idea that it's so 'physical' doesn't surprise me or feel abnormal to me.

    When I read your post, I think of theories about trauma and it being stored in the body. Often, when people think of trauma they think of things like nightmares or flashbacks, but trauma can look really different in everyone. Bodily responses and feelings are our brains way of coping - it might feel very odd but it does make sense.

    Have you ever gotten some therapy or support for what you went through?

    rt

  3. corvid-patrol
    corvid-patrol avatar
    2 posts
    20 August 2020 in reply to romantic_thi3f

    Hi rt, thanks so much for your response!

    I have more good days now than I used to, which I'm very grateful for. Although covid related stress seems to be kicking my arse and giving me more symptoms lately, which I'm sure others can relate to.

    It was really nice to hear the perspective that trauma can look different for everybody, and can manifest physically. I think I know this from experience, but sometimes I really feel confused because most of the resources I look at will emphasise other symptoms (which I don't currently experience), and nothing seems to match or speak directly to what I'm dealing with. I think because I also dissociate from my emotions a lot, sometimes I even forget (or deny to myself) that the physical symptoms are related to the trauma, and I can start convincing myself that I've got some other physical problem. A couple of years ago I even got a brain scan to check if i had any underlying neurodegenerative issues (i didnt!)

    I have had therapy at various times but I struggled to develop a long standing relationship with a therapist. For various reasons, mostly accessibility and cost. Some did help while I was able to see them, and a few ended up not being a right fit.

    I've actually gotten the most help from more alternative methods, like body and breath work, martial arts, and doing things that help me connect to nature and my friends. Lots of stuff that I'd normally do in person, which usually involve physical contact, and which, of course (being in the "naughty state"), I can't access at the moment.

    I've been thinking lately that I would like to go back to therapy. Even though following my intuition about what I need to keep healing has got me to a better place than where I started, I do often feel lost and like I want others to validate my experience and give me a framework for understanding what's happening to me and how I can work with it. I need a map.

    Thanks again for your response, this has helped me get clearer on my needs :)

  4. blondguy
    Life Member
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    blondguy avatar
    11360 posts
    20 August 2020 in reply to corvid-patrol

    Hi Corvid-Patrol

    I understand most of the physical symptoms you are experiencing where anxiety related issues are concerned. After experiencing trauma these symptoms can be very common to experience

    There is an excellent thread on the forums discussing physical symptoms if you want to have a look!....Its a huge thread yet I hope even some of it is helpful. Your thoughts/feedback/questions are always welcome!

    www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/online-forums/anxiety/what-physical-feelings-of-anxiety-do-you-get

    you are not alone

    Paul

  5. therising
    Valued Contributor
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    therising avatar
    2684 posts
    20 August 2020 in reply to corvid-patrol

    Hi corvid-patrol

    What an incredibly brave and powerful person, to have left that relationship under such threat. I feel for you so much as you work through the process of reforming yourself well beyond that relationship.

    Getting a sense of how we tick on a physically emotional level can definitely be challenging. Plenty of folk speak about emotion from a mental perspective (I'm happy, sad, angry) but they often don't study how the body is experiencing the emotions of happiness, sadness or anger. Emotions are very physical experiences until we can't feel them, then we may refer to our self as 'feeling numb' or 'detached'.

    It is even said that we store emotions in our body which tend to resurface under certain circumstances. I have a pal who has faced many challenges in life and, not long ago, became overwhelmed by the inability to tolerate anymore challenges that came her way. She now has an amazing counselor in her life. He asked her a couple of life changing questions last week, which she said led to the strangest sensations, once certain revelations hit her. She said she first felt light headed, then euphoric, then her body felt incredibly light like she was floating. Then she started crying. She couldn't make sense of the experience. I asked her if it felt like she let go of something significant before experiencing an overwhelming sense of peace, to which she replied 'Yes'. In this case you could say her body let go of years of tension before she felt peace as a physical emotion. Now she knows what an overwhelming sense of peace feels like, physically.

    A lot of the time we don't feel physical emotion until it becomes noticeable. Then we may say 'What is this? Why am I suddenly feeling this way?' Sounds kinda weird but listening to what our body is saying is like learning a new language. Learning the language may involve asking questions such as

    • What does tension feel like, physically?
    • What does complete detachment feel like?
    • What does lighthearted/joy feel like?
    • What does heavyhearted/sadness feel like?
    • What does being shaken up or sensing a threat feel like?
    • What does a rise to courage, through fear, feel like in various parts of my body?

    The list goes on when it comes to identifying physical sensations (energy in motion).

    Becoming a conscious observer can mean becoming sensitive enough to catch our self in the beginnings of a work up to intense emotion/hyperactivity.

    Exploring the topic of 'physical emotion' might be of interest to you.

    :)

  6. romantic_thi3f
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • Life membership is awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
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    romantic_thi3f avatar
    3151 posts
    20 August 2020 in reply to corvid-patrol

    Hi corvid-patrol,

    It's great to hear back from you and you're so welcome! :)

    I hear you. It makes sense to question things if what you're feeling and experiencing isn't typical, and I think everyone would be in the same boat - and I imagine it doesn't help either if you're feeling a bit dissociated! At the same time though, you are here which means that you are questioning things - rather than being straight back at your GP's office. A big credit to you for doing this hard work, it's not easy.

    I am very impressed to hear about your alternative methods though! I guess I'm the opposite now in that I'm very invested in therapy but nothing with body work! When I'm trying to do breath work or even yoga it feels very confronting and exhausting - do you find that as well? I do hope that you can consider therapy though; sometimes it can take a little while to find a good fit but I know it's helped me so much.

    If alternative methods are your go-to, do you think being in lockdown is making everything harder and flare up? I have seen a lot of cool things online, and I actually read that looking at pictures of nature can induce the same positive effects in our brain as being in nature. How cool! So even though it's not the same, hopefully you're able to find some ways to incorporate it all at home.

    rt

  7. Unknown User
    Unknown User avatar
    5 posts
    24 August 2020 in reply to corvid-patrol

    Hi, I think physical symptoms can be part of PTSD and trauma. I usually get symptoms like:

    • Involuntary movements and screaming "ow" during flashbacks (I have been told it happens when I sleep too.
    • I've never been violent to other people, if they've somehow woke me up from sleep-walking or flashbacks, it's more likely me to have an anxiety attack than hit someone back.
    • Dizziness, sweaty palms.
    • Heart racing, but I generally am able to breathe properly.
    • Unaware of what's going on or forgetting what to do because I've been in a trance.
    • Pain (either emotional or due to the constant involuntary movements).
    • Migraines.
    1 person found this helpful

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