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Hypervigilance & Its Relevance To Combat PTSD

Discussion in 'Articles' started by Anthony, Oct 12, 2010.

  1. Anthony

    Anthony Here In Spirit Staff Member Administrator

    Well done Ned... exceptional work. Our mind really is our own control over fears. Rational fears are rational, irrational fears are the ones we have to change... such as the threat level we determine in going shopping within a civilian environment vs. what our brain tells us based on past military situations. We can change our brain fear response, it just takes practice and time. The more you do it... not over-doing it either so you fall over, then with time you just shift into that mode.

    I actually found that if I am suddenly thrust upon going into a shopping center, ie. passing by one and someone wants to stop, my time span within is very very short, because my brain doesn't have the time to come to terms with establishing blase mode (I call it), and basically get myself into the right frame of mind before approaching.

    When I know I'm going shopping in a big center, then I have time to prepare and get myself into blase mode, then I literally cruise through the place.... the missus actually has to slow down to me, because if I pace through, I get anxious, if I blase through at a snails pace, even becoming one of those slow, annoying people, then suddenly I can keep myself relaxed, browse, shop, eat, drink, etc, then exit, without consequence.

    If I drop in on the center or find myself in it too long, then I can start to feel the consequences.

    You will find the same thing Ned... you will identify a pattern of how you need to approach, how long you will be able to shop for, etc.
    T^3, Ned and Jimmy like this.
  2. Jimmy

    Jimmy Established Member

    Excellent way of explaining it Anthony. 'Blase mode'. Now I know why I the anxiety hits.
    When I plan to go shopping all is well, unless I am pushed and shoved or have to line up for longer than two minutes. But if I have to go somewhere last minute I usually end up with my cup almost overflowing.

    Thanks mate.
    Ned and Anthony like this.
  3. Ned

    Ned Established Member

    That's probably the easiest way for me. I'm already scanning and prioritising anyway so all it'll take is one more bit of that:
    'Is this a real threat or is this just pattern recognition?'. All too often I have the automatic reflex and then it's too late.
    Totally agree about blase mode, with hindsight that's what I did and it worked. No kidding, on Saturday morning someone would've had to try quite hard to rile me and then I might just have laughed anyway. Really blase.
    I'm going to work on this one, just hope I don't become an eighth dan flippant. Oh, errr...............
    Anthony likes this.
  4. Fargo

    Fargo Established Member

    Arrgh Mateys! I thought I was prepared....

    This weekend I went to the Vallejo Pirate Festival. Although it was a fun romp for most, the crowd had me going just approaching, so I begged off and went to my friend's house. As I was walking away, I noticed all the drunken revellers with fake muskets and cutlasses. Whew, good thing I was not in the crowd! Then about halfway to the house, they started firing the cannon. Jesus. I must have looked like an idiot.

    Kinda bummed out I can't partake in even a fun romp.
    Ned likes this.
  5. Ned

    Ned Established Member

    Crowds and noise. Crowds put me in state yellow every time then it only takes one more trigger.
    Couple of years ago turned up for a works do in a fancy bar down town. Loud music, packed out, everyone wanted to have a chat to me & my girl. Lasted about 10 minutes and when we got out it into the quiet street it was like I'd been in a scrap. Took me another ten minutes to pull myself together.
    Year before that was on holiday in Tunisia and she wanted to go to the bazaar in the town we were staying in. Lasted about five minutes, far too many triggers.
    Personally, looking at your fun romp from the outside, I can only admire you for trying. Because I wouldn't have.
  6. Ned

    Ned Established Member

    Actually that's bollocks. See above my lovely fluffy shopping trip. But I'd done the prep. Fargo mate I reckon it was just too many triggers at once.
  7. Fargo

    Fargo Established Member

    Yep. I knew it was gonna be tough from the get-go. But I tried. Well, practice, practice, practice.
    Anthony and Ned like this.
  8. Kenneth

    Kenneth New Member

    Do you think that you can forsee things that will result in problems before others do? Civilians, spouse, kids etc? I find myself looking as I am over reacting and too cautious when it comes to seeing things that I feel my family are oblivious to, a good example of this would be not trusting a new neighbor coming around. I always seem to find a negative angle on things. Im in protect mode all the time and its pushing my family away. They treat me as if im nuts. I get frustrated with this and have anger episodes that just make the situation and my credibility worse. Im i a nut or can someone here relate? I need to know I am not crazy. Sorry I need to vent and glad I found this site. Thanks all
  9. Ned

    Ned Established Member

    No you are not, and yes, just about everyone here can relate to what you've described. The neighbour is a typical example.
    Anyway, you're 'normal', and welcome mate.

    (p.s.), as you're here, read the hyper-vigilance explanation, explains why.
  10. Kenneth

    Kenneth New Member

    Thanks Ned, try convincing my wife that. As I am posting this I am hearing what a phsyco I am. Its so much fun being a bad husband, father etc. Im tired of hearing all this and they become triggers. I cant sit by and watch the mistakes that they will make. I am not programed like that.
  11. Fargo

    Fargo Established Member


    As Ned already said, nearly all of us experience this part of the Beast. You will never convince your friends, family, etc., of anything so IMHO you have to stop trying to convince them. They have to learn what is going on with you. More important, they have to WANT to learn what is going on with you. The good news is that if she has put up with you this far, there is a chance that she wants to learn.

    Now you have to figure out how to teach her. But first you have to teach yourself. Getting here is a great first step! Welcome to the fold. This is some brutally hard shit we are going through. All of us are at the minimum reasonably intelligent people, used to seeing a problem, seeing what we have to work with, and then getting shit done. The problem is that it is your own mind and nervous system working for/against you. When you were in whatever shit you were in, you learned how to survive. When it is your actual life being threatened, those survival techniques get logged into your brain. Not only are they logged in, they are chiseled in stone. So now you have to erase that log with your two fleshy hands...and while hands can eventually wear the stone down, it takes a while and it takes hard work.

    The great thing about this forum is that you can vent, bitch, gripe, and complain mostly without consequence. And for me that has been a critical thing. When I was keeping it all in... Well, lets just say it was messy. Just don't get personal with 'Yo' mama wears combat boots' and everyone here will have your back. They will have your back even if you make some mamma jokes, just be prepared to have another vet with the Beast come back at ya! ;-)

    So read on brother. Read, vent, and learn. Take care of yourself and welcome.
    Ned likes this.
  12. Jimmy

    Jimmy Established Member

    Kenneth, my family laugh at my shortcomings and call me crazy every now and then. Like when I am at the local shopping centre and have forgotten what I went there for. Like when I lock the door and lock one of the kids outside. Once I poured water into my bowl of pasta instead of the glass on the table.
    Its usually when my stress levels are up, but its all ok mate, and it does get better. Just prior to my wedding on Saturday, I was flying off the handle at everything. I was checking to make sure everyone was doing everything to perfection, it was natural.

    You just have to learn how to relax and let things happen. Find a man cave in your house where you can go when your feeling amped up. Get your wife and teenager to read the articles on here so they understand. Here are the links.


    Kenneth, print these out and let your family read them, it does help.

    My only other words of advice would be that sometimes we see issues that are not there. I rely heavily on Margaret for this. I will have a pick at one of the children for something and Margaret will tell me that there was no real problem.

    Good luck buddy.
  13. Kenneth

    Kenneth New Member

    Thanks to all, look forward to more correspondence. Good to know we are not alone in this.
  14. armyvetwolf

    armyvetwolf Known Member

    I was diagnosed with "hyper-vigilance" PTSD in 2008. My husband who is currently active duty doesn't understand even when i explain it to him. He doesn't seem to react to things like I do. It ends up causing me to have panic attacks in the car whenever i am not driving and am only a passenger.
  15. Jimmy

    Jimmy Established Member

    Get him to read some of the articles on here. Its imperative for all parties to have an understanding of what PTSD is. It's not just hypervigilence. Everyone who returns from a combat zone is hypervigilent to some extent. Over there you had to watch your six, you had to check out every vehicle that went past, you had to watch for exit points.
    I still get hypervigilent on days my stress levels are up, I will walk around the house at night checking doors and checking the yard, even though I know the dog will let us know if anyone is around.
  16. armyvetwolf

    armyvetwolf Known Member

    I still check the doors every night. I have a cat who thinks she is a dog...LOL. I let her keep her claws so she can claw the crap out of any intruder that tries to break in...haha. When i am in the passenger in the front i freak out because i think truckers or certain vehicles are trying to run off the road or are going to blow up like a VBIED.
  17. Jimmy

    Jimmy Established Member

    As I mentioned, you will get over that. I used to steer clear of vehicles riding low on the axles and shit like that, but it passed over time and with therapy.
  18. armyvetwolf

    armyvetwolf Known Member

    Thanks Jimmy, i notice at times it doesn't bother me...usually when there is hardly any traffic on the road. I notice the nightmares getting less and less...that's a plus. But as long as I am driving and in control and no one is with me, to include the kids and hubby, i am calm. I think i do my best when i am driving and have my mind set on a specific place or goal.
  19. Jimmy

    Jimmy Established Member

    Well I hate driving full stop. I have no patience anymore.
  20. tho9900

    tho9900 Established Member

    I remember going over the beltway bridge not too long ago.. about half way up I started looking at this truck with oxygen and acetylene tanks on it.. I just had this image of it blowing up on the center span... and when we got to the top I had this movie going through my head of the bottles blowing... it didnt happen but wow... talk about my heart going crazy.. nowhere to go... but with it..

    and on Jimmy's post... when I stayed at Nichol's her ex went around the block like 5 times.. prolly trying to figure out who was sleeping at her house... ends up the best she had was bargain store kitchen knives... never the less, lights out... ears open and eyes scanning windows and doors... she has a K-Bar now, I bought it and she thought I was silly... told her if she is gonna use a knife for protection she needs a real one... she refuses to get a sidearm... thanking god I have Nala now.. I can tell even if her ear twitches a certain way that someone is near...
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