May. 29th, 2017

schoolpsychnerd: (Black Widow)
I'm still getting comfortable using the label CPTSD, I'm worried often about people thinking that I'm being melodramatic or playing the victim or trying to get everyone to feel sorry for me or that did I just like swallow the DSM (even though my psychologist brain says "things like depression and eating disorders can stem from trauma or may co-occur. So not uncommon and yet I feel like a diagnostic hot mess). I did notice that I tend to be particularly symptomatic at the Dresden LARP. Before someone brought up the CPTSD possiblity, I legit throught it was me being a bad LARPer, me being crazy, or just like a complete mystery that left me feeling drainded and frustrated as much as I also enjoy game. I realized that my current character has me engaging in a lot more situations that can trigger me and her reactions often run counter to what mine would be. I thought I'd take a bit of a look at what symtoms look like for me at game and how I'm going to work to take care of myself when they happen.

Re-experiencing the past: I don't have what people think of as classic flashbacks. I don't think when smeone yells at me that I'm literally back in a situation, but I do experience emotioanl flashbacks. Those feelings of intense shame, fear, humiliation, sadness, and powerlessness come on super strong and it can be from something as simple as someone IC critizing my character or yelling at her. Raised voices are a trigger for me and because I'm not perfect at preventing bleed, can lead me to retreat emotionally to protect myself where Vanessa would act like Yurio and probably tell the yelling party to fuck off. Vanessa also deals with PTSD but hers looks different from mine. I think stepping out of the situation and going to the OC room to listen to music and say a mauntra like "This is a game, not a reflection of how people OC feel and you are safe here" may be helpful.

Sense of Threat: Oh my gosh, I used to literally think I was just like a sensitive person. Loud noises, yelling, or even like, someone going very quiet while talking hypes up my sense of threat. Suddenly I start walking on egg shells and apologzing for everything. I get overwhelmed really easily when this happens and my brain is so busy looking for threats, where the punishment is going to come from and preparing for how bad it's going to be that I can't focus on what's in front of me. At game this looks like Vanessa getting really quiet or me jumping at everything. Here is where I've found 5 senses grounding to be really helpful. Also pressure can really help if I can overcome how scared I am to ask people for help in these moments. I feel overwhelmed so I think that I am overwhelming. Maybe a sensory kit would also be helpful. I tend to do things like hit myself or dig my nails into me or pinch myself when I'm like this.

Avoidance: This one maybe a bit less because I tend to go more for "Throw myself away" in the name of Flooding (hahahaha, the psychologist in me laughs). I do notice that I will engage with situations that bring up trauma responses but it's with great anxiety and at personal cost. I'll sit through a game of someone saying my character is useless and a child killer but that's like most of my spoons for game and out of game. I think again here, learning to tag out and that it doesn't make me a bad RPer is important.

Emotional Regulation: I am really proud overall at how far I've come in this and when I am triggered, it is usually suddenly me trying to hold 20 pounds of crap in a 5 pound bag. It starts coming out sideways and while I'm not bursting into tears or screaming at people or cowering in the corner (Ok that happened before last game. But I did it away from everyone!) I will try to put up a good front of it but again, it's often at a personal cost and a lot of people who really know me at game notice things like my eyes going wide or that my eye contact shifts (I do wear glasses at game so it makes it more difficult to notice). Here giving myself some space, maybe going and listening to music in the OC room, and doing some self-soothing may be helpful. Again this can be when I do self-injury things so having a sensory kit could be helpful.

Negative Self-Concept: What, you mean it's not that I didn't get enough participation trophies as a kid?! Yeah, while I have moments of feeling ok with myself, self-graitutde or even good about me, I do tend to have a negative self-concept and react from there. It comes out in how I describe Vanessa "mean" "Awful" "cold" etc. or that I'll have a hard time thinking of good things about Vanessa. Even positive traits like "is organized" becomes "is an uptight bitch". As such being mean to Vanessa can feel like a socially acceptable way to be mean to me. I did a little on this by making a list of positive things about Vanessa and i am going to try and write vignettes for them! Also doing things like having Vanessa be a good teacher, and be good with kids help. I also like it when people have a positive thing to say about my character because it can feel like I did something good too.

Interpersonal Problems: This one is a bit hard for me, my way of not getting close to people looks different. I go into Therapist Mode because I learned that doing that was what people wanted and would help people like me. It minimized damage or chances for hurt. I play LARP characters that let me do this as well. Vanessa came in with only one person she was close to, Ben, and has a hard time engaging with others. In game I feel that isolation and the tendancy to cut myself off from others because I can't interact on Safety mode. I think here, identifying characters that connect with Vanessa and seeking out 1:1 interactions with them at game if possible could be helpful. Also letting people OC tag in and support me to remind me that even if their character is angry with Vanessa, they still like Rachel.

I am really fortunate to have a great LARP community that includes my friends who are supportive and caring. I know my struggle is to let them support me instead of thinking I am so much of a bother that they wish I would just get my shit together. Just because I don't want to be around me doesn't mean others don't. Also others don't need to modify their play style for me. I'm going try and have Vanessa leave situations more gracefully than she has been and actually go to the OC room rather than brooding by a window.

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