Caffeine possible trigger? Anyone else?

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papillon

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Caffeine possible trigger? Anyone else?
« on: December 03, 2015, 04:34:57 AM »
I had a latte today to help perk me up after getting half the sleep I'm used to getting. As I'm learning about cPTSD and paying closer attention to myself I think I'm seeing a pattern of being easily triggered when sleep deprived. I guess my defenses are down when I'm worn out?

The coffee made my heart race, but not just caffeine-jitters, I went into panic mode. Over a couple of hours I swung from angry, to overstimulated, to light sensitivity and wanting to hide in the dark far away from all other humans, to wanting to cry, to spacing out, to feeling normal, to nauseous, to hyperventilating, and back to irritable (as in "please, don't talk to me or I'll chew you out"). I kept working and apart from taking some deep breaths (ok, and turning the office lights off) I didn't do anything to act on the anxiety and eventually calmed down.

This happened pretty often in college (little sleep, lots of caffeine… lots of panic), but I just chalked it up to me being weird. I'm wondering if anyone else feels that they're triggered by substances? The last time I had alcohol I had a particularly intense panic attack and I'm afraid to drink again for fear of triggering a similar sequence of events. Should I consider caffeine "off the table" for the time being as well?

Is it "normal" to experience such a range of responses? Anything to help me understand what's going on in my head, or at least to know that I'm not alone would be really helpful! It's so frustrating to feel so out of control!

My therapist says I'm "driving on ice" right now. Any sudden motions and my car's going to end up in the ditch. Things like this show me that she's absolutely right!

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arpy1

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Re: Caffeine possible trigger? Anyone else?
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2015, 12:27:02 PM »
ouch, horrible  :aaauuugh:

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My therapist says I'm "driving on ice" right now. Any sudden motions and my car's going to end up in the ditch. Things like this show me that she's absolutely right!

 :yeahthat:, definitely!  i get it a bit, but chocolate and caffeine together (like one of those amazing Thorntons mochas) are something i need to avoid!  :doh: :doh: (darn it, i love them so much  :sadno:)

you're not alone in this one, i swear!!  this is probably something a lot of us can relate to.  i wonder if it's something to do with the ways our brains have been rewired by the trauma we've lived in?  so that we react with greater sensitivity to physical stimuli than 'normal' ?  i remember reading in Pete Walker that some people can get triggered into an EF by simply getting out of breath walking upstairs; it's not the action, it's the physical arousal factor - being breathless, raised heart rate etc, switches on the old panic that something bad is happening, and bang! straight into fight/flight/freeze. that has happened to me sometimes. 

and i am always more easily triggered when i am not sleeping properly.  i suppose drinking decaff would go some way to avoiding this on both levels.  and driving really really carefully till you get off the ice... like, looking after yourself and doing all the right things about sleep etc???  credit to you for winding yourself down even though you were working... that's quite something.  when i get like that i just have to get home quick from wherever i am (- advantage to being on the sick, i suppose, one of the very few).

anyway, not sure we've spoken before, so nice to meet you, papillon. butterfly. nice.  :hug:

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papillon

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Re: Caffeine possible trigger? Anyone else?
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2015, 04:59:09 PM »
Hi, arpy1, pleasure to meet you!  :wave: Thanks for your response. My therapist loves analogies… she says we're all already butterflies, we just think we're still the icky caterpillars.

Every little bit of affirmation I can get right now is incredibly helpful. I've just started to face all of this and call it by name… so I'm feeling very confused and a little overwhelmed. It's hard to keep going about and living my life when I suddenly understand that almost 100% of the decisions I make on a daily basis are fear-motivated. Striking a balance between acknowledging the consequences of the past, not being consumed in thinking about it, and not choosing to continue repressing it… it's tricky. Very tricky.

That makes sense about physical stimulus and raised heart rate triggering a sort of body memory of past dangers (would that be what Walker calls an Emotional Flashback?).

I want to think of caffeine as being benign, but it is a drug. Ha… I just googled caffeine, Wikipedia says:

"Caffeine can have negative effects on anxiety disorders. According to a 2011 literature review, caffeine use is positively associated with anxiety and panic disorders. At high doses, typically greater than 300 mg, caffeine can both cause and worsen anxiety. For some people, discontinuing caffeine use can significantly reduce anxiety."

Looks like I need to work on being nicer to myself with better sleep habits and cutting down on the caffeine!

Thanks again :)

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arpy1

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Re: Caffeine possible trigger? Anyone else?
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2015, 06:17:35 PM »
why is it always the yummy stuff that's bad for us????? :pissed:

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papillon

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Re: Caffeine possible trigger? Anyone else?
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2015, 07:14:05 PM »
Ha! That usually doesn't stop me  :bigwink: