Stress responses with DDNOS and PTSD are unpredictable
As a severe survivor who has had several letters after my name, such as DDNOS and PTSD, sometimes I’m triggered by things that wouldn’t bother most people. For example, someone accused me of causing a problem that was in fact her plumber’s fault. He didn’t install the required plumbing vents, so sewer sprays out of the downstairs sink when anyone flushes upstairs, and the sink goes glug-glug-glug all the time. He lied to her, saying it was all caused by our flushing a toilet downstairs while the water was turned off to that toilet. All that would do is drain the toilet’s tank (which it did), and there’d be no influx of water to fill it. No problems.
Anyone who knows the first thing about plumbing, water flow, or gravity would have known he was wrong. But she believed him and turned her anger on me.
The Orthodox response
The Orthodox thing to do would be to respond calmly and explain the truth, or perhaps to keep quiet. My response? I kept quiet, alright, but not because I’m Orthodox. I froze like a deer in the headlights, because I was triggered.
I couldn’t say anything. I couldn’t tell her what was actually going on: that her plumber ripped her off by not installing the necessary vent pipes when he installed the plumbing, and he was lying to cover his tail and convince her to put the blame on someone else. I have done some plumbing and have read quite a bit about it, so I know some things about it, and I can Google and ask a good plumber about anything I don’t know.
Mental health counselor
The irony here? The woman is a mental health counselor, and she didn’t even realize that she had triggered me and sent me into a state of frozen panic. The sad part: I really like her and I can’t even talk to her right now. I think she would care if she knew. At least, I hope she would! Also, it bothers me that her plumber took advantage of her like that.
If she would just look it up online or talk to another plumber, she’d find out the truth: sewer from upstairs spraying out of downstairs drains has nothing to do with flushing a toilet that had the water turned off to it. Nothing at all. It’s caused by improper/insufficient sewer venting, and it will never go away until that is fixed. Vents need to be installed in the building, and run all the way up to the roof. If I weren’t scared of heights, I’d offer to install them for her. Maybe she’d be less angry with me.
Triggering stress responses
So this has all been very stressful. Obviously, some people’s stress responses with DDNOS and PTSD are not triggered by things like this. Everyone has their own unique constitution.
Sometimes, I can handle a huge stressor like an assault and just shrug it off, or take charge in an emergency and go home when it’s done, unaffected. Some people who know me think I’m a paradox like that. I have to agree, and I feel bad for them that they are dealing with it, but I don’t know what to do to help them. It’s not like I can just say, “Okay, my stress responses will be more predictable from now on.”
I don’t think there’s any way to know for sure how a person with these conditions will react to a stressor, or even what things they will find to be stressful. I know with me, being accused of something—especially when I know I didn’t do it—will trigger me every time. So will someone being angry with me, unless I have years of experience with them that tells me I’m still safe. I’ll think of just the right thing to say, hours or days after the confrontation. But I probably won’t have the nerve to go say it to the person, so it will sit inside my head.
Now, I could choose to let this new relationship go and just let her stay angry at me forever because she was taken advantage of and bought a lie, or I could find the courage to speak, and try to repair it. She and I have quite a bit in common and I thought we could be friends. I’m going to try to repair it, even though I know it will be stressful. I like her. I think she’s worth it. I know she won’t physically assault me, so I’ll be safe that way. If she yells at me, I can just walk away and go get safe emotionally. Stress responses with DDNOS and PTSD are a royal pain, but they’re part of life.
Update: I sent her a card, explaining my response. She brought me a gift in return, and things seem to be better now. She also told me that her handyman also told her the plumber was not being honest with her.