Staying safe and setting boundaries

I see loss of control over personal boundaries as a central factor in trauma which makes the sufferer much more vulnerable than usual.  These boundaries may take some time to become re-established and while recovery is under way we need to be much more careful than usual about our safety.

It's sensible to use our sense of safety as a guide when considering what to do and with whom. If you're not sure what to do, I suggest you opt to stay safe.  Do what is necessary but don't expose yourself to anything that makes you more vulnerable than you already are or puts you in a situation where you might be - you already have more than enough to deal with.  If such a situation is unavoidable try to have a support person with you.  Here is where you can begin to be back in charge - by looking after yourself!

At the time that I was most unwell some dangers were real in a practical sense and other lesser disturbances perceived as such.

I did put myself in danger of worsening my own extremely vulnerable situation by attempting to battle on unassisted when I lacked the judgement to do so.  At the same time I was aware of teetering on the brink of losing control of my mind which I knew could happen if I surrendered to the anguish and rage within, or allowed myself to dwell too much on what had gone wrong.  Also, I knew I was in danger of alienating those few who provided me with a semblance of support by behaviour which was too anti-social or demanding.  These dangers were very real.

A different sort of danger arose from my own extreme state which made me hyper-sensitive to absolutely everything.  This made the sense of being invaded and overwhelmed by various incidents and influences much greater than was realistic; I started at shadows which were to some degree the spooks of my own distorting fear and the effect of sensory overload on already overwrought nervous system.

Those we come across in the course of our everyday lives often lack perception and are much less helpful than we would wish.  Mostly this doesn't greatly matter since we can correct the balance through applying our native survival instincts.

When I most needed help any instincts of this variety had become either too visceral to be allowed expression or so watered down and lacking in focus as to make useful communication impossible, thus in the presence of doctors, bureaucrats and other official helpers I tended to be speechless, tearful, or to prattle on about irrelevancies.  That these professionals were for the most part unable to bridge the gap increased my distress, that and my own manifest inadequacies.  I often wished I hadn't tried. 

My personal boundaries had been shattered and with them my ability to look after my own best interests: I needed help, but had great difficulty locating it, asking for it if it could be found, and receiving it if it was offered and available.

So if you find yourself in similar strife it may be useful to focus on staying safe and to remind yourself how proper boundaries usually work - with all the usual imperfections.  Hang in there!

To go to the next article click this link:
Staying safe with personal disclosure 


maytey said...

I understand what you are talking about here. We can be our own worst enemies sometimes! It's sad and disturbing to dip into your chronicles and see what you have been through...but you give voice to the (formerly) inexpressable very eloquently. I look forward to reading some of your "moving forward" posts too. May xx

Leigh said...

Thanks for this, May.