Effective TIPI, or sensory emotional regulation, requires an emotional response to a trigger to regulate properly. But with trauma, the response is too strong for the process to be effective. During practice one must be able to take attention away from the emotion and put it on physical sensations. For me, the phone call from the World Trade Center Victim’s compensation Fund triggered a re-traumatization. With PTSD, added trauma brings back symptoms beyond control.
When the phone call came, I was already stressed about my long commute to work. I never liked commuting more than a few blocks. It took 25 minutes to travel door to door from my building in Brooklyn to work at Penn Plaza in lower midtown Manhattan. Today, on a good day, it takes at least 50 minutes to drive to work, but usually over an hour. By transit, it takes more than an hour and a half. At least with transit, I can relax and let someone else drive. On the train I can write, like right now. But it’s hard for me. I dislike following a schedule. But I need to leave by a certain time to get to work by a decent hour, thankfully 10ish. I meet people who commute 3 hours a day every day for years and I don’t get it. The commute had made me consider quitting my job after a year. And I only go to the office three times a week.
Today my symptoms are so bad, I am taking Gabapentin again. Sensory regulation has helped at times. It reduced my depression. It calmed my anxiety when I felt it. And there’s the problem with PTSD. Usually, I can’t feel my anxiety. I only know I’m anxious because it’s hard to concentrate, my breathing is labored, and my heart skips. It’s as if my emotions are blocked by sensations. Don’t think TIPI will work with that.
Last week, I decided to move to alleviate the stress and cut down my transit commute from 1.75 hours to 1.5. I will also move someplace more sunny. I’m excited to move but the thought has exacerbated my symptoms. So, I’m back on Gabapentin. While sensory regulation has helped alleviate depression and anxiety when I felt it, it does nothing for my state now, especially because I can’t recall triggers. I will let the Gabapentin wear off and look for feelings to regulate.