Recently I discovered the cause of my inability to shop for groceries like a normal human being. It is not an emotional trigger, which is why numerous attempts at emotional self-regulation going into grocery stores failed. Rather, it is a sound frequency seemingly created by either refrigerator compressors, air conditioning systems, or both.
A while ago when I had trouble falling asleep, I tried listening to an eight hour recording with the Delta frequency (0.5–4 hertz), or binaural beats. It helped one night, but the following nights the sound recording kept me awake. I also tried other recordings, which all kept me awake. The Delta frequency is supposed to relax. I suppose I was relaxed, but asleep, no. Thinking back to that experiment leads me to think that certain frequencies of sound can negatively affect the PTSD brain. Maybe it is the sound frequencies from refrigerators and HVAC systems that disable me.
Every time I go into certain grocery stores, like Whole Foods, I start to dissociate. At least, I think that’s what happens. All I know is that making decisions while trying to shop becomes extremely difficult. I might even know what I want to get, but unless it’s an exact item, like a half gallon of Clover Organic whole milk with green letters on the carton, I get stuck in front of products at a loss. Too many choices, even two, paralyze me. Then I get overwhelmed and sometimes I cry. Having my dog helps, because I can say “pull” and Penny pulls on her leash and motivates me to leave the aisle.
Exercise also helps. After working out intensely for an hour at an Orange Theory gym, I am able to go into the same store where I’ve been stuck before and shop like a normal person. But I can’t always work out for an hour before every trip to the grocery store. I’ve tried Instacart and FreshDirect also, but that gets expensive and the items aren’t always exactly what I want.
To test my sound wave theory, I went into a store where previously I had been disabled, and I wore headphones with music playing through them. It worked. I didn’t get stuck or feel like I needed to leave.
There’s plenty of evidence of positive effects of certain sound frequencies on PTSD such as Veterans with PTSD praise audio-therapy results and Using Music To Treat Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. But it’s not as easy to find evidence of sound having a negative effect.
Does anyone out there have the same problem?