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Author Topic: PTSD and potato salad  (Read 774 times)

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Offline justliving

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PTSD and potato salad
« on: September 03, 2013, 12:28:55 AM »
I joined this forum when I finally decided I couldn't continue living the way I was living.  I had to address my PTSD and anxiety levels.  I tried just ignoring my past and PTSD, but at 36 it caught up to me. 

So I wanted to share some stories as I go through my journey.  Hopefully some can relate. 

I have PTSD from a lot of different things from my childhood.  Part of it stems from my parents divorce when I was around 6. For the first time my siblings and I had to go to daycare.  And my mom found the cheapest one, because thats all she could afford.  We all hated it for various reasons.  But it was a really horrible time for us.  And so at the daycare they introduced new foods to me.  I had never had peaches, fruit cocktail, cole slaw, or potato salad before.  As a kid I hated them all.  I didn't want to eat them.  So as I grew older I stayed away from these foods.  I always associated that troubled time with those foods. 

So today, my loving girlfriend made dinner which included potato salad.  I was like, uhmm, I don't want any.  She inquired.  I told her I have never eaten potato salad as an adult.  The last potato salad I had was when I was in daycare and I hated it. 

She tried forcing me to eat it - told me it was good.  God it was such a funny sight in the kitchen.  I'm trying to force myself to eat it - I gaged every time the spoon got near my mouth.  I couldn't do it. I tried closing my eyes.  But I couldn't get over the past enough to try a bite.  So finally I just crammed it in my mouth.  It wasn't bad.  I actually did like it.  but it was still tough for me to eat.  I have a lot of bad memories around those times and these particular foods bring back those memories.  I have eaten fruit cocktail a couple of times as an adult, I've eaten a handful of peaches - but its difficult each time.  I tried potato salad for the first time tonight - and I haven't tried cole slaw as an adult yet.  I wonder what it tastes like  :sick0002:  LOL. 

anyways, just wanted to share with everyone and wanted to see if anyone else had experiences like this. 
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Online Cuchculan

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Re: PTSD and potato salad
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2013, 06:43:59 AM »
So you have associated foods with past events in your life. They are like your trigger. It is something you can work on. Slowly trying to eat the certain foods you know remind you of certain things. After all it wasn't the food that caused the problems. It was people around you. I would be trying these various foods out. Even have a journal handy. If anything bad comes to mind, just write it down. It may be one way to remember what you have been hiding away for so long. Bit like exposure therapy.
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Offline justliving

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Re: PTSD and potato salad
« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2013, 11:43:10 AM »
yup - exposure therapy.  Eating a peach later today - my lady is bring me home one tonight.  Well see how that goes :)
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Offline Calamy

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Re: PTSD and potato salad
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2013, 11:09:06 AM »
This is such a good story because it shows how when you're a child you have these imprints of feelings and activities and foods and everything and as adults we react to those things sometimes in really negative ways. I read your post to my husband because he is a really picky eater and says that he was forced to try and eat foods as a kid and now will never touch those foods. But he might like them as an adult, but won't give himself a chance because he connects those foods with being forced by his parents to eat them. We're exploring it a bit and he says, maybe something happened around that time and that's why I can't eat fish. He also doesn't eat cheese (but accidentally tried tiramisu which has marscapone cheese in it and he loved the tiramisu, so your adult and child self are the same but not the same.)

I thought about my own triggers (many) and how the entire North East USA is a trigger for me because I grew up in NY and associate the whole area with being sick in winter, it being cold and dark, the smells and sights etc. That's why as an adult I moved to Texas, but because of a lot of pressure from my husband's family in 2010 (and a "bribe" of giving husband a well paying job), I moved up here with all of my psyche kicking and screaming and I have hated it here for the almost 3 years I've been here. I hated it from day one and wanted to leave.

Now I think exposure therapy is good and it works and we can get over small things and even big things but I think in my case moving back up here was too much, too soon, and honestly I just don't want to live up in this part of the country at all because it doesn't suit my personality (or my wallet haha). I would definitely NOT suggest you have a feast of cole slaw, potato salad and fruit cocktail for 3 years;)

(There are different types of cole slaw and potato salad, maybe you can try one that is least like the one you had in daycare. Like if that one was creamy coleslaw, try the one that's more vinegary. Or if you had regular potato salad, try German potato salad which I think has some mustard in it. It might be a way to eat the thing but make it on your own terms and just different enough to have it not be "the same" thing. Good luck!!!!
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"Fear is such a vicious thing; it wraps me up in chains." - Tears for Fears, "The Working Hour"

Offline tjab

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Re: PTSD and potato salad
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2013, 10:28:03 PM »
Have you thought about trying to create good memories or associations to replace the bad when you try a trigger food?  You might pick a special occasion, a particularly good day, a unique/interesting place and try one of the trigger foods there in a small amount with other things so you have a better memory to combat the bad when you think of that food.
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Offline justliving

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Re: PTSD and potato salad
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2013, 10:58:06 PM »
Hi Tjab - no I haven't tried forming new memories around those particular foods.  However, I am eating potato salad - one a week - maybe once every other week.  I still associate it with my childhood memories but not as much. 
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Offline justliving

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Re: PTSD and potato salad
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2013, 11:05:05 PM »
Hi Calamy, I hope your husband liked my story. 

Where are you in Canada? I grew up in Phoenix - but I live in Portland, OR now.  Its a huge switch to go from one of the sunniest places in the country to one of the cloudiest places in the country.

As for your husband trying the foods as a kid.  You definately can't make anyone try something and the more you push the more he may feel like he is a kid again and doesn't have a choice. 

Another random story - My mom would buy turkey all the time.  All the time.  Turkey this and turkey that.  As a kid I was never allowed to voice my opinion or disatisfaction about anything - so I stuffed my frustration with turkey and as soon as I moved out I never bought turkey again.  I've been out of my parents place like 16 or 17 years now.  The last couple of months I started eating turkey again - LOL.  I actually like it.  Trader Joes (neighborhood grocery store) has some really good variety and I have been enjoying making sandwiches. 

While turkey may be a small thing - for me, turkey was just one of many things I wasn't happy about - but couldn't say anything.  I stuffed so much as a kid - made me sick at times.  So I turned my pain and frustration of not being allowed to speak against turkey.  Misplaced anger I suppose. 

Lately I have just been doing my best to make changes and resolve my past.  Little step at a time.  Eating turkey was one of those little steps  :bigsmile:

But like I said - your husband may or may not have the same issues as I do. And maybe he just doesn't like certain foods - but Cheese???  Come on??  Who doesn't like pizza??  Or cheese burgers??  Or mac and cheese?  Those are the BEST!!!   :yes:
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Offline eve

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ok... im not a professional, so im sorry if im way off base, but...
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2014, 03:27:53 PM »
ok... im not a professional, so im sorry if im way off base, but...if something is a trigger, why expose yourself to it...if some food or drink is a trigger, why not simply stay away from it...


it doesn't make any sense to me for you to endure pain just so you guys can have potato salad...if you had diabetes your gf would not insist that you have processed sugar....or sweets, she would have to cook taking your diabetes in account...

if you were a vegetarian or vegan, or allergic to gluten, or lactose intolerant, she would not make you eat foods that make you sick...

how is trigger foods different?

for my husband alchohol, or smell of alchohol is a trigger, for  me it isn't,  but it's easier for me to give up alchohol than to torture my husband and call it exposure therapy, also your gf is not a professional, only professional can treat you with 'exposure therapy...'

i am gluten intolerant, my  husband does not make me eat gluten, saying, "go on just eat it, and you will stop being intolerant..."

im sure people who date alcoholics do not encourage their SO to drink...etc...etc...

please do not be offended, but your girlfriend is being unreasonable, and disrespectful, and taking you traumatic disorder very lightly.....it's a condition that should be taken very seriously or at least as seriously as diabetes...

 or gluten intolerance...

if you made a choice to be a vegetarian, would your gf completely disregard that too, and traumatic disorder is not a choice it's a condition...

further more, you are a grown man and should not be MADE to eat food you dislike, you are not a kid who is struggling with veggies...and forcing the kid to eat veggies never works either...

i hope you take this in good faith, but i think maybe it's time for serious talk with your gf...

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Online Cuchculan

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Re: PTSD and potato salad
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2014, 05:46:11 AM »
I think you have things a little mixed up. We are not talking about types of food when we talk about exposure therapy. We are talking about situations. I had a fear of going out. Spent a decade in the house. To get over my fear I began to go back out. Not far to begin with. I knew the feelings I would experience would be horrible. Probably make me want to run back to my house again. But here is were the exposure therapy kicks into play. I didn't run back into my house. I stayed out. I let those bad feelings come on. Why? Because the more you let them come on the more the mind / body gets used to them. It makes them weaker. It is more just things that people fear that we say expose yourself too. I can't say this would work for food. Food is not a feeling. If you don't like a type of food, chances are you will never like that type of food. I have many types of food I would never ever go near. Not out of fear. Just because I hate them. If a certain type of food made me cringe every time I saw it, then I may try exposure therapy. I wouldn't eat the food. But just look at images of it. Images can't exactly harm you. But the bulk of exposure therapy is based around those people who have a fear of bridges, cars, shops, leaving a house, etc, etc. Things they can try and do over a period of time in a slow and safe way. What is a fear? Just a bad negative feeling. At worst it can make you feel bad for a while. But many people have gotten over fears by facing up to them. But we have to split the different types of fears up. Food is about taste. Either you like the taste of something or you don't. We wouldn't suggest exposure therapy for such a fear. A professional can't be there with you to hold your hand as you face up to your fears. Hence you have to learn to do it by yourself. It is not easy. I won't pretend it is. People have setbacks. But people just have to believe in themselves. Once you have that belief you will want to push yourself. Any roads. This is just my opinion. I used it to great effect. But I wouldn't suggest it for every thing. Only certain types of fears. This is were you have it all wrong.
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