It turns out to have a name

I have a name to my condition, the Anniversary Effect. Thank you Nightwing for bringing this to my attention. Feeling less shameful about having this reaction as I seem to not be the first.

Now recording so I remember…

The “Anniversary Effect”, is a collection of disturbing feelings, thoughts or memories that occur on or around a date that marks a significant event. You could be feeling sad, irritable, anxious, emotionally shutdown, or unable to sleep, and a quick glance at the calendar will help you to connect this emotional state to a traumatic event. It might be the birthday of a loved-one you have lost, the due date of a miscarried baby, or the day an assault or accident happened. As that date nears, bad memories start to resurface, and you will realise that you are experiencing the annual echo of a trauma.

Some psychology researchers think that the anniversary reaction should be listed as a symptom of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), because even though being reminded of difficult feelings around an anniversary is a very common and normal part of the grieving process it can be really distressing. Anniversary reactions are also a signal that you are not yet over the trauma of your experience, and need to process or work through your grief.

As with many psychological phenomena, the anniversary effect happens for a reason. Research shows that our brains store painful, sad or traumatic memories in an easily accessible way so that we can be reminded of, and warned off, the dangers to protect us from something similar happening again.

Common symptoms:

  • Intrusion. Perhaps the most common reaction on the anniversary of a trauma is a reactivation of the feelings, physiological responses, and thoughts that occurred at the time of the event. CHECK. GOT THAT.
  • Avoidance. Another type of response associated with PTSD is the avoidance of trauma-related stimuli. Sometimes the feelings that are reactivated by the anniversary are so strong that people try to avoid situations, places, or people that are connected to the event.
  • Negative alterations in cognitions and mood. When the anniversary of an event is approaching, it can lead to sadness. Some people may find it difficult to connect with friends and family. Old thoughts of guilt or shame may resurface. Sad. Check. GUILT & SHAME of feeling this way when Jacob is doing well and others are not are out of control.
  • Arousal and reactivity. A fourth kind of reaction is to feel nervous and on edge. The reactivation of the traumatic memory as an anniversary approaches might be so intense that it is difficult to sleep or concentrate. Some people become more irritable and jumpy and others feel like they have to be more on guard. CHECK.

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