PTSD: Why do I have a ‘short fuse’?


“She’s such a nice girl”.

I’ve never recognized why I developed a short fuse or experience sudden outbursts of anger while growing up until I was in my therapy session last week. My therapist and I are seldom at odds, yet one particular thing she said ticked me off and I snapped at her which resulted in anger.

We talked it through and resolved the issue, but I was shocked when she said, “when angry, the PTSD kicks in just like that”. I never connected anger, irritability or having a short fuse before with PTSD, but it makes sense.  Yes, I have a ‘short fuse‘ and I’m terribly impatient at times.

I’ve been termed ‘such a nice girl’ often, and to others, I suppose I am. Well-mannered, respectful, soft-spoken, compassionate, but underneath, I’ve held back anger on many occasions. Outside smiles, inside tears.

During most of my hospitalizations and through my worst years of depression, I cooperated with the hospital routine, took my meds like a good girl, went to bed when scheduled and didn’t cause trouble. I got a ‘gold star’ for that, “Deb, she’s such a nice girl”.

Even as a kid, all throughout my life, at school, work, to my parents….you get the picture. I had a hellish home life living as an unloved daughter of a narcissistic mother, who beamed when outsiders would say, “Your Deb, is such a well-behaved girl“.

At home, with my husband, I fly off the handle sometimes and become angry “just like that”. I’ve improved, perhaps age, therapy and knowing the sexual or emotional abuse wasn’t my fault has helped, but I still have to be aware of it.

As I worked through my PTSD in therapy, I understood how difficult it is for survivors to trust, struggle with anger issues and also surprisingly becoming critical of people close to them. The impact of my sexual and emotional abuse means always being on guard, my history of having few friends and feeling over sensitive and emotional.

PTSD takes such a toll on a person, is so damaging and people who have never experienced this disorder cannot begin to feel the problems it brings to the lives of families or spouses. Just so you know, my husband (of 37 years) has been so patient, is a calm person, and has stood by me through all of this trauma. I’m so fortunate. Thanks, hun.

Article written and copyrighted by Deb McCarthy 2016

These are helpful articles explaining anger and PTSD

originally posted on my page

6 thoughts on “PTSD: Why do I have a ‘short fuse’?

  1. I think the biggest healing comes for us when we can have our anger without shaming ourselves for it. If you have to be chronically nice its a given you are burying anger somewhere and what is buried in time will be retriggered. We have work to do to work on our triggers as they give us valuable information about what we need and don’t need, what we can bear and what we cannot. Without this information how can we be healthy or start to set better boundaries?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for commenting. I never realized that I had such a ‘short fuse’, but I do, and I blame it on past issues, and as you said best triggers. Triggers can work both ways for me ~ either falling apart at the seams or reacting in anger.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes I have both reactions too. I am understanding it comes from being age regressed and that is where I need to do the work to find what wound is being triggered and how to look after myself by listening to what its about deep within and finding best ways of taking care of myself without acting it out and if I do act it out understand what the consequences are.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. dbest1ishere

    I understand the anger that goes along with PTSD….well I do and I don’t. I too can go from fine to extremely angry within seconds. I can’t control it even though I wish I could.

    Liked by 1 person

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