I’ve been studying Indonesian kung fu for around 6 weeks now. I really enjoy it, but I’ve noticed it’s also heightening my anxiety/panic and dissociation. I generally do fine during classes, but afterward I notice I’m VERY on edge and frightened that everyone is about to try to hurt me, to an extent that borders on paranoia. I’ve had a few panic attacks after class, and the anxiety is heightening my dissociative symptoms.
I have particular trouble when we do verbal self-defense. I’m fine with the physical stuff, breaking holds and such, but forcefully saying no/stop/move back/etc. really freaks me out. Even though I feel comfortable with the instructors and the other students in my class, saying no triggers this fear of retaliation or punishment that doesn’t fit the situation. Knowing it’s an echo from my past doesn’t help me feel less frightened in the moment.
I was very involved in another martial arts style (US Yoshukai Karate) several years ago without problems with triggers, but I suspect I wasn’t getting triggered because I spent a lot of time using self-harm and my ED to manage my PTSD symptoms and numb myself to triggers. It’s new to me to be present and in my body while feeling triggered and terrified.
I’m considering scheduling a time to meet with the head instructor and talk about this with her, but I don’t know if I have the nerve. I’m also not sure what I would intend to accomplish with that, since I don’t want the class to be changed just to accommodate my anxiety/trauma issues. The head instructor is not the one who usually teaches my class, either. While I like the guy who teaches my class, he’s several years younger than me and male, which makes me uncomfortable bringing it up with him.
I guess what I’m looking for is some thoughts on how to handle this. I want to keep going to my class because I really enjoy it, but I don’t want to have panic attacks and dissociative symptoms afterward. Has anyone else been in a similar situation? I’d really like to hear how other people have dealt with it. (Thoughts are also welcome from people who haven’t been in the same situation.)