Friday, May 23, 2014

Warning: Triggered

I am triggered.

I know that that's a term that some people think is over-used or cliche'd. They think that warnings used to prevent people from getting triggered are senseless and leave to a feeling over over-protecting and coddling people who just need to buck up and deal with their feelings and not restrict the "freedoms"...

Clearly these people haven't ever survived a trauma.

I have.

I've survived many. More than I like to think about. More than any person should.

One trauma is too much.

I don't talk about my traumatic experiences often. This is not because I feel shame or embarrassment. It is also not because I can't talk about them without getting "emotional" or "upset".

I can, and do, talk about these events in very pragmatic ways- personal yes, but not necessarily overly emotional.

I'm not exactly know for being an 'overly emotional person'

(unless you ask my mom, who is absolutely convinced that I am in a constant state of dramatic and theatrical climax...which is, again, why I would not consider her an "expert" on me...)

Most people, or at least most people who have talked to me about it, actually think of me as being a little cold, a little stoic, a little hard to read, and completely unafraid of conflict or uncomfortable topics. I have very little need for privacy when it comes to events, but am extremely unlikely to talk about my feelings on them.

Feelings are private.

Very private.

So yeah- I can talk about things like losing my hair when I in treatments. Or my experiences as a sexual assault survivor and former counsellor. Or how upsetting and traumatic it is to argue with people who think that your son shouldn't have the right to be alive.

And I do talk about these things pretty frequently, though not necessarily divulging much private information (like feelings...)

But an awful lot of mental preparation goes into these dialogues. I get myself emotionally and spiritually ready for what I am going to encounter. I pick my time, my days, even my minutes very carefully. I don't talk out-loud about certain aspects that I know will be too difficult manage vocally without losing control of my emotions. I communicate in written format much more easily and can take the time to really frame my ideas...

I do an awful lot of things to keep myself from getting "triggered".

Most people who get "triggered" do. On a daily basis.

I have walked out of theatres. Stopped reading books. Left parties. Ended friendships with people.

I will do whatever it takes to not get triggered.

It's a survival instinct.

But sometimes, no matter what I do, I can't help it. It happens.

And sometimes, for a variety of- usually unrelated reasons- I get triggered repeatedly, in a variety of different ways, to the point of going into what is commonly referred to as a 'mental meltdown' or a 'mental breakdown'.

In these moments, I become almost completely incapacitated.

I have a hard time sleeping. Eating. Thinking. Breathing.

You know, all of those things that you need to stay alive...

I expect everyone experiences meltdowns differently.

For me, it feels like dying. The kind of dying where you wish it would just happen already so that it would stop hurting.

And it takes me days to recover.

It has been three days since my meltdown.

I don't want to talk about why it happened. That will make it worse.

I just want to tell you that my hands are still shaking. And my vision is still blurry. And my stomach is still tied in knots.

I want to tell you that I will be seeing a doctor today because I don't think I can pull myself out of this without anti-anxiety medications- a treatment that I have not needed in over a decade.

I want to tell you that just because YOU don't get triggered by a topic, doesn't mean that I don't get triggered by a topic.

And just because YOU don't feel that Trigger Warnings are a good thing, people like me NEED them.

And even then we sometimes forget to use them. And we trigger others and ourselves inadvertently.

And it takes days to recover.

Some people don't recover.

So as nice as it is for you to discuss what is best for helping me overcome my 'mental health issues', I'd sure appreciate it if you let my doctors and I sort it out.

I'm going to go back to my corner now and shake for a little while and count the minutes until my husband comes home and hope that this feeling passes soon.





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