The world doesn’t come with a trigger warning. I read this a few weeks ago and it stuck in my mind because although harsh, it’s very true and made me realise a few things about my own issues.
You never really realise how much things effect you or how far you’ve got to go in your recovery journey until you’re triggered by something. Sometimes out of nowhere. I remember being on a walk not too long ago and feeling extremely triggered by a few people on the road. My heart started racing, I felt paranoid and self conscious, my anxiety went through the roof and I had to cross the road to avoid them. It was the first time in a very long time I felt so triggered. I didn’t know what to do, what to say, what would help and what would make things worse. I simply tried to suck it up and ignore it, but as we all know, this never really works.
The anxiety, thoughts and feelings lasted a while. I ended up feeling just as I had felt in the past when a similar situation had occurred. It made me feel like the trauma was happening again even though I logically knew that it wasn’t. I felt stupid, ridiculous, pathetic to let these people get to me, but I couldn’t help how I reacted, and all I could do was deal with it in the moment.
It wasn’t until after the event and some significant time later I might add, that I calmed down and was able to think rationally about the entire situation. But even now, as I write this, and I think back to that moment months ago, I feel a small bit similar anxiety bumping around in my chest. Triggers can be extremely hard to deal with and not pleasant to experience. They can also be unpredictable, not knowing when or where it’ll come from. But sometimes we can be predictors of when they may hit, which is why people normally place “trigger warning” on certain pieces of content.
So how do we deal with the triggers then? The best way are grounding techniques as well as rationalisation. Taking a moment to breathe, counting down from 5 and reminding yourself of what your senses are taking in. Being totally in the moment and not allowing your mind or emotions to be sucked into the triggers caused by the past. Rationalising your thinking by being more logical about the scenario you’re in. Realising that the past is the past and that the event is no longer happening and will never happen. It’s simply a reminder of old times and nothing more. We are more powerful than irrelevant fears and flashbacks in our minds, they’re not real, but where we are in the moment is and we are safe.
It’s impossible to avoid all triggering elements of the world, though we can be weary and mindful of what kind of things we look at online or at home for example. We must simply try to navigate the world as best we can, armed with the tools we’ve learned in order to combat these triggers. The world is what it is, and we cannot blame it. All we can do is try and be prepared for any triggers that may be faced and use our therapeutic knowledge to fight our irrational minds.