I’m just going to make the assumption that everyone reading this article knows what a trigger is.(If I’m wrong, here’s a quick introduction). Triggers are complicated and are different for everyone. Shoot, even mine change over time. I guess the goal of this post is to share one person’s perspective/ viewpoints/ experiences with triggers to help people better understand them.
– Getting touched on the side of the ribs
– Depictions of sexual assault or my triggers
– Imagining/remembering getting triggered
– Angry male voices
What it’s like
My triggers come in two varieties. In the first, I get tense, anxious, distracted and I don’t feel present. Most of my triggers result in me feeling this way. The other reaction I have is exclusive to getting touched on the side of the ribs. It is a direct reminder of my experiences with sexual assault, so I get so scared that I can’t think. My whole body gets tense, I can barely breathe and I often get flashbacks.
The intensity of my reaction changes based on the circumstances.
I have a less severe reaction if I’m in a good mood, am mentally prepared and see it coming, am sober, feel safe, am triggered by someone I know and trust, etc. Also, the more a trigger reminds me of my experiences with sexual assault, the stronger my reaction.
They come in waves
Having a severe trigger makes me more susceptible/have stronger reactions to future triggering circumstances. Because of that, the amount of triggers I get tend to come in waves. For a few months my mental health will be great and I’ll have a few triggers. Then, I’ll have one that really throws me off for a few weeks, and potential triggers that normally don’t bother me become a bigger deal. In addition, I might have flashbacks to the trigger itself which can trigger me all over again to a lesser degree.
How my reactions have changed over time
If you’ve learned one thing by now, it’s probably that triggers are dynamic. They can even change over time. In short, my reactions have gotten less severe as I’ve developed my coping mechanisms. I’ve even worked with my boyfriend to try and desensitize me so that I don’t always freak out when someone touches the side of my ribs. Sometimes I have him rest his hand there as we watch TV so my brain learns that getting touched there doesn’t always mean my whole body needs to go on high alert. Here’s an article going into more detail about how mine have changed over the years.
Thank you for reading this article. You can find my full backstory here.