Triggers are something that gets made fun of a lot. I think people started using ‘trigger warnings’ for things that seemed quite trivial to a lot of people, and it took the meaning away from the word. Now, if you talk about triggers, people think you’re being over sensitive. They don’t realise that for a lot of people triggers are a very real, very scary and very awful thing.

I have a few triggers. I grew up in an abusive household and have Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD). There are things that ‘trigger’ me and put me back in that mindset, the mindset of being in danger, powerless and terrified. Things like shouting, not even directed at me, just in the same area, causes me to freeze up. It become harder to breathe. My heart starts racing. I can’t think. My body kicks in the fight or flight reflex and pumps me full of adrenaline. Any kind of confrontation is the same. I sit and shake for ages afterwards. Shouting, certain gestures, even being in my childhood home, are all triggers. Unfortunately, I still live in my childhood home, something that contributes largely to my poor mental health.

Triggers don’t only come from PTSD. There are also things that can trigger mood swings. For example, tonight I was feeling pretty good, better than usual. I had a long, busy day at work, so I hadn’t had time to dwell on my thoughts. I got home and was watching my current favourite tv show. I went out to get a drink of water before bed and my little brother made a comment, something he thought was a hilarious joke, about how he and my mother were going to get me a garbage skip for Christmas.

Now, this might not make a lot of sense, but let me explain. My room is always messy. I’ve tried to keep it clean and tidy, but so much of the time finding motivation to get out of bed is too difficult, let alone to clean. I have bursts of energy and I’ll clean for a while, then it’s like getting hit in the face, and I just can’t do it. I also learnt when I was younger that if my room is messy my father won’t come in here, which means it’s safer. My bed is right at the opposite end from the door and there’s an obstacle course separating the two. In a house where I often hid in cupboards for hours to avoid him, that kind of safety is highly prized.

But why did that joke hurt so much? Well, it was like a slap in the face. I was so cheerful and happy and then BAM a reminder that I’m not good enough. A reminder that they talk about me behind my back, they make jokes together at my expense. I know all this, but it’s still not nice having it through in my face, especially around this time of year when everyone talks about how important family is. What really sucks is they wouldn’t have any idea how badly it effects me. How I went into my room and cried and cried, while they laughed. What’s worse is I don’t think they would care. I’m just being too sensitive. And that’s where the issues really come in. People don’t understand that when you have a mental illness, you’re not going to react the same to things. Teasing might just seem like teasing to some people, but to others it’s soulcrushing. It’s not being too sensitive, it’s reacting to something that really cuts deep. But because they don’t experience the same, they can’t understand it, and they don’t like it when you “ruin” their joke. They expect you to laugh along, and when you don’t, they get offended. We’re not allowed to get offended. But they are.

In my last post I talked about suicide and how I deal with those feelings. Triggers are different. They’re often unpredictable and difficult to avoid. They hurt. People judge. It sucks. But being aware of triggers is very important. There’s not a lot I can do when someone around me yells. As I said before, it makes me freeze up. I have learnt that repeating the phrase “It’s okay, you’re safe” outloud to myself does help, but that’s only once the trigger, or what my brain sees as the threat, has been removed. Dealing with triggers is something I’m still learning about. I recently got the book¬†The Body Keeps The Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk which was recommended to me by a psychologist I was seeing. She thought it might help with the triggers, learning how the mind and body stores the traumas. I haven’t started reading it yet, but when I do, I’ll make a post about it. I’m hoping it will be good, that it will help.

As always, I feel a bit better after writing. Still crap, but that seems to be the norm at the moment. Probably due for another medication switch up, but that’s another post entirely. So, I guess this is where I say goodnight and settle down to sleep.





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Dear Auntie…

I’ve been an aunt since I was six years old. Nearly 16 years on and I have eight nieces and nephews. Being an aunt at six is entirely different from being an aunt at 21. For one thing, I’m now considered an adult and therefore responsible, although sometimes I think I’m just as childish as they are!

I once heard someone describe being an aunt as a “thankless job” and I can honestly say that is a massive pile of bulls*** and it’s sad that someone could feel that way.

I recently had two of my nieces over for a craft day. The first thing we did was paint our faces. I painted theirs and then let them paint mine. It was messy and I looked liked I’d tried to put my makeup on in the dark with a shovel, but we were having fun. Then we did some painting which became finger painting which became hand painting which became “How did you get paint THERE?!” There was paint absolutely everywhere and we had to spend ages trying to get it off before we could go inside again. When it was time for lunch they decided they didn’t like the “orange spaghetti and ants”, aka carrot and sultanas, that I’d made, so I had to quickly throw something together as we were out of bread while two hungry girls kept trying to “help”. At the end of the day we were covered in paint, glue, googly eyes and bits of pipe cleaners. We were tired, hot and sticky. And we were incredibly happy.

Each time I see my nieces and nephews I remember how lucky I am to have them. They might not say “thank you” or “I love you” but they don’t have to. When they come into the house and immediately start telling me about something that happened a school, knowing I’ll listen with interest, I know. When they bring me a book and are half way onto my lap before I realise what’s happening, I know. When they bring me a piece of paper that has a scribble on it, I know. When my 9 month old niece leaned towards me from her mum’s arms for a cuddle for the first time, I knew. I have a whole wall full of little notes and drawings that remind me.

Being an aunt is an easy job. We get to play with the kids, laugh with them, cuddle them and give them back when they start getting cranky. We get given squished flowers that have been carried all the way from the park just because “You like yellow”. We get to watch these amazing, brilliant, beautiful little creatures grow into hilarious, clever, fantastic young men and women and we get to love them with all our hearts the whole way. If that’s not enough of a “thank you” then I don’t know what is.