****Trigger warning – (I guess, as it’s about triggers!)****

Following an incident tonight*, I’ve decided I’m going to write about triggers.

Having being involved in the WordPress mental health blogging scene for a little while, I have become aware of many bloggers using “trigger warnings”, and I also use them myself in some of my posts. I did know what they meant by “triggers”, but usually the only ones that applied to me were posts about suicide and self harm, as the thoughts described often matched my own thoughts, and could make me want to act on them. However, I am generally able to maintain control, and so usually read posts which  have “trigger warnings” (unless I’m in a really bad place, in which case it is unlikely that I will be reading, and more likely that I will be writing.)

The reason that I’m writing about triggers tonight is that I realised what a massive effect my past has on my present. In particular, I mean what a huge impact my ex had and still has on my life.

~   ~   ~

I was out with friends for Mr Map’s birthday, and I was feeling alright, and although I wasn’t really in the mood to drink or go out (it is extremely cold, and I went out and got fairly tipsy last night) I was happy to go out because I wanted Mr Map to have a good birthday.

All was going swimmingly** until I was talking to one of my friends (Table thrower) who was very very very drunk, and decided it was a good idea to push me up against the wall. I freaked out, I ran away. I started crying. I was in panic mode. My heart was beating so fast, and I started to hyperventilate. Things like this remind me of what a huge impact my ex still has on my life, even though he is not a part of my present.

He is holding me against the wall, I am unable to breathe. Terrified. I can see the anger in his eyes…and I’m crying, and I’m apologising. My arms hurt from where he’s holding me, I hit my head on the wall as he grabbed me. I want to die. I want this all to be over. It’s all my fault. I’m sorry…please, I’m sorry.

And then I’m back in the club. I’m sitting on the toilet (lid down!) and I’m crying. I’m curling myself up, but the memories still haunt me. I can’t seem to escape them. Now the anxiety has kicked in, there is no escape.

And suddenly, it’s New Year’s Eve. I was late out of work. 10 minutes. I’m sorry, I’m really sorry. And he’s angry. He drives me home. We go into the empty house. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. And he’s angry. He’s shouting, I’m crying. WHY ARE YOU SO PATHETIC? And his hands are round my neck, I’m pinned against the wall. The wall I have to see everyday I’m at home, the wall in my bedroom, a place that’s meant to be safe. I’m sorry. Please. I’m gasping. Can’t breathe. Please. Stop. He throws me to the ground. We’re on the landing. He’s on top of me, holding me down. Scared. Please. Stop. Please. You’re hurting me. Please, I’m sorry. I won’t be late again, I’m sorry. He stops. My ears still ringing, tears still pouring, heart still pounding. Run! Downstairs. Vodka. I drink it straight from the bottle. I need to escape. He’s coming. I’m going to be drunk, then it won’t hurt. I throw myself at him. “Come on let’s go upstairs, I’ll make it up to you.”

Just thinking about these memories still gives me shivers. I feel sick and I can’t enjoy myself anymore. I wanted to go home, I didn’t want to ruin Mr Map’s night. I didn’t go home. I went out, Footballer was looking for me. We went back out onto the dancefloor. The sound of booming music rushes through my ears. The crowds of people swirl around me. I’m standing there, hoping it’s time to leave soon.

~   ~   ~

Everyone has different triggers. Mine are usually based on actions rather than reading words. Sometimes the smallest, most insignificant thing can be a trigger…a smell, a taste, something someone says.

The way I react to a triggering situation like this is probably not the best way, but it’s probably not unusual either. Rationally, I know this is a completely different situation, I don’t need to be scared. But the fight-or-flight system kicks in, and before  I know it, I’ve run away and I’m hiding in the toilets.

I also had a similar experience last night, although it only caused minor panic. My friend put her arm round me , and ended up with her arm across my neck. I freaked out, as it reminded me of similar situations to the ones described above. On that occasion  I only had a minor freak-out, and I was able to regain composure very quickly.

I think triggers are a very important part of dealing with mental illness. I hope to tackle some of these memories in counselling (when I eventually get to see someone!) It really brings the realisation that even though I am feeling pretty good at the moment, (read about it here!!) there are still HUGE issues that need to be dealt with.

It also reminds me that I want to help other people who are suffering or have suffered abuse. Abuse comes in so many forms: physical, mental, verbal, sexual, emotional…the list goes on. Abuse is not ok. In this post, I have described some memories from my time with my ex, who did not treat me well at all, but a lot of the abuse wasn’t physical like this, more of it was mental/verbal/emotional, and ALL types of abuse are valid…they are not okay, and they are not any less significant than physical abuse. If anyone is reading this and they are being abused in any way, I want to say that I am always here if you need a chat ( and that you need to get out of the situation. There are many organisations that can help people who are being/have been abused.

I am ashamed to admit that I let my ex treat me in the way that he did, and as you can read from my thoughts, I still blame myself for a lot of it. This is something I still need to work on. It was not okay, and it was not my fault. These are the two things I try to keep reminding myself.

*as I am writing this, it is currently 3:27am on Sunday 4th November, although by the time this is published, it will be Sunday afternoon.

**For some reason the word “swimmingly” is an appealing word to me. It also reminds me of Finding Nemo, although I’m not sure why it reminds me specifically of Finding Nemo.


15 thoughts on “Triggers

  1. aallegoric says:

    I’m sorry for everything you went through. Maybe you can just tell people not to touch you.. I know that sounds weird but most people in my surrounding know that I’m not a person that needs a hug whenever we meet up though I never directly said that. I guess it’s just my body language that says strictly NO whenever someone wants to hug me and I don’t want it to happen. But of course, this would easily deprive you of physical contact and physical contact isn’t all that bad.
    I hope you’ll be able to work through this and your horrible experiences. You already said it but I’ll repeat it because it’s so important: It’s not your fault. xx

    • anxiouselephant says:

      Thanks Juliet! I’m fine with hugs, its just people touching my neck and making me feel trapped that I don’t like. Most people know that, but when people are drunk they don’t remember stuff like that sometimes! xx

  2. Bourbon says:

    I am so glad you are away from that excuse of a man. It is so horrible having to deal with memories being triggered up or feelings beig triggered up at least. I can relate to the neck trigger. (((Hugs if wanted))). Your strength to deal with this shite is admirable xx

    • anxiouselephant says:

      I am glad I’m away from him too! Ironically, having not heard from him for over a month, after writing this post I received a text from him, although I think he’s finally taking the hint that I’m ignoring him! And I’m sorry that you can relate to the neck trigger, it’s horrible isn’t it? Hugs are definitely wanted, sending lots back too! (If wanted! :P) xxx

  3. Kevin Daniel says:

    Wow, very personal. This post intrigued me since I’ve been learning about “triggers” in my psych class. I appreciate your ability to be honest and transparent on this blog.

    • anxiouselephant says:

      Thank you, I use my blog as an outlet for all my feelings and thoughts, and so share a lot of my own experiences. What did you learn about triggers in your psych class? (I’m also a psychology student, we don’t really cover any mental health stuff though this year)

  4. buckwheatsrisk says:

    you’ve been through so much. i’m sorry he treated you that way, he should be ashamed not you. i understand the neck trigger too. i had to work through it in therapy.
    lotsa love xo

  5. truthsparked says:

    I just got to read this now. Thank you for writing about triggers. I had forgotten how much of an impact they have. I actually had an incident at work! I work in a city hospital and we generally get all the broken bones, overdoses and drunken disorderlies. One night we had an admission of a very drunk, obnoxious man-about my ex husband’s age. I freaked out on the floor. For some reason I thought he was going to start yelling at me and calling me names, like my ex used to. I took a few minutes and composed myself but had to recognize my fear as irrational, this man didn’t know me and wasn’t about to abuse the hospital staff. Now I prepare myself before hand if I know our admission is going to be in that category. It can be so disconcerting when you aren’t prepared, and how horrible that you can’t always prepare for it, like in your situations with your friends! xoxo

    • anxiouselephant says:

      Thanks for your reply. I also often forget what an impact they have, until they happen! Like you described, it’s difficult to remain rational when these instances occur! I’m glad you’re able to plan ahead and try and deal with these things before they become a problem, that’s really good 🙂 xx

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