****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 (email@example.com) 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.