Triggers, Triggers Everywhere

Song of the Day: Summer of ’69 by Bryan Adams

I recently had to attend a family gathering, which thankfully was at my own house so I actually had a bit of a chance of getting away to my own space. As we all know, family gatherings are just full of questions such as:

“Are you losing weight?”

“Did you gain weight?”

“Why aren’t you eating?”

“Are you on a diet?”

“Why aren’t you in school?”

“What are you doing now?”

“Do you have a job?”

And etc etc etc.

I’m actually really sensitive to questions and comments regarding my situation and condition, so I take the questions as attacks rather than just simple inquiries. I know that sounds incredibly foolish but I really can’t help it. My anxiety level when it comes to being around people is just so high.

And so today I wanted to talk about triggers and how I kind of deal with them.

We all have our triggers, something that precipitates a destructive behavior as medical professionals call it. My list happens to be exhausting and somewhat arbitrary because I dealt with mania, depression, binging, purging, and restricting. Whenever someone said something about mental illnesses, especially when it was a joke, or eating, it would set me off.

For instance, today one of my uncles said it looked like I gained some weight. He reassured me that it was a joke but I actually went up to my room and teared up a little. I know deep down that I had to gain some weight but it sounded so negative that I thought he was mocking me. In my culture, the Filipino culture, everyone is always so observant of everyone else’s appearance. You could have gained a pound and they would have somehow known. I’m exaggerating of course.

So it’s easy to see why it’s difficult for me to spend time with people.

But I’ve slowly been learning how to manage with my triggers because there’s no way I can control what other people say out loud. Besides, a majority of the time they’re unaware that their statement or comment would have such an effect on you. I say “a majority” because there are some cruel people out there.

I guess what helps me the most is to catch myself right before I participate in the behavior.

There are two voices in my head: one is my illness and the other is just me. Sometimes the illness overtakes my reasoning but these days I’ve been fighting more and more to overcome it. When I’m faced with a trigger, my mind spins and my thoughts begin to race because these two voices are fighting for control. The key is recognizing your own voice. It’s difficult, but it’s possible.

My voice of reason forces me to look back at the consequences of my behaviors.

“Do you wanna be sedated in the ER?”

“Do you wanna be under lockdown in the institution?”

“Do you wanna pass out in the middle of the street?”

“Do you wanna be completely miserable again?”

“Do you wanna push yourself to the brink of madness?”

No, no, no, no, and no.

Obviously, I’m not perfect and sometimes one of the “no’s” turns into an “I don’t care.”

It’s easy to lose all hope when you have a mental illness because you have to deal with it for the rest of your life. I mean, I’m twenty and I still have a long way to go so fighting can get pretty exhausting. I’ve already gotten tired of it so many times and I’m going to get tired of it some more in the future. I just know it. I can never be fully content about the situation.

But there is still so much I want to do in my life, and I know you do too. No matter how old you are there is always something you want to do, something you haven’t had the chance to do just yet.

So don’t let the disordered voice win over your own. Don’t let it take over your life. Don’t let it win. You’re so much stronger than that.

You know that “fake it ’til you make it” saying? It works in this situation. You may not have to believe that you can overcome all this just yet. Act like you do, and eventually you will.

I’ve been writing these kinds of things in my personal journal for years and I’m only just starting to believe that I’m a strong, resilient person.

Whoever out there is having a difficult time, I hope you somehow find it in you to get through it.

I’ll be cheering you on!

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5 thoughts on “Triggers, Triggers Everywhere

  1. I have chosen this as one of the best mental health posts of the week and featured it on my blog in “Motherhood, Music, Memories, and Other Musings: Mental Health Monday.” God bless, Tony

  2. Hi Deirdre, There are always going to be triggers. I have found that exercise, meditation and reading about Buddhism have carried me through the worst of times. These will give you the space to see our emotions as what they are. They will give you the opportunity to choose how you want to react. ~ Dennis

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