Mental Health: Triggers

Triggers for mental illness comes about in different forms. You can look at an object or say a certain phrase and it would trigger traumatic memories or feelings within a person. These triggers are different from person to person, circumstances to circumstances.

The feeling whenever a trigger is pricked is a tricky experience to explain. Imagine a movie you’ve watched. Something that made you cry or pushed you over the edge of your seat. A trigger is like watching the whole movie, but instead of having 1-2 hours of emotional build-up time, you get hit by it within the matter of seconds and minutes.

Now, have that same experience, but scale it for traumatic events. Like the death of a loved one, childhood abuse, rape, torture, years of bullying. Pick any of that, and squeeze the entire experience down into a single instance of time. That’s what a trigger for the mentally ill can feel like.

Your mind is a room. And in that room, there are certain doors. Doors that you might prefer to keep shut. You lock them up and throw away the key. Thing is, the key isn’t destroyed. It’s still out there. And at any time, the door could open again.

For me, one of my trigger is a specific track of music from a game. It was a game I was playing prior and during one of the worst bout of depression I’ve ever had, and the music and story was emotional enough that they might have actually been a causing factor in my sadness.

During my recovery from that battle, for a few months, whenever I hear the music, I could instantly break into an episode. And I’m not talking about just feeling sad. No. I could lose the will to move, losing the physical strength to even stand. I could break out in tears or have a psychotic breakdown if I was also stressed at the time. It took two years of gradually training myself with the music before I could disassociate myself enough from it to enjoy the soundtrack fully.

It’s like riding downhill on a bike with no brakes. The ride is your life. The trigger is a sudden stone in the path. When you hit it, you fall, and it’s going to hurt and do a lot of damage. But if you patch up quickly, see a doctor, and get some rest, you’ll be fine. If you continue down the hill, you’re going to start bleeding out.

Triggers come from associating traumatizing events with specific objects, actions, sounds, images, or actions. It’s an everyday thing. So, personally, I think the only way to get over a trigger is to make them a routine in life.

Now, I will warn that I am not a professional councillor or mental health advisor. The only thing I am doing is speaking from my own experience. So, if you have severe triggers and trauma, do seek medical attention.

On to my advice. As I was saying, triggers are traumatic things. And the only way to get through them is to slowly get use to it. For me, the track that once triggered my depression, I spent 2 years listening to it, once a day, to slowly get use to the tone and feeling. Now, I can listen to it emotionally, but it doesn’t get to me as it use to.

Time and experience will heal the wounds of the past. There will be a scar that tingles, but it’s the only way to get past that mental block that I know of. I still have many fears. I still have many scars. But I do my best to not let these bumps in the road be drivers of my life.

There’s one more thing you can do with these triggers, these mental blocks. Use them in a way that no one else can. Because not everyone will experience this. Use these triggers to help people.

These are hardcore experiences. These are emotional traumas that almost no one else in the world will ever relate to. Not everyone will experience rape or bullying, family violence or senseless beatings. Not everyone have fought for causes, seen close ones die unnatural deaths. Not everyone can relate.

But the people who suffers from these triggers, these mental blocks, they can relate. They can bring the word out to larger populations. They can use their experience to bring others to the forefront, to make others not go through the same harrowing life they did.

I was told once, “What do you do with that pain? You hold it tight. Let it burn. Feel it in your bones. Know it. Familiarize yourself with it. Understand it. Then make everyone understand the pain they cause by dishing it. Empathize. Help others. Do something good.”

That’s the crux of it. Bad experiences create triggers. Question is, do you want that trigger to be the one of a pistol, or the start of a cause?

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