Being sucker punched by triggers.

In the age of trigger warnings, and political correctness, people forget one very simple thing – anything can be a trigger.

I am a firm believer in trigger warnings for content that is explicit. If I can avoid seeing images, or reading news I know will have an effect on me mentally, I will very happily avoid it.

But, whilst trigger warnings are all well and good, and I do appreciate them when I see them, I know all too well that in the grand scheme of life they’re essentially useless. In a controlled context that is the internet you can monitor your triggers – for the most part, but life has no such filter. It’s harsh, abrasive, and random. One minute you can go about your day, on top of the world then the next your heart starts pounding, sweat starts pouring out of you, and you want to curl up in a ball on the floor. Triggers are unflinchingly unapologetic – they don’t care if you’re doing the laundry, watching an movie trailer, or shopping in a store, they’re there.

For me, my triggers can range from a certain puppet in movie franchise, to smells and swells of a musical score. Even choice phrases said at the wrong moment, or actions can throw me back to a less than pleasant time. And my triggers aren’t all centered around just one trauma, I have been through many traumas – I joke that my brain collects trauma incidents like a stamp collector. They range in severity, type, and length, but they all leave a weight on my shoulders. But, I acknowledge all of them with an equal weight, because when in the grip of a trigger ‘flare’ my brain doesn’t care how minor the trigger seems, it’s happened. It’s set of a chain reaction my brain cannot control – yet.

Therapy is helping with my triggers, and it was a certain session that inspired this post. I’ve been convinced for quite some time that a few of my – let’s call them ‘hard limit’ triggers are ridiculous. I call them ‘hard limit’ triggers because I know what they are, and what they can do, and it’s not pretty. It’s only through talking about them, and realising there’s an association that goes deeper than I first believed that I’m realising they’re not ridiculous. That I’m not being ridiculous, and my reactions are normal for the circumstances.

This isn’t a post bashing trigger warnings, as I said I’m all for them, and nor is it a post to delve into the deep dark pit that is my brain. It’s a post to make you think, and remember to be kind to yourself. If there’s anything I’m always continually learning, it’s that. Being triggered by everyday acts is stressful enough in itself without adding more stress in the way of our own notions of how we should react.

We can be mindful of what we know, but there’s always so much we don’t know. Explicit content warnings are not useless when the topic matter is sensitive, and it’s relevant, but I’ve learnt that more often than not life will sucker punch you, and trigger you when you least expect it.