Triggers and Flashbacks are not Setbacks

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Hey everyone, first let me just apologize for being absent as far as blogging, I know I have some very supportive readers and followers who look forward to my blogs. After reading this particular post I believe it is safe to say that you will all understand why I have been absent. It was difficult for me to start writing this, and took me a couple weeks to even begin writing gain.

Triggers and flashbacks.

I hate them.

I mean i really HATE them!I had a trigger on Sunday June 20th 2016. I was on the train headed home from work and it happened. The train stopped at the station behind the apartment building where I used to live with my ex, our bedroom window faced the station. I had looked up from my phone and out the window, when my eyes locked dead on to one of the windows of the apartment where I used to live at. I was overwhelmed with emotion, after all these years. I got chills looking at these windows. I literally got goosebumps all over, and I could feel myself starting to panic. When I looked at the windows there was this dark eerie look to them, yet the sun was still shining bright.

It was like every single emotion I had ever felt in that place came rushing at me. Flashbacks of him clenching his teeth. Flashbacks of him choking me. Flashbacks of him pushing me on to the bed and straddling over me, punching the bed close to my head telling me if I move the wrong way and he hits me it is my fault. I could hear him. I could hear all the disgusting names he used to call me. All the things he used to accuse me of. It had all flooded my mind in an instant. For a time I was angry at myself for even allowing it to effect me the way that it had.

The one thing about triggers is that they can honestly happen at any given moment. Certain things may always be something we know as a trigger (scent,smell,sound) while others may not be so common but can abruptly cause a trigger; especially when someone is under a huge amount of stress, and believe me these last few weeks at work have been mighty stressful.

But this trigger was different, and maybe even one of my worst ones yet to date. It felt like the air had been knocked out of me. I was practically choking on my tears fighting them from falling down my face until I got off at my stop. My throat felt like it was closing up and my heart was beating at an incredible rate. My hands were shaky and sweaty. As soon as I stepped off the train at my stop the tears began to fall. I could no longer control it. Getting into my mothers car she asked me if I was okay. I told her “I will be okay.” One thing I love about her, she will never badger me for information; if I say “I am okay”, even if she knows I am not she knows that eventually I will come and talk to her.

Trigger definition

(from http://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-a-trigger/)

A trigger is something that sets off a memory tape or flashback transporting the person back to the event of her/his original trauma.

Triggers are very personal; different things trigger different people. The survivor may begin to avoid situations and stimuli that she/he thinks triggered the flashback. She/he will react to this flashback, trigger with an emotional intensity similar to that at the time of the trauma. A person’s triggers are activated through one or more of the five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell and taste.

The senses identified as being the most common to trigger someone are sight and sound, followed by touch and smell, and taste close behind. A combination of the senses is identified as well, especially in situations that strongly resemble the original trauma. Although triggers are varied and diverse, there are often common themes.

Types of triggers:

(also from the website http://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-a-trigger/)

Sound

  • Anything that sounds like anger (ie. raised voices, arguments, bangs and thumps, something breaking).
  • Anything that sounds like pain or fear (ie. crying, whispering, screaming).
  • Anything that might have been in the place or situation prior to, during, or after the abuse or reminds her/him of the abuse (ie. sirens, foghorns, music, cricket, chirping, car door closing).
  • Anything that resembles sounds that the abuser made (ie. whistling, footsteps, pop of can opening, tone of voice).
  • Words of abuse (ie. cursing, labels, put-downs, specific words used).

Smell

  • Anything that resembles the smell of the abuser (ie. tobacco, alcohol, drugs, after shave, perfume).
  • Any smells that resemble the place or situation where the abuse occurred (ie. food cooking ,wood, odors, alcohol).

Touch

  • Anything that resembles the abuse or things that occurred prior to or after the abuse (ie. certain physical touch, someone standing too close, petting an animal, the way someone approaches you).

Taste

  • Anything that is related to the abuse, prior to the abuse or after the abuse (ie. certain foods, alcohol, tobacco).

I share this because I want people to know that they are not alone. That even years after leaving I still have triggers. Yes it is possible. I know it is something that we do not want nor like dealing with, but it is something we have to live with due to the trauma(s) we have experienced. What we can do is learn how to deal and cope when we do experience triggers and flashbacks.

The thing that comforted me; was when I spoke to someone about this trigger event and she shared with me that she too deals with triggers. She said “90% of the time I am fine, I am okay. But then there is 10% where I am not.” That is exactly how I feel, 90% of the time I am good, but there is and always will be that 10% where I will have bad days, I will have to deal with triggers but I will pull myself together and come through it and you also will pull yourself together and get through it. Always remember that triggers and flashbacks are not setbacks. They are a part of us, but they do not define us.

 

5 thoughts on “Triggers and Flashbacks are not Setbacks

  1. Excellent and very detailed writing. I’m glad you are back. Your writing and blogging helps me to heal in a very specific way you validate what I’m experiencing. And this month you give me understanding and validation to what flashbacks & triggers represent. The holidays are the worst.❤

    • You know you are one of the top reasons why I had to write this. I kept telling myself how you have told me that my writing helps you. I did my best to push through this one. And I am so glad that you commented on it!!! 💜💜💜💜

  2. Thank you for sharing this. Trauma is hard but it good to see how others walk through it and work through it. It gives hope to others. I am so sorry you experienced what you have.

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