My Story isn't Over Yet! Chapter 1
My Story isn't Over Yet! Chapter 2-Moving Forward
My Story isn't Over Yet! Chapter 3 Make Your Voice Heard
My Story isn't Over Yet! Chapter 4 Warning signs of Abuse
My Story isn't Over Yet! Chapter 5 Suicide is Not the answer!
My Story isn't Over Yet! Chapter 6 Triggers
My Story isn't Over Yet! Chapter 6 Triggers
What is the definition of "Triggers?"  Triggers are extreme emotions which can cause debilitating flashbacks, intense emotional and physical reactions, such as smells, sounds, things we see and hear on tv, something as small as a physical touch, certain words we hear and see, and even mind debilitating hallucinations. Especially in individuals who suffer from severe PTSD, such as myself. Triggers are very common among people who have been severely abused. Many peoples triggers can get so bad, it can sometimes require emergency medical treatment, and in some severe cases, even hospitalization. Many individuals will feel physical and emotional effects from their triggers. They will feel as though, their whole world is coming to an end and that can lead to feeling as though they are having a heart attack, due to their high and ramped up anxiety going full force. That in turn, will cause extreme chest pains, shortness of breath, even the debilitating effects of hyperventilating. Those that suffer from PTSD, and extreme anxiety will generally get treated with psychiatric medications, and will have to work closely with a psychiatrist to better mentally and physically function out in society, to stride to live a somewhat normal life. 

Thinking back, I can't precisely remember the month or the day. I do however remember when I was around 6 years old. I do remember what season it was, what the weather was like, where we lived, what I was wearing, what he was wearing and what had happened, one second before. My senses and triggers to this day, still remembers it all. Around later springtime every year, I tend to start having triggers that I still find myself reacting to, that brings back moments of painful flashbacks, and uncomfortable memories.

Over the years, all the trauma that had been inflicted on me, started taking a major effect on my emotions, my mental function, and my behavior. Darkness started surrounding, what was once sunshine into my childhood innocence. My emotions and mental function were extremely high. I started becoming reserved and shy. The denial then turned into doing things to avoid the deep internal and external pain. I started partying and drinking with my friends alot, engaging in reckless behavior, trying pot, I even went as far as cutting my skin open with a sharp knife, and pushing down on my skin with a really hot lighter. I felt such disgust against my body image and myself so much, that self-care was not a priority for me anymore. It also affected my everyday decisions that in turn, led me to choose the wrong crowd, due to looking to be loved and accepted. Being I obviously wasn't loved and accepted in my own home. By choosing to hang around the wrong crowd, those decisions inflicted more trauma on me. I got to the point, I didn’t like myself, I had blamed myself for everything that traumatically had been done to me. So why did I deserve better for myself? I thought I didn’t deserve to be loved or nurtured as a person. I thought to myself time and time again, I must have MADE my adopted father and my friends boyfriend, do such a thing! I couldn't get it out of my head, that I must have some how led them on, I must have been ok with it, as I didn’t try hard enough to stop them, or go running and crying to anyone. I had such hate for myself and felt horribly ashamed.

With all the horrifying abuse I've been through, I still to this day have my triggers, both internal and external. There are two different forms of triggers I can name right off the top of my head. The first one being internal triggers. Those for example can be defined as anywhere from, a thought, a feeling, a flashback, an emotion, or bodily sensation. The second form of triggers are defined as external triggers such as certain situations, like a sexual action from your spouse or partner, or something your spouse or partner says or does. There are also other triggers such as certain people who look or act like your perpetrator, there can also be certain locations that can spark a trigger, conversations can come up that can bring you back to your trauma. Some triggers might become very obvious, such as hearing and seeing arguments, having an argument with your spouse or partner, slamming of doors, a gun shot, the back firing of a vehicle, the sound of a motor cycle, or seeing abuse on tv or out in public.

Triggers can become very personal and real, they are very difficult to experience. It can also be very frustrating, to try and identify what those triggers may be. For survivors of abuse, here are some examples of triggers:

Certain sounds, such as yelling, glass breaking, a door slamming.

Witnessing a couple arguing, or going through an argument with a spouse or partner

Sights from locations where you were attacked

The smell of an attacker’s cologne or perfume.

A specific color, pattern or style of clothing that your abuser often wore.

Sitting or standing closely by another person, especially a male.

Touch from another person, such as a hug or a pat on the back. Even just someone placing a hand on your arm or leg

Unitentional questions and or comments made by someone else, that a survivor’s controlling abuser used to make, such as “What did you do today?” or “Who are you talking to on the phone?” or "Where are you going?"

Anniversaries of dates of the abuse

A survivor could also be triggered by the anniversary of a significant date, such as the perpetrators birthday, you could see a news report about abuse or you could see someone who reminds you of your attacker.

When a trigger happens, survivors shouldn’t be surprised if a memory/flashback, spontaneously replays in their mind. Survivors will still experience some form of emotions or physical reactions that he or she has associated with their experience of abuse. Those reactions can be things such as a panic attack, extreme anxiety, nausea, crying, hyperventilating, irritability, being easily startled by fear and paranoia. A survivor who has been a victim of abuse that experiences past flashbacks from a trauma, will go through multiple emotions only minutes apart from each other. Having past flashbacks can carry such a heavy burden on a person, and when they experience them, it can be a very powerful emotion. It is however not uncommon at all, for a survivor’s reaction to be different than others. Everyone reacts differently in their own way.

Here are some ways that will help you work through your triggers. Small triggers can be easy to avoid, like not driving by your old home, where the abuse occured. (I still do that to this day), or you can suggest to your husband or partner to switch cologne's, you can also avoid going to that certain restaurant, church, school, store, where he or she works. But when it comes to triggers you can't work through, that aren't so easy to avoid. What do you do? Those answers are:

One thing you'll want to remind yourself of is that triggers can, and will, happen. It’s also important to know that no one is perfect. Survivors need to take into account that there will be times we're not always gonna be ok 100% of the time. After going through a traumatic event in our lives, it will take a good bit of time, even years (like myself) to get to a point in your life where those once so significant triggers of smells, sounds, sights and places, won't be such a stressful endeavor in your life anymore. I will however warn you, triggers can and will occur for years after the trauma. So you shouldn’t necessarily be alarmed if something triggers you, after you have been free from the abuse for some time.

It would be a good idea to be aware of your triggers early on. The sooner you become aware of your triggers, the better able you can get a handle on them and start taking the necessary steps to find safe ways to slowly start facing your triggers, instead of running away from them. When you learn what your triggers are, you might be able to catch your response when a moment of triggers pops up. Here's an example of an analogy: Say you have a lit fire cracker in your hand, you can easily and naturally, without thinking twice, throw that fire cracker, rather than let it blow up in your hand.

Our thoughts are pretty much the same way. In the first instant you catch yourself being triggered, the better you can take control of the situation before it gets out of hand. The more and more you practice this, the more and more it will become naturally, without even thinking about it. You'll just instantly react.

Like I had mentioned earlier, triggers can take an emotional toll on a person's mentality. Keep in mind, that it's very important and beneficial to never stop talking out your feelings and emotions, rather than keeping it all locked up inside and letting it fester. Every person has their own strategies that work for them. One thing I have found very helpful and has benefited me drastically, is expressing my thoughts and feelings, instead of keeping them locked up in my mind. It has kept me from going out of my mind. I've realized the more I express my thoughts and feelings, the better I am able to mentally function. There are many people and resources out there that you can talk to and get lots of support from, whether it be with a trusted close friend, family member, a spiritual leader, your pastor, a mental health professional or someone else you may trust. But only you have to be the one to take that first step and start speaking out and taking control over your life again.

I would suggest finding a positive outlet. Having triggers such as certain sounds, smells, sights, or physical touch could put a person into panic mode in an instant, but there are other positive outlets that can help calm you down as well. What I mean by that is, my psychiatrist, and case management team, once suggested me to try exploring a thing called positive sensory input, that can help you offset the effects of your triggers. Here are a few to give you a general idea. If you're not afraid of animals, try putting all your focus on an animal, just by petting them. You would be surprised, just by taking your focus off of your triggers and doing something so simple as petting an animal, just how much it will help bring you back into reality persay. You can also try things like, listening to your favorite music or song, or you can try inhaling a relaxing scent, such as a candle, insence, a flower, or lavender oil, when you begin to feel overwhelmed. You'll just have to explore different ones until you find the right one that works for you.


© Jenny Frye ,
книга «My Story isn't Over Yet!».
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