I have triggers! Not many but they are certainly problematic for me and my anxiety. Triggers according to modern day psychology and the Urban Dictionary are defined as follows
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.
I find it somewhat ironic that triggers are also defined in one ordinary dictionary as
a small device that releases a spring or catch and so sets off a mechanism, especially in order to fire a gun.
The irony comes when finding out that one of my triggers seems to be related to gun violence – particularly mass gun violence! Every news item or Facebook post or television report ties my gut into a hard, round, ball of fire. It makes my heart sink to the depths of despair and hopelessness and fear fill my mind.
It’s important to note that I have never been involved in a gun crime. I have never lived in a home that owned a gun. I have never fired a gun or been standing next to someone who is firing a gun. I have never had a gun pointed at me and I can only remember allowing my boys to have water pistols but no other toy guns. So where does my trigger come from?
It doesn’t seem to matter whether the gun violence is happening here at home in Australia or New Zealand, or thousands of miles away in Europe or America. I have the same reaction and desires … to contact those closest to me and tell them that I love them and then retreat into my safe haven that I call “My Bed”! Once safely in bed, I then to begin to think and think and rethink and obsess about how I can do nothing for the people involved directly. Soon I have transferred my thoughts away from the trigger and can only seem to think about how worthless I am – generally!
I need to add here, that my mind is totally overwhelmed by the plight of the Rohingya people in Myanmar; the earthquake victims of Mexico; the flood victims of Texas; the dying and destitute desperate Puerto Rican’s; the citizen’s of the world that are suffering persecution at the hands of the once again, growing in popularity, nazi and white supremacists; the people on both sides of the Australian Marriage Equality plebiscite, who are suffering terrible online abuse and real life violence.
So how do I stop all the pain and negativity from taking complete control of me? How do I feel compassion but not irrational responsibility and fear? Well, the truth is – I often can’t stop it! These are the times when it becomes imperative for me to find some sort of circuit breaker. This can take days sometimes and is usually delivered by way of a text or email from a friend, or a song, or a saying or quote and even a picture can help. The simple act of conversing with another human being can break the loop in my head. A different way of looking at things is great, as well as reinforcing my connectivity with people.
I am subscribed to a wonderful mental health website called The Mighty. This website has been a huge help to me on difficult days. This morning, this newsletter dropped into my inbox. Although it is primarily an American site, there is no doubt that most advice, is still applicable to me. The introductory paragraphs seem to be talking directly to me. It goes…
There’s a feeling of nationwide – and worldwide – hopelessness after a senseless tragedy like the one that took place last night in Las Vegas. It’s tempting to stay glued to our screens as the story unfolds, as we wonder, again, why, why, why.
That’s why it’s important for us to remember today how valuable our lives are, and how important it is to take care of ourselves.
Taking care of yourself might look like taking care of others. It might look like sending that extra “I love you” text, or giving an extra tight hug. * (If you need extra support, you can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “HOME” to 741-741. Call 1-866-535-5654 if you’re missing a loved one and need more information.)
We want you to know that whatever you need to do right now is OK. If you feel helpless, there are things you can do, even if that thing is taking care of yourself. As Lin-Manuel Miranda tweeted this morning: “You can also put down your phone or close your computer and take a walk. That’s what I just did. We need you for the long haul. We need you.”
Great information there. Sometimes the circuit breaker I need might come in the form of a song like The Climb from Miley Cyrus.
Or it may be a beautiful painting like this one called Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth, that I first saw hanging in my Aunt’s home and that always brings back wonderful memories.
Or it may be that special bible verse that helps to remind me of the love and security I can rely upon from my faith.
So as I struggle to find my circuit breaker and connect with those I love and be extra kind to myself … My prayer for you is
*The numbers included above are US phone numbers.
If you wish to contact someone in Australia please use the numbers below.
000 if your life is at immediate risk
Lifeline 13 11 14
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800