Stepping back a bit in time, to Thursday, 3 May.
Let’s begin with a definition of what a trigger is. The graphic above is a good explanation. I also cover triggers and what is and is not a trigger in my lectures and talks. It lays the groundwork for what we will be covering in the time that follows (anything from a 15 minute talk to an 8 hour training seminar).
Again, this is the slide from my lectures:
And I refer back to this because the term has been buried under a lot of nonsense from its overuse. It’s like the valley girl style language when you hear “Oh, that’s so gay,” or one person I know who regularly says, “That’s so OCD!”, and they get the same eye roll from me when they whine “but, I’m so triggered!!” when something in poor taste is seen or heard from mainstream media. D’ya know how often I want to look over my glasses and say “grow up!”
So, what happened?
That total frustration with myself for being triggered, dammit.
There has been a troll operating on social media for some time now, in the guise of a mental health advocate and fighter (all of these tales he tells are 100% fiction). I’ve had my suspicions, and, as I will typically do, began gathering evidence (it’s not a fast process sometimes) to prove or disprove what I had been told. Said individual had been suspended on various platforms multiple times for his attacks, usually focused on women on that platform. There is no need to go into great detail beyond saying it is some of the most vile, ugly, and misogynistic hate that you will encounter online.
I have been keeping an eye on things, and let him do his thing while I watched, and on the 3rd, a friend alerted me to him up to his usual routine, only against someone we all knew. Yes, we all came to her defense, and like your typical snake, he just laid back and slithered around and spat out his venom at unprovoked intervals. You see, on what I post, any time he posted a comment, I just deleted it instantly before it triggered someone who might see it… still didn’t have enough to act yet. This day though, he was playing all his cards of ugliness.
Like most online trolls these days, particularly one who takes as long as this one did to start an all out attack, they do their research on their targets. That’s why this one was so vile, because he would hit the raw spots.
I got to be the target this time as well. Some years back, I was attacked from behind on the street (it was a violent sexual assault). My mind did what it does when stressed beyond the limits and depersonalization occurs (you step outside yourself and observe what’s happening like it is not actually happening to you). The issue with it, nothing is being stored in an area that can be easily recalled at will, and I’m left with only little snippets here and there of the total occurrence. All I had for hard evidence afterward was being bruised from shoulder to hip all down one side where I hit the sidewalk when pulled down from behind.
Following that attack, I was interviewed for a column by a friend who is a reporter, and the one thing I could recall was something that was said during the attack, she asked about it, and I told her what I remembered. It was printed in the article. For some troll digging up what they will attack their victims with, there’s that piece right there if you know where to look for it. Learned my lesson, I never talk about myself in any media interviews if possible.
So, once the troll had finished launching various bits of venom at other people, I was next, and he spat out that one line.
Triggered? Instantly, right back on that sidewalk, hearing those words, in the midst of that attack. Mentally I’m yelling at myself “Not now dammit!!” and trying to control the shaking that was happening. There’s nothing like fighting against your own mind to keep control so you can complete what you were in the middle of. That’s what being triggered is like, it sets of a reaction physically and mentally, it’s like a cascade of things that occur one right after the other. By the time the situation had been handled, I’m not perspiring, I’m frigging sweating, shaking, all the same things as a panic attack, mind is racing, heart is racing, breathing is irregular. When triggered, you relive the event, both mentally and physically.
This all happened in a time much shorter than it has taken you to read this.
Yes, I bounce back quicker than I did when first diagnosed with PTSD in 2012. But, it still pisses me off to the nth degree, because I start pulling my list of “shoulds”. I should be stronger than this, I shouldn’t let this shit trigger me, I should be used to this by now, I should not have given that interview years ago, I should be managing this better, I should not let anyone see this happening, and more. The list is long.
And another frustrating part of it, it’s not like I have not heard that line before, I’ve heard it hundreds of times, but, this time, given what else was happening at the same time, it set me off. It’s like a previous post, I can go out for an event, and have no issues, various buttons might be pushed, but not in the right order or combination to cause an issue. This time, the right buttons, in the right order, and … sigh.
Don’t worry, I still got my shots in with that troll, I don’t do all that research for nothing. One more waste of DNA dealt with. And somebody will say, why not report them to the social media platform. Because, from the day of the internet being opened publicly until now, complaining about abuse online is like yelling into a sewer, it’s a waste of fucking time because nobody is listening. Perhaps one day, the social media platforms will be legally mandated to start cracking down on this. One only has to look at the explosion in the teenage suicide rates to see what’s going on in the connected realm. And, I know, one day Karma will pay a visit, and she’s a severe bitch (leather and stilettos, right?), doesn’t say a word, just hands out what you deserve in no uncertain terms.
The whole thing, 10-15 minutes total. Still frustrated with myself about it. I want that to be one of those things that you take a big swallow of your fizzy water, let out a decent burp, say “what-ever!” and carry on with the day. That’s when I’ll be satisfied. Until then, there’s work to do.
Remember kittens, there is nothing wrong here, so talk about these things. There are a multitude of us out here willing to listen, and to help. We don’t deal in stigma, we work from understanding and love.
Love, sunbeams, and kitten dreams.