Hey, guys – welcome back to TNTH.
Last week, I wrote a post talking about speaking up about mental health and becoming more aware of it so that the process of seeking help wouldn’t be as difficult. I admit that it took me years to finally put my pride to the side and to reach out for professional help for some anxiety I’ve developed over the last couple of years. With that being said, I wanted to talk about something that was once the running joke on the internet: triggered.
I personally don’t know where this “joke” started, but I started to notice a lot of the YouTubers that I watched starting to mimic the joke, or simply use the word in everyday conversation in the context that the joke was portraying it as. At first, I will admit, I didn’t see the harm in it. I didn’t see the harm in it until people started to use it in the context that if they saw an actual person “triggered” in a situation, that person’s trigger was looked at being a joke. Many people who deal with mental illnesses and have their own triggers started to speak about and express their distaste for a joke that clearly wasn’t funny. Just like everything trending on the internet, it eventually died, and “shook” took its place and all seemed right in the “internet trending meme world.”
But to some degree, triggers will never be taken seriously because of it and it is up to you to surround yourself with people who will.
As I become aware of my own personal anxiety, I started to realize the things that would instantly change my mood and would instantly make me feel uncomfortable and irritable. For my personal comfort, I won’t be sharing any really personal triggers on this post, but they do exist and I find myself completely shutting down once I feel them getting a hold of me. Anxiety isn’t just me having a million things to do by the end of the week. It’s me thinking about the next day and putting myself in anxious situations because I have to in order for it to be over. It’s me thinking the absolute worst could happen while I being in this anxious situations. It’s simply just a lot more than having so much work to do.
Two weeks ago, I went to see my partner for the day and for the first time in a really long time, I took public transportation to his place. I love looking at subway maps and seeing where they all go across the five (well four regarding trains) boroughs, but because my form of transportation is usually just buses, I never really ride the subway, and I’ve become more anxious doing so. This is silly to admit, but my anxiety for riding the subway started nearly 5 years ago while watching a television show called The Following. The opening of the second season was filmed in NYC on a real subway cart and everything, and three characters entered the subway cart normally, waited until the doors closed, and then starting to kill everyone on that subway cart between stops. It scared the living shit out of me and it still does to this day. I never watch that episode over if I’m rewatching the series because, in a way, that opening started this trigger of mine. So whatever, I’m on the train one stop away from my train stop, and this guy enters the train cart and just starts walking back and forth the cart with his buddy. I started to get really uncomfortable very quickly. Since I was in the very first cart, one of the guys tried to look into the area that the conductor was in which is truly odd since no one ever does that. Two minutes to my stop felt like two hours and all I wanted to do was get my ass out of that train and aboard the next one in my commute. Was I overreacting? Probably. But my trigger of being on trains in the subway didn’t stop the thought that something bad was going to happen to me.
People have their own things that “trigger” them, and we as a community need to be more aware and more empathetic to those that have serious reactions to these said triggers. Triggers and phobias are two sides of the same coin and both need to be taken more seriously. There are people who can’t have domestic violence conversations or watch TV shows shining a light on it because it triggers their own experiences to it. There are people who hold the little bar on car doors while someone is driving because that person got into a really bad car accident that scared them for life. People go out of their way to block any person within their past on every single platform online because the sight of them triggers them and brings them back to the time where they were at their lowest. I am that person who has to do that too. These issues, whether major or not, are triggers for a reason and should be cautioned whenever that person is around. If your friend gets triggered watching Law & Order: SVU because she was a victim of rape in her past, don’t fucking watch that television show when you’re hanging out with her. If your friend is terrified of dogs because she got bit by one when she was younger, either put your dog in another room where your friend isn’t near it or go see her at the comfort of her own home. I’m not saying that you have to be super sensitive to a person with triggers, I’m saying to be aware of that specific person’s triggers and be supportive. You don’t know how great it feels to know that a person you care about cares about making you feel comfortable and helps you control your anxiety. In a way, it helps keep it away even more.
I make sure that on the nights I have class, I am traveling to Brooklyn with someone who also lives in Brooklyn. Once I’m in Brooklyn and I wait for the bus that takes me home, I call my partner on the phone just so that someone knows where I am if God Forbid anything happened. Although I’ll always feel anxious to travel on public transportation at any given time of day (or night), at least there are ways that I could calm myself and not “wake up” any of my triggers.
If you’re a person with any sort of triggers, don’t be ashamed of having them. You can’t be fearless and invincible with everything in life. Your triggers shouldn’t define you and you shouldn’t let them hold you back, but while you’re dealing with them, make sure that you surround yourself with people who care enough to at least understand what you are dealing with. Even more so, surround yourself with people who don’t feed into the whole “triggered” joke and think you’re just being “shook”. While people aren’t going to understand why your triggers are your triggers, the least they could do is be empathetic to them if they care about you and your well being.
And of course, always try to work out your triggers. If one of your triggers is holding you back from an opportunity (i.e a vacation that requires a long period of time traveling), try to tell yourself that what you’re feeling is only temporary and things are going to be just fine.
It’s not easy, and I know my own triggers will probably worsen once I start trying to overcome them in the next couple of months, but at least I know I am making progress to become a more calm and happier me. I know that I am going to be okay, and know you will be too.