• Trauma Triggers (Part 1)

    Triggers suck.
    There. I said it. Granted, that’s probably not the most eloquent way to start a blog post. What it is, however, is the most honest I can be about the way it feels to live life stumbling around a psychological minefield of trauma triggers, hoping and praying that one doesn’t get set off.  Here’s the thing: in my own journey of learning to live with CPTSD (complex post traumatic stress disorder), I have become aware of how many triggers I have and how quickly everything can fall apart if I don’t learn how to appropriately process and manage those trauma triggers NOW.

    Knowing how to process and manage known triggers is a choice we need to make EVERY SINGLE DAY in favor of our own recovery. 

    Thankfully, because of successful PTSD treatment, I have spent many (painful) days of practice identifying my triggers and getting to know what they are all about in hopes that it would help me BEFORE I found myself being triggered again. I had to become familiar with what my triggers are NOW so that I wouldn’t feel powerless and lost when they did rear their ugly heads.
    A trigger is a catalyst; something that propels, causes, cues, or sets off the symptoms of PTSD in our bodies. It can be something internal (unspoken, like a thought or feeling), or it can be an external trigger such as a song or a smell, a situation, or something we witness or hear in our day-to-day life. When ‘tripped’, these triggers can cause anxiety attacks, flashbacks, the fight or flight response, and a myriad of other PTSD symptoms.
    Wikipedia says that a trauma trigger is an experience that causes someone to recall a previous traumatic memory…and can be indirectly or superficially reminiscent of an earlier traumatic incident.
    A quick, realistic glimpse at what a trigger IS and what a trigger DOES can be hugely helpful when we stand in the face of something that we perceive to be life threatening. When we are triggered, this is what happens: our body and brain speeds up our heart, which then sends blood to our muscles communicating the message that we are going to need to make a quick escape… so our bodies prepare to attempt escape (or tense up as if to run). Next, our bodies begin to pump out hormones – and its their job to help stave off bleeding and help keep us safe from infection in case we get hurt. As our brain communicates to our body that some of its functions are less important, it then begins to shut down the part that stores memory, emotion, and thinking.
    * Internal triggers include:  
    • feelings of anger, anxiety, or sadness
    • memories
    • loneliness
    • frustration
    • feeling out of control
    • feeling vulnerable
    • racing heartbeat
    • physical pain
    • negative self-talk
    * External triggers include:
    • traumatic event
    • watching a movie or television show that reminds you of your traumatic event
    • certain smells and/or sounds
    • an anniversary or holiday
    • a specific place
    • seeing a person who reminds you of someone connected to your traumatic event
    (Part 2 on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017)

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