In the months following treatment for PTSD, I had a series of trigger failures. I hadn’t yet figured out how to stop my triggers from sending me into a downward spiral. I was exhausted trying to figure it all out. It was at this point that I knew I had to make a choice: confront my triggers now, voluntarily, or deal with them later, when I’m not willing or able but my body is demanding immediate relief from the chaos inside. I began to use the tools that I learned in treatment… and to my surprise, they worked!
In the intervening years, I have become very well acquainted with my triggers. So much, in fact, that I’m rarely surprised by them anymore. For me, knowing there IS a successful way to deal with triggers is a very liberating thing as it teaches me that I CAN manage my reactions to negative things if I am prepared.
Of course even being as prepared as possible won’t make it EASY, as coping with triggers from PTSD can be frustrating, as they seem to be a constant companion among a majority of sufferers.
So HOW did my triggers become more manageable?
Can ALL triggers be managed?
Ways that I Manage PTSD Triggers:
AWARENESS OF THE TRIGGER(S) IS PARAMOUNT! !
~ Learn What YOUR triggers are. – This is numero uno if you have any realistic hope of ever learning to manage your trauma responses. And for the record, its most probably a rare thing that any survivor of trauma is dealing with only ONE trigger. Most survivors would likely agree its often more than one. If you walk into a room and find yourself strongly reacting (even if unnoticeable to most people) to a person, a statement someone made, a song or a smell – chances are, you are being triggered by the memory of an event, whether good or bad.
~ What is the meaning of this trigger?
– Whatever the originating trauma was has now become the thing that creates the trigger. Learning as much as you can (safely) about that originating trauma can be useful.
~ Be Curious.
– Once there is awareness of the trigger, interrogate it. The trigger only has power as long as we are ignorant of it. Once the TRUTH has been spoken, cats outta the bag.
– Dialogue with the “parts” of ourselves that may feel affected by triggers. Our goal here is to unburden the parts of ourselves that have been living under the pressure of being responsible for our entire system of behavior.
~ Self-soothe (Self-repair) – fave food (in moderation)
– hobby (again, in moderation, not breaking the bank)
– reading/writing, music/dancing/singing, photography/painting/drawing, creating, etc… ~ Offer self-congratulations and encouragement for making a different, healthier choice than before.
~ Mindfulness – Making ourselves aware of where we are, in the present moment, and knowing that in that moment we are alright and can work to alleviate the anxiety and fear that has been triggered.
~ Recovery Support System – Talking to someone who understands PTSD and is supportive in our recovery, is a way to manage the effects of being triggered.
~ Telling ourselves the truth – Identifying that the feeling or situation we are in is not the same as your traumatic event, and becoming aware that your fear and anxiety, while real, are not necessarily appropriate reactions.
Remind yourself that you are safe now.
Positive self-talk or journaling when triggered feelings come up can be helpful dealing with those emotions.
Holding onto a special object, listening to music, smelling or tasting something with a strong scent or flavor or just holding someone’s hand can bring yourself back into the here and now.
We hope that you find your way out of the darkness of PTSD triggers and into the light of the TRUTH of WHO you are. Its THERE… in that place, where you can CHOOSE to react differently to trauma triggers than you have in the past.