triggers

Triggers aren't always rational concepts

Sometimes people talk about triggers as though as though being triggered means having an extreme reaction to something that it’s perfectly normal for most people to find upsetting.

Some triggers are like that. A lot of them are not.

Triggers can be things that make no apparent sense at all from the outside. They can be anything. For instance, someone might find teddy bears triggering. Or being spoken to in a reassuring tone of voice. Or a certain song. Or wearing a t-shirt.

They are not necessarily about concepts.

Having trauma-related triggers does not necessarily mean that someone will have an unusual amount of difficulty discussing upsetting topics.

Discussing the concept of abuse or the particular kind of trauma they experienced *might* be triggering, but it might not be.

For instance, someone might be triggered by the smell of popcorn, but comfortable discussing abuse and abuse prevention policy. Or any number of other combinations.

Knowing that someone has experienced trauma doesn’t mean that you know anything else about them. Not everyone who has experienced trauma gets triggered. People who do get triggered, get triggered by a range of different things. You generally are not going to be in a position to know this kind of thing about someone else unless they tell you.

tl;dr Trauma-related triggers can be just about anything. They’re not necessarily conceptually related to difficult or politically charged topics. Some people who have triggers aren’t triggered by discussing the relevant concepts, but are triggered by otherwise-innocuous things they associate with their experiences. Trauma can be complicated and doesn’t always fit with the prevailing cultural narrative.

Being wary of women isn't always misogyny

It’s completely normal for people who have had traumatic experiences with women to be wary of women. Or to have triggers related to women.

For instance, some people can’t tolerate being touched by women. Or don’t feel safe with female therapists. Or feel safer around men than women in general. Or need activities they participate in to be co-ed rather than single-gender. Or any number of other things.

Sometimes people with those kinds of trauma responses are told that they’re being misogynistic, or that they have internalized misogyny. And that’s wrong. Having a completely normal trauma response is *not* sexism, and it’s not a moral failing of any kind.

(It would be sexist to think that women are inferior, or inherently incapable of treating people well, or something like that. Being wary of women as a trauma response is *not* the same as thinking that kind of thing.)

tl;dr Trauma is not a moral failing, even when your trauma responses are politically inconvenient. If you have been hurt by women and have trauma responses to women, it’s not your fault and it’s ok to take care of yourself.

squidids:

Ways autism testing can be triggering

fabgaylespez:

realsocialskills:

nonbinarymollyringwald answered your question “Official autism diagnosis?”

Would it be possible for you to describe what particularily triggering aspects of these tests might be?

realsocialskills said:

There are several potentially…

squidids said:

My tester was really sweet and I’d actually even recommend her to others, but she had this habit of pointing out my mistakes in an almost congratulatory way. As in, “that’s amazing, you failed nearly every one of those tasks!”

I don’t think she would have done that if I hadn’t been doing well on other tests (like with a lot of neuropsych testing, she was looking for discrepancies in ability across different types of tasks). And on some level she was right to be positive when her tests identified something I couldn’t do, because it was validating. But on the other hand, it’s not like I was trying to fail those tests - I was doing my absolute best and thought I was doing okay at them so hearing I failed them still made me sad.

Also, for months after receiving a diagnosis I’d have sudden moments of panic realizing that there would always be things that I didn’t see and areas in which I was at a disadvantage. That I couldn’t just try harder and get better. I strongly suspected that I was autistic before, so my negative reaction to being diagnosed came as a bit of a surprise. It got better eventually but I do wish that I’d been connected with some form of after-care, instead of just getting a diagnosis and then taking it back to a therapist who wasn’t terribly familiar with ASD.

Ways autism testing can be triggering

fabgaylespez:

realsocialskills:

nonbinarymollyringwald answered your question “Official autism diagnosis?”

Would it be possible for you to describe what particularily triggering aspects of these tests might be?

realsocialskills said:

There are several potentially triggering aspects of autism testing. Not everyone feels this way, but these are things some people experience:

The tone of the evaluation might be triggering in itself:

  • On Tumblr, looking for autistic attributes can be a positive or neutral thing
  • A lot of people here have a positive view of autism
  • And a matter-of-fact approach to autism-related difficulties
  • Autism testing is not like that
  • Autism testing is looking for flaws, and is based on the assumption that autistic traits are unfortunate and undesirable
  • That can be hard to deal with. It can be very unpleasant to demonstrate over and over that you have highly stigmatized attributes, especially if the person testing you doesn’t understand why the stigma is unjustified
  • It can help to keep in mind that there is a community of people who respect your brain just the way it is, and that acceptance is more powerful than medical stigma

Having to do stuff you’re bad at over and over while someone watches:

  • Autism testing aims to conclusively demonstrate that you’re bad at certain things
  • Given that autism is highly stigmatized, it’s likely that you’re insecure about at least some of the things you’re being tested for
  • You may be accustomed to trying to hide and cover for things you can’t do no matter how much people tell you that you should be able to
  • Testing involves showing the person evaluating you, over and over, that you can’t do certain things, or can’t do certain things in the ways expected for neurotypical people your age
  • That can be painful or frightening
  • It can help to remember that you can’t actually flunk a neuropsych evaluation
  • You’re ok, and doing things badly on neuropsych tests doesn’t mean that you’re bad or that you’re failing. It just means that you’re disabled in some way, and that’s ok.
  • It still might feel really, really bad. That’s not your fault, and you’ll be ok even if the testing is very upsetting

Some tests that you may have involve reading out loud:

  • You might take a vocabulary test that involves reading many words out loud
  • Some of them are words most people don’t know
  • So it’s likely that you will end up having to mispronounce a bunch of words
  • This can be upsetting or triggering if you’ve been made fun of for reading mistakes, (or if being good at reading is an important part of your identity)

No-win tests:

  • There are some tests in which it’s not possible to get every answer right
  • eg: There’s one test involving sorting cards in which they change the rules periodically to see how you react to changes
  • It can help to keep in mind that some of the tests might be intentionally messing with your perceptions, or otherwise intentionally confusing
  • It’s ok to be confused during testing. 

Not being understood or believed:

  • Some of the concepts used in autistic and developmental disability self-advocacy have not made it into the mental health and neurology professional communities
  • For instance, it is likely that the person evaluating you will not fully understand your explanation of why and how you stim, even if they know some things about the importance of stimming
  • They also might not understand or believe you about your communication, especially if it defies stereotypes
  • Eg: if you demonstrate a high verbal IQ, they might have trouble understanding if you say that you’re sometimes functionally nonverbal
  • eg: If you say that you understand metaphors and body language but have trouble with overly literal technical language, they might not understand that
  • The specifics vary a lot, but it’s likely that there will be *something* significant that they don’t understand or believe you about
  • Further, some things that have made it into professional knowledge, and even the diagnostic standards, are not necessarily common knowledge among all professionals
  • For instance, some psychiatrists believe that autistic people can’t have empathy, and will think that people who understand emotions can’t be autistic 
  • It helps to keep in mind that you don’t need the person evaluating you to fully understand, or even to be particularly insightful about autism
  • The main thing you can get from a diagnostician is a diagnosis, and documentation of your need for accommodation and/or services
  • Anything else is a bonus; good if you can get it, but not something to count on
  • Keep in mind that the person diagnosing you is not your only means of support, and that you can get help and insight elsewhere if you don’t get it from them

Bringing up childhood memories:

  • One requirement for autism diagnosis is that symptoms have to have been present in early childhood
  • This means that they will ask you about childhood
  • They might also ask to talk to your parents, or to see records related to childhood
  • This might be very painful to think about, especially if some of your earliest memories involve adults in your life thinking there was something very wrong with you and trying to change you
  • It also might be hard to discuss with family members, especially if they feel guilty or are defensive.
  • It can help to remember that you can’t actually flunk childhood, no matter how bad some of it was at the time
  • And that you’re not broken, and it wasn’t your fault if adults didn’t understand, and it wasn’t your fault if they hurt you
  • And that you’re not a child anymore, and that you will never have to be a little kid who adults are deeply concerned about ever again. 

Psychiatric screening:

  • You may have some kind of mental health testing
  • You will probably have a depression and anxiety screening
  • If your disability or health issues have been dismissed as depression/anxiety in the past, this might be frightening
  • It also might be hard if you’ve had bad experiences with therapy in the past
  • It can help to remember that this is probably not a primary part of the evaluation
  • It can also help to remember that, even if you have a mental health condition, psychiatric disability, or are crazy (including all three concepts because different people prefer different concepts for valid reasons), it doesn’t mean you’re not autistic. It’s possible, and common, to have both.

Social skills and empathy testing:

  • Some autism tests are supposed to test your ability to feel empathy, understand emotions, hear tones of voice, and understand body language
  • These tests are utterly ludicrous
  • Some of them are based on offensive stereotypes
  • One involves looking at pictures of actors with exaggerated facial expressions and saying which emotion you think they’re feeling. (They provide a list of seven.)
  • Taking ludicrous tests might feel degrading in itself, especially if you can’t answer the way they want you to
  • It might help to remember that these tests are not actually reliable indicators of your understanding of other people

Power

  • If you’re being tested for autism, it means that someone else will be deciding whether or not to diagnose you
  • This might also mean deciding whether you qualify for services you need
  • Or whether you qualify for legally-mandated accommodations you need
  • It can also affect how you see yourself, and how others see you
  • That’s a lot of power to put in someone else’s hands, especially if their understanding of autism is partial
  • That can be very scary, especially if you’ve had bad experiences with testing or gatekeeping in the past

These are the potentially triggering and painful aspects of autism testing that I know about. Does anyone want to weigh in about others?

fabgaylespez said:

I didn’t find any of my evaluations particularly stressful. This may be because I was already familiar with most of the people conducting the tests and had a generally positive opinion of them. It may also have been because I wasn’t aware that they were testing for anything in particular.

But while the process itself was not at all triggering for me, reading the report that resulted from the evaluations was very triggering. I didn’t gain access to this report until a few years after the testing, and over that time I had become very comfortable with my diagnosis, and most of the self-consciousness that I developed in the immediate aftermath of being diagnosed had long since faded away. But reading the report brought all of it back, and in ways it was worse, because I now had more specific details to be self-conscious about. It took me months to shake off this renewed anxiety, and for about a year after that it would occasionally reappear for a few days.

I found the report triggering because of how it zeroed in on every little thing about me that wasn’t “normal”, some of which I wasn’t aware of. Many of these behaviours were described as having been observed during meetings that I had no idea I was being so closely observed during. They dissected everything about my body language, pointed out details about how I held my hands and feet, my habits around eye contact, things that I had no awareness I was even doing, had no idea there was anything unusual about, and they’d noticed these things during times when I believed I was in a safe space. They noticed these things that I wasn’t even aware of, and then described them in a report in a way that made me out to be extremely unusual, almost alien. They dissected my clothing choices, the condition of my hair, my interests. Quoted me in ways that felt out of context when I read it. There was no hint of any compassion or understanding in the report. It was extremely clinical and detached and seemed to exist solely to point out everything that was “wrong” about me. And it was written by people that I had trusted and felt safe with.

It took me a long time to fully recover from reading that report.

So that’s an important thing to remember. No matter how smoothly the evaluation goes, the report itself could be very triggering to read, in ways you might not be expecting. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t read it. There are some very good reasons to read that kind of report about yourself. But if you do, it’s important to be prepared for the content, and to make sure you’re in a position to care for yourself properly afterwards.

realsocialskills said:

This is important. Thank you.

I want to learn more about other cultures. I started bc i am a writer and realized my writing was inexcusably non-diverse, but found i wanted to keep on bc i find it rly interesting. There’s a problem tho. I grew up in an abusive family. Seems like many of the cultures im learning about place more emphasis than mine on loyalty to family and respect for elders - something that, when i read about it, i find REALLY triggering. How can i learn when i keep getting panic attacks?
realsocialskills said:
I think the problem might be that you are reading the perspectives of people who aren’t talking about abuse, particularly if what you’re reading is apologetic narratives aimed at presenting a culture to those outside it. Those kinds of narratives don’t have a lot of space to acknowledge that abuse is common, wrong, and needs to be addressed. I suspect that you would find similar writing about your own culture equally triggering.
Maybe what’s triggering you is the feeling like there is no voice for survivors and no way to respond to abuse?
If that’s the problem, I think the solution is to seek out the voices of survivors within the culture you are trying to learn about. What do they say about their culture? How are they addressing abuse? How do their culture’s concepts of family play into that?
Whatever culture you are learning about, there will be people within it who are seeking responses to abuse within their own culture on the terms of their culture. I think that, for you, learning about other cultures probably needs to involve listening to those survivors.

On triggers

content warning: This is my response to someone who is offended by the idea that anyone could possibly be triggered by rickrolling

ohfuckimadeablog:

realsocialskills:

kind of curious as of to why you’re not sure rickrolling is ok in any case, if you don’t mind talking about it without being sure about it
realsocialskills said:
You never know what’s triggering to other people.
Rickrolling…

ohfuckimadeablog said:

Holy fucking shit people

Poe’s Law in action

Rickrolling is a trigger

realsocialskills said:

That post wasn’t really specifically about rickrolling. There’s nothing specifically awful about that song. 

The thing is, there doesn’t need to be something specifically awful about something for it to be triggering. Triggers aren’t reasonable, and they’re not always things like rape or violence.

Sometimes, a trigger is something like: a harmless rock song you used to listen to after abuse to calm yourself down. Sometimes hearing that song can take you back to that state of panic and fear. Not because there’s anything at all wrong with the song, just because you have that association. That’s a common kind of trigger.

For most people, rickrolling is harmless. But for people who are triggered by that particular song, being tricked, unexpected music, unexpected human voices, or sounds coming out of their computer they didn’t play on purpose, rickrolling is not harmless.

Rickrolling friends is one thing. That’s often totally fine, although it depends on the friend. But if you put a public rickroll bait on the internet where it’s likely to be seen by a lot of people, you run the risk of tricking someone into clicking it who really, really shouldn’t click it.

Depending on which corner of the internet you’re posting on, the risk might not be very high, since it’s not a particularly common trigger. But the value of rickrolling isn’t very high either. I don’t think much is lost by avoiding it.

Basically, I don’t think it’s right to trick people for fun unless you can be reasonably sure that they will also think it’s fun. And one reason it’s better to err on the side of not tricking people is that for some people, there’s more at stake than avoiding a brief moment of annoyance.

cayenaleva:

realsocialskills:

waterloggedtomorrow:

realsocialskills:

Hello, I am usually triggered by unexpected music & the rickroll song in particular is very bad for me. Thank you for pointing out that rickrolling is a harmful prank — I’ve been considering whether I’ll have to stay off tumblr around April Fool’s because so many people are pushing it as harmless, fun, and not something that needs to be tagged.

waterloggedtomorrow said:

Also, I don’t know that this person will see this, but the thing about rickrolls is that they’re not going to be on your dash, right? They’re going to be links you’ll have to click on. And what we have now that we didn’t really in 2007 is the thing at the bottom of your browser that pops up to tell you where a link goes. And obviously you can’t tell whether or not the link is to that video in particular, but if it goes to a youtube video, don’t click it! Probably even if it’s not a rickroll, because youtube videos play automatically when you open the tab, and if you have an issue with unexpected music. I hope that helps maybe?

realsocialskills said:

That can help some people, but it doesn’t entirely solve the problem because:

  • There are a lot of different videos, and people who don’t want to watch songs still often do want to watch other things
  • Eg: videos demonstrating makeup, videos explaining stuff
  • People who want to avoid unexpected invasive music should still be able to watch that kind of video
  • Also, the thing about links is easily circumvented by using URL shorteners, and people who want to trick others into clicking something they don’t want to click are generally not above concealing the URL
  • And there are contexts, like Twitter, on which virtually *all* URLs are shortened

Basically, just, don’t trick people unless you know them and are reasonably sure that they would appreciate being tricked.

cayenaleva said:

This is by no means a substitute for not pranking people, but greasemonkey (an extension for Firefox and I believe Chrome that allows you to modify sites with custom scripts) has a script that disables autoplay on Youtube. People shouldn’t be linking to prank videos unless they know it’s safe, but this may still be useful for people who might accidentally click a link that leads to a video they weren’t expecting.

The script can be found at https://userscripts.org/scripts/show/66616

deliciousdannydevito:

While we’re talking about what not to do on April Fools Day, let me remind everyone not to pull ‘unreality pranks’.

Don’t go up to a person and say ‘wake up’, ‘you’re dreaming’ (and especially don’t tag team it with two or three other people, saying the same thing). Don’t pretend not to know a person you know. Don’t fabricate events or non-existent people in order to pull a ‘you don’t remember? it just happened the other day!’

All of these things can trigger severe dissociative episodes, panic attacks, paranoia, psychotic episodes, and suicidal ideation.

If you haven’t experienced this (I assume most non mentally ill people haven’t), suffice to say it is the most frightening feeling in the world, and makes you want to be dead, like, right now. So don’t do it.

Hello, I am usually triggered by unexpected music & the rickroll song in particular is very bad for me. Thank you for pointing out that rickrolling is a harmful prank – I’ve been considering whether I’ll have to stay off tumblr around April Fool’s because so many people are pushing it as harmless, fun, and not something that needs to be tagged.

Advice on avoiding triggers if you can’t download something like tumblr savior because you don’t want your family to see ?
realsocialskills said:
There’s a site called Washboard that describes itself as:
Washboard is a Tumblr interface that features keyword blacklisting. Like Tumblr Savior, but for mobile devices.
I haven’t used it, so I don’t know how well it works.
Have any of y'all used Washboard successfully?

Another way of avoiding triggers in movies

homesickstardust said: IMDb has a keyword section which includes them, and you can look at all of the keywords in a movie

realsocialskills said:

How do you use the keywords to check? I can see how to use it to find stuff that does contain particular content, but not to avoid seeing stuff that does.

Is there any way to search the database for movies that *don’t* have particular keywords?

 Or do you do it some other way?

avoiding triggers in movies

Anonymous asked:

Commonsensemedia.org has a movie review section that I use to find out more about movies if I’m worried about being triggered. I guess it could stand to say that some of the reviews may be triggering depending on the person. For ex, you may find out why the movie is considered violent/bloody (in a very concise manner as far as I’ve seen) if you read on in the description. It is really nice if you are not a parent/guardian and has a discussion part along with the review.

realsocialskills said:

Thank you, that sounds like a really useful resource.

I live with roommates, and they do things that wouldn’t bother other people, but bother me, because I have *problems*. For instance, they leave out bottles of cough syrup and dog food on the kitchen counter. Those things make me nauseious and anxious because of childhood trauma and IBS, and make it hard for me to be able to eat. I’d like to ask them to leave them on the sideboard. But I don’t think they’d understand and will think I’m being controlling and unreasonable.
realsocialskills answered:
I don’t know, unfortunately. But I understand the problem - when you have unusual needs, it can be really hard to communicate that they are real things and not just you being controlling.
Have any of y'all found ways of handling this?

PTSD at school

I developed PTSD last year and took time off college, and I’m about to go back for the first time since then. I’ve been auditing classes for a few months now though and I’m suddenly terrified. I can barely read anymore (I can’t focus and it’s often panic inducing). I dissociate in class and sometimes even have highly humiliating episodes in lectures. I never retain anything and it feels futile and I’m afraid I’m gonna flunk out. If you have any advice I would appreciate it so much. Thank you!!
realsocialskills answered:
Since I don’t know you, all I can do is guess - but here are a couple of possibilities that comes to mind:
Do you find evaluation triggering? Like, tests, quizzes, papers, things where you have to prove that you mastered the material? Or knowing that you’re being graded?
If so, I wonder if maybe a full course load might be too much for you right now. Being terrified is exhausting and time consuming. So is dealing with being triggered a lot. That plus a full course load might be taking up more time than you have. 
It might be better to start by only taking one course for credit. That could give you space to work on figuring out what’s triggering and how to deal with it.
Another possibility: If you’re missing material because you dissociate in class, you might be able to get a notetaker as a disability accommodation. Or you might try recording the lectures (which is a disability accommodation you can get even if recording isn’t normally allowed). Similarly, if you find a particular *kind* of assessment triggering, you might be able to arrange a modified form (eg: if taking a quiz in-class causes you to dissociate, you might be able to arrange to do a take-home instead.)
You might also try collaborative note taking:
  • It’s a good strategy for anyone to try who is having trouble paying attention in lecture
  • But it might also be helpful for you if your episodes are the kind someone can help you avert if you see one coming on
  • Because then you’d already be communicating with your notetaking partner, so if you see a problem coming it might give your the opportunity to get help
Another possibility: Are you dealing with a triggering or cognitively incompatible teacher?
  • For some people, teachers who teach in certain ways can be triggering
  • Or can be so hard to understand that they exhaust you in ways that take away the cognitive abilities you need to do school
  • Or can be hostile to you in subtle but intensely destructive ways
  • Or any number of other serious points of incompatibility
  • If you’re having a debilitating reaction to a particular teacher, it’s probably really important to not take classes with that teacher, even if it looks like a good idea on paper

Do any of y'all have suggestions?

Movie Triggers

samsamsamrny:

Movietriggers.com is a (very new) database of triggers in new and old movies, it even has a page specifically for movies currently in theatres. While there isn’t a lot of info yet, this website would be really great for a lot of people if we all add to it! 

Here’s an example of what a movie looks like on the site:

Be sure to check it out and add to it!

Hi! I really like your post ‘don’t tell me my pain is beautiful.’ However I have a slight problem with 'i think you’re wrong.’ Because oppression is so personally triggering it’s problematic for people to 'disagree’ and follow with 'devils advocate.’
realsocialskills answered:
I’m not talking about “devil’s advocate” or any of that kind of thing. I agree that devil’s advocate is a horrible thing to do. Or otherwise treating it as a game or an opportunity for debate practice.
It’s not ok to treat things as a rhetoric context unless everyone involved consents to that. But substantive disagreement is a different thing.
I’m talking about when people actually disagree, for actual reasons. When they’re listening, taking the content seriously, and finding a significant point of disagreement that they think is worth mentioning.
(It’s important to be careful about this, and something being “just your opinion” doesn’t mean that others are bound to respect it. And there are times when you will rightfully be slammed for condescending to people on a topic you’re not informed about. Substantive disagreement is a different thing).
Someone being in pain doesn’t necessarily mean they are right, especially when they are advocating something specific. Finding disagreement triggering also doesn’t mean that the person getting triggered is right.
There are people I block because their comments to some of my entries are triggering for me in ways I can’t handle constructively. That doesn’t mean that I’m right, or that they should stop saying what they think. (I think they’re wrong and that they should change their views, but that’s a separate issue.)
Some things that are really important to talk about are also excruciating.   That doesn’t mean that no one can or should disagree with anyone who is suffering.

boywoof said: if youre comfortable, telling the person those things upset you (w/o guilting them for having emotions) could make it easier for you to work around it, maybe w/ their help

Yes, there are situations in which talking to them could be helpful; sometimes it is possible to work out things everyone involved can do to make things work.

It’s definitely important to acknowledge that the solution can’t be for that person to just stop being angry or depressed. It doesn’t work that way.

That said - I think that telling someone you’re being triggered by something they do is inherently likely to result in them feeling guilty. In particular if it’s something that they don’t much like about themselves. 

There isn’t any way of bringing up this kind of problem that can reliably avoid the other person feeling guilty or ashamed. So, if they feel really guilty, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve done something wrong in bringing it up.

rosewhite6280 said: some people with anger problems do so because they themselves are being triggered, help them deal with their past problem, compassion helps

That’s good advice in some situations, but I don’t think it’s applicable in the situation they asked about. I think what you’re saying makes a lot of sense in situations in which you’re responsible for another person’s physical and emotional wellbeing. For instance, if you’re raising a kid, or working with a kid who has been through traumatic things, the first thing to keep in mind is that they’re doing things for reasons and that compassion goes a long way.

But you can’t have that relationship with every traumatized person you encounter. It’s not appropriate with a roommate.

And that person was asking specially about what to do about the fact that they are triggered by their roommate’s depression and anger. It was a question about how to make a living situation work, not a question about how to make a support relationship work.

Getting involved enough to help someone deal with their past problem is a completely different kind of relationship than they were asking about. And there’s no indication that either they or their roommate wants that.

And, when you are triggered by someone even at a relatively distant relationship, it’s generally not a good idea to establish an even closer relationship with that person.

Their roommate’s past is not their problem, and helping their roommate get over their past is not their responsibility.

Hi. I’m triggered by outbursts of anger and by people being majorly depressed around me. My roommate has outbursts of anger and major depression. Help?
My first thought is that you’re probably not compatible roommates. Living with that person probably means you’re inevitably going to get triggered by them a lot, which isn’t good for either of you.
That said, it might depend on how being triggered works for you:
  • Some people can learn to detect when something is about to become triggering and avert it.
  • It might be possible for you to do things like figure out which kinds of contact with your roommate are triggering, detect when it’s about to happen, and extract yourself
  • For instance, if it’s about seeing facial expressions your roommate makes when they’re angry, it might work to leave the room when things are getting too close to the edge
  • But not everyone’s triggers work this way.
  • It may not be possible to find ways to avoid being triggered while still living with someone who does a lot of triggering things
  • If that’s how it is, it’s not a personal failing, it just means you probably can’t safely live together.
  • Not everyone is compatible, and that’s ok

It also might depend on how often it happens, and what the consequences are:

  • If it’s infrequent, it might be bearable. Depending on how that is for you personally
  • It also depends on what kind of trigger it is, and how you feel about it
  • Like, if it’s the kind of trigger where you have to spend an hour freaking out and convincing yourself that you’re safe, you might decide that that’s bearable
  • It’s totally ok to decide that being regularly triggered in that way is deal-breaking, though. Either is ok, it’s a matter of what you want
  • If it’s the kind of trigger where you spend a week fighting suicidal feelings, it’s probably really important to get out of that living situation as soon as possible

Aside from what to do in the roommate situation, some thoughts about being triggered by anger:

  • Anger is a particularly difficult trigger to deal with
  • Because anger is an inevitable part of just about every relationship ever
  • Sometimes people will be justifiably angry at you, and have a legitimate need to express it
  • And sometimes you have to deal with the thing they’re angry about even though you get triggered by the anger
  • Even though it’s not your fault, even though you can’t avoid getting triggered
  • The underlying thing they’re angry about still has to be dealt with
  • Getting triggered by things people can’t reasonably avoid doing is really awful

Further thoughts about anger:

  • Having to deal with anger sometimes doesn’t mean that you can’t ever avoid it
  • Sometimes people have a legitimate need to express anger about something you’ve done, but most ways you’re likely to encounter anger in your day-to-day life aren’t like that
  • Not all anger has anything to do with you, and when you’re not the person someone is angry at, it’s usually reasonable to avoid engaging with anger
  • For instance, it’s ok if you don’t want people to vent to you when they’re angry at someone else or angry about politics
  • And it’s ok to avoid watching angry movies or following angry blogs
  • Or to block angry bloggers who trigger you, even if they’re good people who you respect
  • Or to use tumblr savior or xkit to block tags etc that are mostly people being angry
  • Or to decide not to spend time with people who get angry with you over minor things
  • Or to decide not to spend time around people who are frequently angry or appear angry much of the time
  • In particular, you might be better off not sharing living space with someone who gets angry a lot

I’m not sure what else to suggest. Do any of y'all have thoughts?

Noticing when someone is using your triggers to disorient and confuse you

When someone is using your triggers to disorient and confuse you, it’s confusing. It can take a long time to figure out what’s going on.

Here are some things I think are red flags:

If someone seems to like you more when you’re triggered than when you’re in control, something is seriously wrong

  • For instance, if a therapist only listens to you when you’re sobbing and otherwise acts as though you couldn’t possibly understand anything about yourself
  • Or when a friend suddenly finds you fascinating when you’re triggered and they’re supporting you through it, but they half-ignore you most of the rest of the time

If someone feels entitled to discuss triggering subjects with you (absent an immediate practical reason to), something is seriously wrong:

  • For instance, if you say that you’d rather not discuss dogs right now because it’s triggering and you’re close to the edge already, and they say “but I thought we were friends! How can you shut me out like that?”
  • Or if a therapist tells you that you’ll never get better unless you are willing to discuss once again, in graphic terms, the ways people abused you - and they refuse to say, help you figure out whether the medication you are taking is working, or whether the side effects are dangerous, unless you do this over and over

If you end up triggered every time you try to reject personal advice, something is seriously wrong:

  • For instance, if someone regularly wants to tell you how to dress, and every time you try to wear something different, they push you until you end up sobbing and apologizing, something is wrong
  • This is particularly the case if they’re always bringing triggering things into a conversation that didn’t need to have anything to do with them
  • Your desire to wear a red hat rather than the blue on they want you to wear is probably because you want to wear a red hat
  • It’s very unlikely that it’s because you have no perspective on clothes because your abusers damaged you
  • And even if that was the reason, it would still be ok for you to prefer a red hat, and wrong for someone to try to force you to wear a blue one by triggering you