Triggers are Everywhere
Trigger is a word that has been used as of late, either for fun or whenever people get angry. I personally don’t mind it, but I know how much it may harm others. Trigger, according to the urban dictionary, is a term used to describe sensations, images or experiences that trigger a traumatic memory. It is related to post traumatic stress disorder, but I often feel it with my generalized anxiety disorder.
Right when I wake up, my heart is racing. I start thinking of all of the tasks I have to get done that day. I start thinking that I’ll be late to school or wherever else I need to go. I start sweating profusely. I become out of breath as I get ready. My intrusive thoughts start explaining why it might not be possible for me to get to class. While I focus on that, the time keeps flying by. I start to tremble since I know I only have so much time to do what I have to do. I am already exhausted.
School. Going to my classes feels like a chore. If I miss the bus, then I have to walk. Since my apartment is 20 minutes from campus and I have to walk up a hill, I feel very out of breath. If I leave late then I have to run, and since it is winter, I have trouble breathing with the cold air. As I struggle to catch my breath, I panic internally when I think of my previous panic attacks. Thus, I sometimes give up and walk back home if I know that the lecture will be recorded.
Homework. Something we all should do so that we are prepared for class. Except I would look at all the tasks I had to do and say, “I don’t know how I’m going to get all of this done by the end of the day, this is ridiculous, my professors expect too much from me.” I would then instead play with my phone, watch Netflix or talk to friends. I tried to do anything to relax myself, but in the back of my mind, the tasks were weighing me down. I would get to the end of the day and try to start, but I was too tired to do anything and was so disappointed in myself. I thought I was lazy by procrastinating. However, I just expected to get way too much done in a day, so I unfairly placed that as a fault in my character.
Breathing is an unconscious process. However, before I went to the hospital, my breathing was always too fast. My pulse was always racing. My thoughts were always pounding against me. I forgot how to breathe deeply and tried to reduce the sound of my breathing because I didn’t want to bother others around me.
Crowds. I am a small human at 5 feet tall and I have a small stature at 100 pounds. Most of the time, I love crowds when I can distract myself with music or views. School is no big deal because I have a way to escape and I feel relatively safe around other students. I also know I normally don’t have to speak to the people in the crowd. But school classrooms are different; my psychology classes often have hundreds of students. My professors or my friends say that is great to make friends in classes so that you can form study groups. However, when I walk into a classroom, it always seems that everyone already has their clique, so I give up and just hope that someone talks to me instead. Others are just as nervous as I am, so that normally never happens; it’s disappointing and isolating the first few weeks. I am a very talkative person to those who know me, so why would that happen? I worry that people won’t like me because I lack confidence and start thinking that I might as well protect myself from getting hurt.
Family functions. I am Chaldean so I have a gigantic family. My mom used to force me to go to family gatherings, but this just made me irritated the whole time I was there. I stopped going to family functions for years because every time I went, I felt horrible. So many family members came up to me, kissed me, told me how much they loved me and I felt like I lost my voice. I was thinking, “If you love me then why do you only reach out for special occasions or why do you not invite us to all of the functions”. I would look around me and see everyone talking and laughing. I clung to my mom, but felt left out because she was talking to so many people. I often went on my phone because I wanted to block people out. Anytime family went up to me, I felt like they had to drag a conversation out of me. I would ask myself: “They are family just talk about whatever” or “Why don’t you just ask them questions?” or “Why don’t you ask mom or grandma questions so that you know what to talk about”. Instead, I just begged my mom to leave. When she would say no and to talk to our family instead, I would freeze because I couldn’t. I usually gave in and talked to my younger cousin, but I only had one that I really knew because I am usually the youngest at these events. The cousins who are my age seemed like superstars talking to everyone. I really want to start getting involved with my culture and family again because now I know that family is truly forever.
Eating. It is a basic human need and I love food. However, I get anxious about the amount of food I have on my plate. People always tell me that I don’t eat enough, but I eat more than enough for my size. People say I’m too skinny which makes me feel like I have to eat more, but eating more doesn’t help me gain any weight. It just caused me to look at myself as more skinny than I am which provided a very poor self image.
My appearance. People always tell me that I’m beautiful and I think I am now. However, words used to cut me deeply. I would see myself as skinnier than I was because of people’s comments. I worked out often this past summer to gain weight by lifting weights and using protein drinks, which I loved. It improved my mood and I felt capable of doing so much. However, when I got to the stage of wanting to lose the little fat I did have, I was so depressed. I was anxious about my looks and stopped working out as a result.
Driving. Normally I love driving and it is really relaxing, when I’m alone that is. Once I’m with someone else I start thinking of all the possible ways that an accident could happen or that someone could become injured. I start feeling self-conscious about my driving, especially when they comment on it. I start wishing that the car would remain in silence to allow me to focus. I start losing my focus. I start to drive more recklessly than usual. When I have to park, I get frustrated when my passengers become nervous that I’m going to hit cars because I know what I’m doing and I have confidence in my driving. Next time, I should going to quote my queen Rihanna and say, “shut up and let me drive”.
My things. I always carry my important stuff on me in my purse, as do others. Due to growing up in a low income household, I have a fixation on protecting my stuff at all costs. I wouldn’t even be able to leave my purse with my family; I would have to take it with me because I would feel so worried that my things would be stolen.
Sleeping. I have insomnia and become pretty depressed at night. Part of that is because everyone is asleep, so there are less things that I can do to keep my mind off of the negatives. I struggled with sleeping for most of my life until I started taking medications which improved my sleep. However, it still comes with so many bad memories.
Future plans. I have always been extremely anxious for my future until I made a few self-discoveries: I discovered my major, my theoretical approach for psychology, figured out what type of bachelor's degree I wanted to pursue, discovered what I wanted to do for a living, and I sought help. This is my biggest trigger now because I made so many future plans, but previously never saw myself achieving them. That’s why I almost ended my life. Now I know that despite this pain, I will heal and my future's is so bright.