Today’s prompt in the 30 Day Self Harm Awareness Challenge asks
What are some of your main triggers? Why?
I’ve written extensively of my triggers on this blog, including one post in which I challenged myself to find an emotional trigger for every letter of the alphabet. I personally believe that knowing your triggers is one of the most important tasks you can undertake in your recovery journey. For only by knowing what sets you off, what stimulates those urges and beckons the darkness, can we hope to find ways to appease them.
My primary trigger for many of my mental distresses is loneliness. Even thinking about being alone is enough to trigger bouts of depression, mood shifts of bipolar and all manner of self harm activity. Ever since I was a teenager I had a fear of being alone. It was something I never wanted to be. I thrive on people. Being around others fills me with confidence, motivates me, thrills me and generally fills me with all sorts of happy fuzzy bunny feelings. But when I’m alone. When I have no-one in my life. I am filled with a darkness that only self-harm can enlighten. The last eight months of being self-harm free have been a nightmare. I am perpetually alone. No-one to distract me, no-one to enliven me, no-one to stimulate me. As such, I find myself being constantly triggered, but unable to self harm to relieve myself as I wish to remain self harm free.
2. Emotional Abuse/Domestic Violence
Ever since I found myself the victim of an emotionally abusive relationship, anything to do with abuse/domestic violence has triggered me. Overhearing it being talked about in public. Reading about it in a newspaper article. Seeing the hashtag #DV in tweets. Everything and anything to do with abuse has the power to render me completely useless, as it resurfaces all the memories, all the pain and chaos that I went through during those long, abusive months. Many times over the last eight years I’ve found myself self harming to relieve the pain I feel as a result of domestic violence.
My rape occurred on the 7th July 2007; eight years ago tomorrow. Sitting here, today, I have already begun thinking the only way I will get through the day is by self harming. I don’t want to. But the memories that will resurface, the pain that I will be assaulted with, will only be soothed by self harm. It is, without question, the first major challenge of my self harm free period this year. But it isn’t just memories of my rape that trigger me. Like abuse/domestic violence, it is everything to do with the subject. Articles. Personal accounts. Tweets. Facebook posts. TV shows. Anything that features rape has the power to trigger me. It’s hard, and it’s painful, and it’s everyday. But there is little I can do about it.
4. Crowds of people/People in general
This is to do with my social anxiety. I don’t like massive crowds of people. I don’t like being around people in general. I don’t trust them. I don’t function well around them. They have the power to reduce me to a quivering, unintelligible wreck. Many times over the years that I’ve been self harming I have been triggered to cut after spending prolonged periods of time around others. Even at school, being surrounded by dozens of other people, my peers, was enough to trigger me into self harming when I got home. It was a way to deal with the anxiety. It still is, all these years later.
Vanessa; the bane of my existence. Of my four primary voices she is the most abusive, the most vicious, the most damaging. Everything she says is an insult, every comment designed to inflict pain on my person. She encourages me to self harm often. I don’t always succumb to her wishes, but there have been times, many times, when I have. I wish she would stop. I wish she would stop telling me to do it. But she won’t. Like all the other triggers, I just have to install mechanisms to deal with her.
I like being stimulated. Ever since I was a teenager I’ve never liked sitting around doing nothing. I need to be doing something. Whether that’s writing, reading, playing video games, watching TV, chatting to other people, masturbating (what, I’m an adult, and a passionate socially isolated one at that!), preparing dinner, listening to music, whatever. I need to be doing something. For when I’m not doing something the dark thoughts that populate my mind rise to the fore and I’m forced to self harm in order to appease them. This is a major problem given my current boring, monotonous routine. As essentially I do nothing every day, and in doing nothing, I have found my self harm urges growing with every passing day; threatening the self harm free eight months that I’ve successfully navigated.
Even though I know of my triggers, I still have tremendous difficulty with them. I am working hard to alleviate them, to find coping mechanisms and skills to stop them triggering self harm or summoning my deepest depression. It’s a learning curve, I guess, that I’m still working through. One day I hope I will get there. One day I hope I will be able to manage each of these six things. It’s just today, is not that day.
What about you? Do you have triggers you find hard to manage? Do you have any tips or tricks to overcome them?