Triggers and Tainted Advice

Nothing feels more pitiful than admitting that you still get tackled by all-too-familiar feels and frustrations when confronted with insensitive imagery and examples of emotional fatality that you can relate to.

What the fuck is recovery when you can just be spun back into an abyss of triggers, stress, and impatience within a flicker of a photograph or a snatch of a sentence?

Training for one of my jobs has been doing just that to me. And when I’ve told a confidant about my distress, I have been told to just “not think about it.” As if it were that easy, that simple, that attainable and reachable…and as if I was that capable.

Well, it’s not, and perhaps I’m not.

Not all of us are wired to dismiss the life-changing experiences and gut-wrenching moments that still snake their way into our daily conscience. Not all of us can close our mind’s eye to our emotions that we have taken painstaking time to get in touch with. Not all of us can turn a blind ear to the static that fogs the back of our brain when we are reintroduced to sensitive, relatable material.

And the more that we accumulate these experiences, these moments, the more we feel incapable when someone offers the thoughtfulless advice of “just not thinking about it.” The less we feel capable as human beings.

And that’s just not fucking kind or respectful advice at all.

Yes I am aware that advice is (usually) sent with positive intentions. Yes I am aware that to throw the advice back to the deliverer can be seen as equally mean and disrespectful. But I’m here to also make it clear that the POINT of a mental issue is IN THE THOUGHTS, and IN THE DAMN BRAIN. So perhaps, your oversimplified statement is the opposite of empowering- it’s underlining a lack of ability we are already fully aware of.

I’ve talked about tactics I use to avoid overthinking, (see video here ) and I have definitely diversified my toolkit for dealing with re-arising mental issues. But “not thinking about it” is not even a goal. Determining an inappropriate response to disturbing stimulus is a goal. Understanding my destructive thought patterns is a goal. Breathing through the moments that I cannot escape from is a goal. Controlling my physical reactions in a public setting is a goal. Not thinking and negating the issue entirely is not.

I understand also that the point of advice is to suggest a solution that someone may not be aware of, or to reinforce an answer to a problem for someone who is conflicted between choices. But telling someone to ignore a piece of their mental puzzle that will take time and diligence to detect, (and hopefully one day make amends with,) makes a lot of assumptions. Assumptions that they have never wished they could just “not think about it,” and assumptions that they choose to torture themselves at inopportune moments.

So please, for all that is both holy and unholy, stop telling us to “stop thinking about” our anxiety, our PTSD, our depression, our disorders, and our mental health issues that touch just a tad deeper than conscious determination.


A Walking Trigger Trap

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