what happens when I'm triggered
September 8, 2012
So after this small discussion about how different people express being triggered in different ways, I finally feel compelled to write this post (which has been sitting around in the back of my brain for a while now).
When I’m triggered (most of the time) all I do is shut down. Like. 100%. I can feel that adrenaline start going through my body and my hands shake a bit, maybe some sweating, pounding heart, but on the surface?
You won’t see me lashing out or anything like that. I freeze. The more panic and shit I feel the more paralyzed and unable to act I become. In the highest stress moments of my life (ie., when I’ve been in great physical danger with chance of death), I shut down. When my apartment building was on fire, I literally laid down and waited until someone told me what to do to get out. As I was laying there I realized, all the way, that it was possible that I could die. I mean, there was a fire and everything. But I couldn’t do anything.
I get that when some other people are triggered, there may be more overt (possible violent) reactions. This isn’t me.
One of the first psychological things I first read about that made perfect sense for me was learned helplessness. A combination of the neglect and abuse I experienced when I was growing up has basically taught me that the only response to pain, terror, panic, is to lie down and give up. So, when I get triggered, all I do is shut down. (this is even true of the triggers remaining from my mugging – ie., people running up to me from behind)
Of course, some people would have you believe that I’m somehow less triggered because I respond in this way. But when I lose the ability to function for a large chunk of time, my ability to sleep is impacted, etc, those people can basically fuck themselves. Not everyone is you and not everyone responds to shit in the same way.