What Happened When My Conversations Were No Longer Censored

I’ve always been told that I’m sensitive and that I need to learn how to take things with a grain of salt. No matter how hard I’ve tried not to, I don’t. I know that I get upset or offended easier than most and that’s something I’ve learned to accept about myself. When it comes to being triggered I still haven’t quite figured out how to properly deal with them.

So what is a trigger, you ask?

To me, a trigger is defined as something, internal or external, that activates anxiety, flashbacks, or feelings of fear. For example, if someone has a history of trauma, seeing or hearing something that occurred during the experience can send them into a flashback.

Being in treatment for the past few months, most of my conversations have been somewhat censored. It is a known rule in the treatment centers that I was at that there is never to be any “number” talk; meaning no discussion of weight, calories, servings, etc. We were also not to share war stories or glamorize past behaviors. When talking about a behavior you used, you would simply use the word behavior as opposed to explicitly saying “purging” or “self-harming”.

It was essentially up to me to decide and communicate what was appropriate to say or talk about around me. My family members were taught these rules, along with a few others of my own.

I get triggered very easily with numbers. I tend to compare so hearing about what size dress Sue friend fits into or how many calories Marcy ate today really heightens my anxiety and causes increased urges to engage in behaviors. It was also known that there should be no comments about my appearance, neither positive or negative. Everyone around me wanted to make this as easy on me as they could and, thankfully, followed the “word rules”.

So when I started socializing with friends and extended family it was a bit of a culture shock. They did not follow the rigid word rules that we did at home. Being thrown into such an environment without any preparation ultimately contributed to my relapse. At family holiday parties there was constant talk about how everyone “saved up” for the meal tonight, their new exercise regime, and how they ate too much at the event.

I was in total shock. I had forgotten the harsh reality of diet talk in the real world. It was everywhere. It was unavoidable and I was caught off guard.

I didn’t know how to manage all of the triggers constantly surrounding me when I tried to be social. I could isolate, but I knew that would only pull me back into my disorder. So I stuck it out. But, unfortunately, I let it get to my head. The constant thoughts of being “too big” and the f-word (fat) were swirling around my head more than ever now that I hear the words out loud, even if they weren’t directed towards myself.

I’m not the best at handling myself when I encounter triggers but I realize that they’re something I have to live with. I let them get to my head and consume my every thought, and it is detrimental to my recovery. This is something my therapist and I are working on together. We have many exposures planned surrounding triggers and are going to practice eating a snack or meal regardless of what negative comments I am hearing from an external source.

I’m curious; how do you deal with triggers? Do you speak up or handle emotions internally? I would love to hear your feedback. Post in the comments below or shoot me a message on my questions page!

-SHAYNA

4 thoughts

  1. I think this is very well written. I actually wrote a post about triggers probably two months ago and it’s still sitting on my desktop because I think it’s going to piss a lot of people off…sounds like that’s something you can relate to. I feel like triggers are our crosses to bear and not the world’s. It’s not their fault that even after four years I can’t be in an airport without a craving to drink on par with a craving to consume oxygen or that I still wonder if half the actresses in every movie I watch have done nude scenes. One of my rehabs had an “identify and avoid your triggers” mentality while the other had a “identify and conquer your triggers” one. I think the second one is leading to a better life for me. What am I going to do…never fly again? Never go to the movies again? I actually had this discussion with two close friends who were in the eating disorder program at the second rehab I went to that there seems to be tendency among a lot of people in recovery to somehow put a trigger on a pedestal, like allowing the trigger more power than it’s actually worth.

    Yours is not one of these blogs, but I think you’ve seen them where people bathe in their triggers and put trigger warnings on everything they say. I love what you’re doing with your therapist. You’re learning to deal with your triggers. And yes, returning from rehab is rough. I’ve heard a few people say it’s only second to coming home from fighting in a war…and it was a war in some ways. You can live in a safe bubble in rehab, but the world isn’t that place. Some choose to try to recreate it and keep the world out, thinking that they’re avoiding the bad, but in reality, they’re also missing a lot of the good. Recovery is about overcoming, not running away from. I think you’re doing the right things.

    Like

  2. Thank you so so much for the wonderful response! I completely agree; conquering your triggers is much more beneficial than avoiding them. We cannot live in a bubble of fear for the remainder of our lives. I will not allow my triggers to take control of my life and neither will you. Thank you again for the incredible feedback and I appreciate you sharing your own experiences as well.

    Liked by 1 person

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