Triggered by my vacuum cleaner – a rant about abuse of words 

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We live in an era where the terms ‘triggered’ and ‘trigger’ are no longer used to describe the experience of someone with PTSD but that of any one who can’t handle words or situations that make them feel uncomfortable. I thought I’d set the record straight on this as I’m sick of this word being used out of context. I’m also pretty pissed off that the *special snowflake* community has turned a way of me being able to express my trauma, into a laughing stock. 
I have never been formally diagnosed with PTSD, I’ve had therapy and been on courses for PTSD but never had the box ticked. It seems it’s an exercise in hoop jumping before they’ll do this. I’m in no doubt that I have PTSD and neither have the people who have been involved in my care. ‘Triggers’ was a word that I quickly came acquainted with and it was useful to know. 
When I get upset or scared or angry (or any negative emotion) I can look back and see if there was something that triggered it, triggered me. When I say words like ‘upset’, it really doesn’t hit the spot of how awful I can actually feel. Now that this word is in the mainstream, it’s very easy to just throw it about and use it to describe every time you feel a bit sad or put out by something. A similar example is the abuse of the word depression eg ‘My new shoes are ruined, I’m so depressed now.’ PTSD and depression are both serious mental health problems. Diluting the words that sufferers need to describe how they feel only contributes to the ongoing stigma of mental illness (yes, the stigma is still there and it’s huge). 
I thought I’d introduce you to some of my triggers so that you can understand (assuming that you’ve never experienced PTSD so please forgive me if you do know ….) what that word really means:
1. As mentioned in the title – I often mistake my vacuum cleaner for a person. That moment when you think there’s someone in the house, the fear builds and your jaw clenches… All from a split second of my brain interpreting the vacuum cleaner to be an intruder. It sends me back to a place and time that I do not wish to go to. At this moment in time, I haven’t learnt to control my triggers. 

2. Certain music and certain smells. I won’t go into specifics. Our senses are more powerful and influential than we, or at least I, probably give them credit for. I have being taught techniques that use the senses to stop flashbacks so they can actually be a good thing 🙂

3. I know that there are buildings and places that I’m not sure I could ever step foot in again. If I can avoid triggers then I do. The only time that I would consider facing a trigger is if it was affecting my quality of life. Sometimes avoidance is actually a good thing!

4. This is just a list of other triggers, some more potent than others …. Certain names, one born every minute – TV, door locks, open exterior doors, open windows, beds, night time, the noise of the extractor fan, being startled by someone, alcohol, drunk people, the smell of alcohol on someone’s breath, people who look a bit like my abuser, certain dates in the calendar …. 
The list could go on and on. This is the reality of living with PTSD, I’m fighting with triggers all of the time and it’s fucking exhausting! Being triggered isn’t about something or someone upsetting you, it’s about life changing situations that can reduce you to a curled up ball of mess on the floor. 
So yes, I’m bloody angry that this word is now mocked and laughed at because certain groups of people have adopted it. I see this word being abused (and I don’t used the word abused lightly either!) all of the time across social media and real life conversations. 
To those who misuse the word triggered and it’s many forms:
Fucking stop it! Grow up and accept that life can be shitty and upsetting at times but that doesn’t mean you are traumatised by it!! Get over yourselves, you cannot be protected from all the things that make you feel uncomfortable. There are many things in my life that upset me and I would rather not face but that doesn’t make them triggering. Your life will be so much richer and satisfying if you stop hiding from it. 
Ok, I may be being a little harsh. Do me one favour – please stop appropriating language that mentally ill people, like me, need to use to be understood and taken seriously. 
In the meantime;

love, tea and hugs 

Exxx 

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‘Don’t be a victim’

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I’m not sure I’ve captured everything I want to say on this subject. My CFS, foggy mind has a habit of taking sentences and words away from me!

A lot of very well meaning people keep telling me that I don’t need to be a victim. I know what they are trying to say, they are trying to say ‘don’t let the abuse you suffered ruin your life’. The thing is, I am a victim.

If you’re reading this and you’ve never suffered the trauma of abuse then you might find it difficult to comprehend why someone like me, is struggling with life. Why don’t I just get my act together? I appreciate that you can’t walk in my shoes and have complete empathy BUT you can do your bit to educate yourself so that you have some understanding of what my life is like (and what other victims lives are like too).

You need to understand that I don’t enjoy feeling this way. It’s not an act, I don’t play on it for sympathy. I can’t imagine why anyone would deliberately make themselves feel this way. That’s not to say that I’m all doom and gloom, I get quite a few moments of happiness now. On the other hand, just because I can still smile and laugh, it doesn’t take away the pain. You see….not easy is it? I’m allowed to feel how ever I want to feel but there are many occasions where I’m not in control of my emotions.

That’s the thing about trauma, it’s fluid. There’s no set recovery time or medication that will make you feel better. I completed an 8 week (or 6 weeks – can’t remember!) CBT course and it really didn’t address anything that I have been through. I felt like the lone weirdo who’s first comment to the group was that I was worried about how many men would be attending….. I understand the CBT theory, it just wasn’t for me.

That’s all the NHS have been able to offer me for support. It’s not like I haven’t tried to get better so don’t go judging. It’s not nice when you can’t leave the house without a packet of lorazepam and an attack alarm in your pocket. It’s not nice when you catch a glimpse of a figure in your house and you feel terror, only to find it’s the vacuum cleaner or a shadow or absolutely nothing.

No doubt I will breathe easier one day. Time doesn’t heal but it does allow a distance to grow from the days of abuse to the days you are living now. My trauma will be with me forever in the same way that the seasons come and go. Right now I’m in a stormy autumn, one day there may be a springtime.

Love, tea and hugs
Exxx

Suicide isn’t painless

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Yep, I’m jumping on the bandwagon…. But I have to say I think it is important to keep talking about mental health and suicide. I’m afraid this isn’t going to be the most eloquent piece on mental health you will have read… I’m not a highly educated linguist …

As you all know, I tried to kill myself, by overdosing on lorazepam, on New Years Day. This was actually the second attempt I have made on my life. No one really knows about the first time as it was very half hearted and I just slept it off at home.

I cannot begin to tell you how distressed I have felt. It has caused me immense physical pain and also to scream like I’m being hunted down by a murderer. It actually makes you want to tear your skin off or rip out your hair.

I’ve lost a lot of friends over the years because they can’t handle my depression and my dark moods. Certain family members have drifted off. Having said that, I’ve also made new friends, mainly with people who have had similar feelings. There’s a special understanding with such people that you can never have with those who have not experienced depression.

There’s no point trying to rationalise depression, it’s not rational, it’s mental illness. Your body is ill and needs help. Due to the stigma that still surrounds mental illness, we struggle on and don’t seek help. I know I have been quite stubborn about my own mental health; stopping antidepressants because I don’t think I need them, thinking I can get over it on my own, believing myself to be undeserving of help …

Individuals cannot overcome this stigma on their own, the whole of society needs to change it’s attitude towards mental health. It’s not about being ‘mad’ or ‘crazy’ or a ‘nutter’, it’s about an invisible illness that rots you from the inside out. By the time it shows on your outer self, you really are in quite a bit of trouble.

This is a big confession of mine and something I have only ever admitted to The Samaritans….. I strongly believe that I will commit suicide one day. As I said to the woman on the end of the phone, it’s a matter of when – not if. It’s something I carry with me every day. I not saying I’m about to jump off a bridge, it could be 30 years from now ….. I see suicide as a tool in my armour against life, it’s the only real control I have over anything that exists around me.

I’m not trying to glorify or glamourise suicide, just being honest about how I feel. All I do know is that I see the irony in the fact that knowing I can end my life one day, actually keeps me going.

Love and extra hugs
Exxx

Mental Health Awareness Week

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I’m stepping out of my comfort zone here a bit and I’m going to write about a very personal experience ….

1st Jan 2014 I took an overdose of lorazepam. I had been given the pills to deal with anxiety and panic attacks. There were a number of pills left as I decided that to use them would be a sign of weakness.

I’m not going to go into the details of why I thought suicide was a better option than staying alive. I’m gagged by law on that one but when I am not I promise to speak out about it.

Mental Health Awareness week starts tomorrow (12th – 18th May) so I thought I would use this to share my own experience of mental health problems.

I have had depression on and off since I was a teenager. Most of the time I would say that there seemed to be no tangible reason why I felt so low. I did not grow up in poverty, my childhood was pretty normal etc etc But New Year’s Day was the day when I decided enough was enough. I felt exhausted and powerless, life had defeated me. The shame I felt at feeling this way was immense and crushing.

Standing up and saying ‘I have mental health problems’ is still such a taboo. People step away from you, view you differently. You are made to feel that you are less of a person and that you haven’t tried hard enough to be happy. Why can’t you just get over it? I wonder how many times people with mental health issues have heard that one?!

So what I am trying to say? I’m trying to reach out to those of you who are finding that life is hard, that there seems to be no hope. There is hope and life can improve. I’m still working on it, sometimes on a moment by moment basis. Life is precious and fragile and bloody difficult so don’t feel ashamed if you feel low, don’t feel ashamed if you need medication to help you face the day. You are as worthy as the next person, you deserve happiness, love and security too. Call the Samaritans, speak to your GP, tell your loved ones how you feel. Shout it from the roof tops if it helps. Suicide is so final, there’s no second chances.

Hold on to this thought
‘This too shall pass’
It does, I promise you.

Massive love, hugs and tea
Exxx