(Please be aware content may trigger some people)
This week I feel I have been walking in a minefield of triggers, everywhere and anywhere I have gone they seem to creep up on me and when I am least expecting it, they catapult me into a place I would rather not be.
On Tuesday I had the dreaded dentist, now I thought I might be triggered by the actual place and was really pleased when I wasn’t. So imagine my surprise when in the early hours of the next morning with my jaw still sore, I suddenly found myself catapulted back to 1978.
My painful jaw triggering my alter Titch who was scared and afraid as she was gripped in pain. My stomach was in agony with a pain very similar to appendicitis, whilst my jaw was causing her to fear and remember the blows she used to take for me back then. I couldn’t move because of the pain and so for quite a while I had to just lie there terrified and unable to do anything to reduce our turmoil.
Eventually the stomach pain reduced enough for me to remember it was 2013 and I was safe, and these were in reality just memories. It wasn’t happening all over again, even if it felt like that. I realised it was Titch because of the pain, for this is her pain and hers alone, so I spent quite a while talking aloud in the hope Titch would hear me. I kept saying the same reassuring terms over and over because I knew she was still there, as my stomach was still hurting. Slowly and over time it all subsided and then I lay awake trying to figure out what had caused this to happen, it took me a while to realise it was simply because of a bruised jaw. That was my trigger!
On Thursday in the middle of doing some research on mental health; I was using the wonderful world wide web to help me, and there suddenly on the screen popped up a name I remembered, it was the name of a specific hospital; which for legal reasons shall remain nameless, it’s a unit in Sussex far from where I live. I stopped my research and backed off, it was a place I didn’t wish to think about, I took time out and then headed for bed.
But I just couldn’t sleep, my head was filled with the thoughts of my time in that place, the shortages of staff, the procedures that made me feel like a third class citizen. Try as I might I couldn’t settle, then I realised my thoughts were racing and that’s not good. I lost some time, and then when I came back to awareness I felt on edge and confused something was triggering me but I couldn’t figure out exactly what it was. I knew I had been angry, frustrated but it was just a hospital one I will never go to again.
Then I realised that place made me feel more vulnerable than any other hospital I have ever been in, and that was triggering a younger alter. They could recall feeling vulnerable and inferior to those who hurt her, she was in a different time period to me. The hospital name had been the trigger!
So imagine my surprise yesterday, when whilst I was out for the evening at an event hosted by a charity I truly passionately believe in, I suddenly started to feel light headed and not myself. It came on thankfully just as we were leaving so I managed to save myself from the major embarrassment of having to leave hastily. I got outside and had to be helped to stay upright on my feet, my head feel woozy and my hearing was all echoes, I felt disorientated and just not me. Luckily all the external stimuli of the busy streets and the cold air and rain helped me to feel more normal again, more like me.
The person who was with me knows me well, so as we made our way back to the car slowly and carefully we talked about what had happened. I suddenly realised that somebody’s random comment had catapulted me back 35 years and all in the space of a few words, a few seconds.
Triggers are a constant for anyone living with Dissociative identity disorder, but even if you think you can weave your way around them, avoid certain objects, sounds, smells etc. the harsh reality for me this week has been that no matter how much I try and plan, new things can trigger me without warning, be that a painful jaw, the name of a place or a random comment.
Life will always be a like walking in a minefield full of potential triggers, for no matter what I do something at some point will catapult me back in time. Maybe that’s my valuable lesson learnt this week.
Triggers aren’t great, they cause unpleasant feelings and emotions, but unlike most people I guess they also mean I get to time travel. I just need to learn to utilise these time travelling skills to my benefit, to take me back to those places and moments in time where I would rather visit…… well maybe one day.