Posts Tagged ‘getting triggered after child abuse’

This week, I have been talking about getting triggered after child abuse. I shared a recent experience about when I was badly triggered and how I dealt with it. In this post, I want to provide some tips for dealing with triggers.

First of all, when (not if) you get triggered, don’t beat yourself up. I have been working very hard on healing from the child abuse for over five years. By anyone’s standards, I am far along the path of healing, and yet I was able to be triggered in a matter of seconds. It made me feel like I had made no progress at all. This is normal for a child abuse survivor.

I felt like I had always been in this terrible place and would never know freedom again. It felt like I had been sucked down into a deep, dark well where there was no sunlight or even the hope of sunlight. I just wanted to die. I wanted relief from the pain at whatever cost. I was only in this terrible place for about 30 hours, but it felt like decades. While I was triggered, nobody could have convinced me that I would ever feel better again.

I have written myself a note to (hopefully) get me through my next triggering faster. I am very susceptible to being triggered during the holidays, so I have no question that I will get the “opportunity” to test out this tactic before the year’s end. My note says three things:

  1. Breathe
  2. 36 hours
  3. Feed the right wolf

That’s really all I need to know to pull out of the triggering.

1. Breathe

When I get triggered, my breathing becomes very shallow. By breathing deeply, I help pull myself back into the present and back into my body. As soon as I started breathing deeply, I felt a little better. That is the very first thing that I need to remember.

2. 36 hours

When I am in that bad, bad place, it feels like I will never get out. Reminding myself that I will feel much better within 36 hours shows me that there will be an end to that pain. I just have to get through 36 hours, and then I will be okay. I hope that will give me the strength to hold on.

3. Feed the right wolf

This has to do with the Native American story that I shared here. When I am triggered, it is as if someone just fed my “evil wolf” a big, juicy steak. My tendency is to continue to feed that wolf by fueling the self-hatred.

Instead, when I am triggered, it is very important for me to feed my “good wolf” by being very gentle with myself. I need to be compassionate and set aside time to do things that I enjoy.

Also, I need to remember not to fight the pain. Instead, I need to let it flow out of me. I don’t want to keep it inside of myself. I need to let it out. Giving in to feeling the pain flow is an investment in feeling much, much better very soon.

Now, I just need to remember to read this blog entry the next time I am triggered!

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Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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In my last post, My Experience with Being Triggered Recently, I shared a recent experience with being triggered. Just re-reading what I wrote gave me headache, but I am not triggered like I was when it happened, thank goodness.

After I posted the message on Isurvive.org, the self-hate grew significantly stronger. I felt like I was free-falling. I had the strong desire to self-injure, and I battled suicidal urges. Before hearing the message from the nurse, I was completely fine and even having a good day. I went from being completely fine to the absolute opposite of fine in a manner of seconds. That is what triggers do to child abuse survivors.

Historically, after getting triggered, I would binge eat. If that did not work, then I would self-injure. If that did not work, then I would battle very strong urges to die. Because the triggering had to do with weight, binge eating was not an option, so that put me in dangerous territory.

My first step was to post the message to Isurvive. That did not calm me. Next, I tried to call my sister, but I couldn’t reach her. I then called another friend. Thank goodness she answered. I likely would have self-injured if she had not.

My friend told me to get in the car and come to her office. She needed to run errands for her boss, so she took me along with her. Just being in the presence of a positive and loving friend did a lot to lower the intensity of what I was feeling. I was still in a bad place afterward, but at least it was more manageable.

After this, I sank into a deep depression that lasted into the night. I took some heavy-duty sleep aids to make myself sleep, but it was not a restful sleep. I was still in a bad place the next morning. I did a lot of crying, and I did not have the energy to do the things that I needed to do that day.

By the afternoon, I kept thinking that I needed to breathe. I played songs that talked about breathing, and I made myself breathe in and out very deeply. That helped.

My son and I took our dogs for a walk. I tried to focus upon the beauty of the world around me. By the time we got home from the walk, I was feeling better. By that evening, I was doing much better. By the morning, I was my normal self again.

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Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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This week, I am focusing on triggers and how to deal with them. I was recently triggered by a nurse in my doctor’s office. Soon after I was triggered, I posted the following message on Isurvive.org, which is a message board for abuse survivors. The post fills you in on all you need to know. Tomorrow, I will get into how I dealt with the triggering after posting this message.

Triggered again re: eating disorder

D@#$!! I am so sick to death of being triggered every other day. I HATE this time of year.

Today, the trigger ties in with eating disorder, which is why I am posting here.

For most of my life, I have struggled with binge eating and compulsive overeating. I have made great progress over the past few years, but I have been slipping some (but not nearly as intensely) over the past several weeks as I keep getting triggered over and over again.

I have always had high cholesterol, no matter how “good” I try to be with my eating. It has been as high as 300+, and doctors want it under 200. I am now on Crestor (the “miracle drug”!!), and that has been working well.

I saw my doctor earlier this week for my six month cholesterol check in. I specifically told the nurse NOT to tell me my weight. If I hear a number, I sets me off badly — right back into self-hate land, which fuels the need to eat and … well, you get the picture.

She did not tell me the number. The doctor made a comment about me being a “normal” weight in relation to a conversation we were having, but that was it.

I know that I am not skinny and never will be. But, I wear a size 8 in relaxed fit jeans, which I figure is pretty good for someone who will be forty in the not-too-distant future. I am generally content with how I am.

So, now the nurse called to give me my results. My cholesterol is good — 187. Yeah!! Why couldn’t she have just stopped there??

Then she says that my triglycerides are too high. No s@#$. That always happens when I wrestle with my eating disorder. The doctor wants me to taking higher fish oil supplements to pull that down. Cool, I can do that.

And then, the d@#$ nurse says that my weight is up 6 lbs from last year. Already, the triggering starts. And then she says that someone of my age and height should weigh under ###. And then I was gone.

d@#$ d@#$ d@#$

Why did she have to leave that part of the message!?!!

So, now I have this number rolling around my head. I know it is just a number, but that doesn’t matter when I get triggered. I know that my weight is higher than “that” weight (or why else would she have said it?), so now my head is going all sorts of places that are likely not even accurate.

I also know that it was my time of the month, so I was bloated with water weight. In my head, I know that nothing has changed, but now I am back in that horrible place of being bombarded with those messages — “I’m fat. I’m worthless. I am this big cow who doesn’t even deserve to live.”

I know how to push through it all, but it p@$$es me off to no end that I HAVE to work through this crap again. My doctor knows about my eating disorder history, which is probably why she handled the weight stuff the way that she did. But that d@#$ nurse.

I hate this. I hate for other people to continue to have the power to push my buttons and send me reeling back to that horrible place. I hate it!! I hate it!! I hate it!!

– Faith


After the rain, the rainbow.

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Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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When I was in therapy, my therapist and I would occasionally talk about what “being healed” actually meant. I wanted to be “completely normal” and have no residue left over from the child abuse. My therapist told me that these were unrealistic goals. He said that there is no “normal,” only varying levels of functional. He also said that my past will always affect my present but to lesser and lesser degrees.

I was particularly bothered by being triggered. I could be completely fine one minute. Then, something or someone would trigger a reaction in me, and then I would be in a very bad place for weeks. I hated it, and I wanted it to stop.

My therapist told me that I would always be vulnerable to triggers (sooo not what I wanted to hear!), but that as I healed, I would recover in hours or days rather than in weeks or months. That sounded good to me. I kept asking, “When?” and he would say that he did not have a crystal ball. The more I talked out how I felt and the more I loved myself, the sooner I would be able to pull out of being triggered.

I have been actively healing from the child abuse for over five years now, and I am still vulnerable to triggers. I have become badly triggered twice in the last couple of weeks. The good news is that I seem to be able to pull completely out of the “bad place” within 36 hours. While it is a long and miserable 36 hours, that time frame used to be measured in weeks, not hours, so this has been incredible growth for me.

I was recently very triggered by something that a nurse said that triggered all of my old insecurities regarding my eating disorder of binge eating. I went from being completely fine to being completely out of control within seconds. Some of you who visit Isurvive.org might already know the story. This week, I will share with you what happened, how I dealt with it, and how I am planning to deal with triggers in the future based upon what I learned with this experience.

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Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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