Survivor/Advocate Conversation: Understanding Triggers Years Later
A big thank you to my dear friend Ursula Kuba for being courageous and sharing her trauma story to help others.
Survivor: So. I thought I was over this two years ago. But last week a male police officer came to do an investigation at work (that had nothing to do with me) and I freaked out. I triggered and flashed-backed badly enough that he asked my name 3 times.
Since then, I’m in a constant state of anxiety and am just…well triggered. Freaked out.
It’s been a week now and I’ve been holed up on my sofa, not able to leave the house and my sitting room and house looks like a bad movie where the sad heroine sits and eats take-out after take-out that just piles up.
I just can’t seem to snap out of it.
Christy: Oh my gosh. I’m so sorry. I get this. I’ve had it happen to me a few times. Your brain is trying so hard to protect you and ends up causing more harm. Big hugs friend.
Survivor: So, it will pass right? Anything I can do to help it to pass?
Christy: There’s a couple things.
First, I think sometimes the body just needs to remember. Kind of like how we need to tell our story and be heard. Our body needs to tell the story too. But that tends to be more during anniversaries of the trauma. So, I say… listen to your body. Hear its story.
Second, if you can catch it before full blown remembering, you can stop that flood of hormones.
So, the moment you recognize a trigger, if you can do anything possible to send the message to your threat-alarm-system in your brain that you are safe now, it halts the hormone release for survival. That hormone release is what causes all those behavioral reactions.
This is practical things like…
- Taking a deep breath.
- Touching things like ice so you feel cold, something very present.
- Repeating a mantra, you like (like I am a kick ass goddess queen) and things like that.
Survivor: I think the problem is that I didn’t recognize the trigger and was in what felt like a threatening situation that was also triggering for over 24 hours
Christy: That makes a lot of sense. Sometimes it takes some time to identify triggers and be aware right when they start. Just knowing this puts you steps ahead. You’re truly amazing.