We talk a lot about triggers these days. So I thought I’d write a blog about my own triggers in the hope it will help better people understand how they affect people with my condition. The American Psychiatric Association describes triggers as this…
What are triggers?
We generally know the word trigger to mean an event that causes something to happen. When we apply this idea to mental health, it is an event that contributes to a change in a person’s thinking, emotion or behavior. The initial event associated with the onset of a mental illness is considered a trigger. Subsequent reminders of that initial event—a particular sound, interaction or location—that cause symptoms to resurface are also triggers.
So there we go. I’ve been lucky to experience relatively good health for a long period now. However, my Bipolar condition isn’t cured, it is just under relatively decent control. Prior to me becoming well I went through a two year period where my psychosis and delusions were being triggered as much as twice a month or more. It was one of the most challenging periods of my life.
Just last week I found myself in a situation that tested my triggers to the absolute limit. Thankfully, despite a little five minute wobble, I was able to remain in control of the situation. Many of my triggers revolve around religion, conspiracy, notions of hell and a couple more obscure things that I’ll come to shortly.
Last week I went to see the horror film Hereditary. It’s a movie that has split audiences with some loving and some hating it. I am in the former. I think it to be among the best ever made in that particular genre. I found it gripping and deeply unsettling. Problem is I don’t want to give anything away too much to those that haven’t seen it, but I do need to let you know a little for the sake of this blog. So in brief the film revolves around religion, conspiracy, devil worship and opening gates to hell…that’s on one level…or the film is about mental illness being a hereditary condition. Yup that’s right. All my triggers in one neatly packaged two hour parcel of terror. I actually didn’t find the first two thirds of the movie too frightening, but it was, as I said, totally griping. The final third was another thing all together. Deeply unsettling and involving many ideas that are great triggers for me personally.
I emerged from the cinema slightly wobbly and was immediately confronted by more triggers. The film on one level was about opening a gateway to hell. I was in a cinema complex known as The Gate. The first pub you see as you emerge from the Gate is called Sinners (I know). It was the third thing that nearly got me. The pub next to Sinners is called Tiger, Tiger (I know). Err…where do Tigers come into religion or demonic conspiracy I here you ask. Well they don’t. But Tigers are a trigger for me. I can’t remember why but I can remember being triggered by them in the past. So this was a proper test of how in control of these things I am at that moment. Despite a slight feeling of wobbliness I didn’t fall into the terrifying delusional paranoia that used to grip me in situations like this and didn’t come anywhere even near the start of an anxiety attack. By the time I arrived at my bus stop, which had been graffitied in 666s (See photo above) I was actually starting to laugh about the whole event. In all it was actually quite a positive experience. I was in control.
So that’s how triggers work on me. If you are among my enemies please don’t start running at me with photos of the Devil or with a tiger. It doesn’t work that way. I’d know what you were up to and so see past the trigger. It has to get you off guard and have an accumulative effect. Mind you if you do run at me with a tiger I’m pretty sure that will trigger an anxiety attack for much more obvious reasons.
If you’re a fan of horror I can’t recommend Hereditary enough. If you’re a fan of horror but have similar triggers as me I’d say wait for it come out on DVD. That’s right, I’m not going to say avoid it. I think sometimes you have to go through with the scary ride. Just so you can remind yourself that’s all it is.