Trigger Warning Not (Usually) Required

ancient-1793421_640Last night, feeling a little bit discombobulated (I adore that word) that a few people who I thought would like and appreciate the stuff I write here have avoided it, I reached out to one, very casually, and just asked. Sort of the third question in a short chat – the oh-wait-afterthought technique, I call it. Of course, having said this, I’m completely busted now, but that’s the price you sometimes pay for all this freaking self-honesty crap. I know I have said that this is my own personal journey but I am a social being and I still want my friends to like what I do.

This person, someone who I know suffers the same injury as me, suggested that she was afraid some of the things I write about would trigger a reaction inside her own lizard brain. I was gobsmacked, not because she’d said that but because I had never even considered it. Me, the 6’2”, 250lbs guy that decides what movie to watch based on how much I think it’ll make me cry, and still freezes whenever a little old lady walks past my apartment door and plots the dash to his (still dodgy) car to avoid as many passers-by as possible. Admittedly, with some positive and healthy management tools, I am getting much better at that stuff, but it’s still an issue and was much worse of one for many years. How could I not have thought about this before?

I personally am acquainted with at least three people writing or having written books about their experiences as a veteran or first responder with PTSD. There are many more out there that I’m aware of. I’ve flat out admitted I’m probably not going to read any of them, and I’ve balked at a friend when he wanted to watch American Sniper with me because of the trigger potential. While at first, I felt like an idiot for not having thought about it with my own work, when that settled, I began to examine why.

In the About page it specifies that this is not going to be a blog about emergency services, PTSD, advocacy for mental health, or any of that other jazz despite my personal history, but because of that same history some of it will be here nonetheless. I meant that. There will be things hard to read for some people, and I know that because they will be hard to write for me. Today is Day One is a great example or Miles to Go Before I Sleep another. That is not the focus I want for this, or myself, however. Rather, I want to write things that explore the more esoteric philosophical ideas of emotional existence rolling around in my head like marbles; examine practical, healthy aspects of living a life at relative peace with the world, both inside and out, and tools we can use to achieve that; talk more about quality of life than whatever shitty road I took to get here; and occasionally have a bit of goofy fun. It won’t always be sunshine and unicorn farts, I knew that going in, but there will not be any horror stories either.

I don’t want to write ‘em, and you don’t want to read ‘em.

I think this was what I had in mind when I wrote that first long-form Facebook post that led to this blog. In the magical wizarding world inside our noggin closets, we often know what we want but can’t express it in linear fashion so easily. My inner Harry Potter didn’t foresee there being any triggers, so I never considered them at all.

Honestly though, who am I to judge what will be a trigger for someone? I don’t often know what will do it to me anymore. Ambulances don’t, but yellow cars seem to tickle my amygdala a little bit now, go figure. So with that in mind, I will lable the potentially less easy reads with a warning, but I suspect there will be relatively few of them. My intention is to validate and help (myself, but others too, if they find it here), not hinder good health and well-being. I have been through my rage from the rooftops phase, shaking my fist in silent fury at the systemic moral injuries inflicted on my poor soul, and found no solace there at all.

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One thought on “Trigger Warning Not (Usually) Required

  1. Some folks trigger easily, depending on the stage of their recovery. Others, like myself, have come to grips with many of our triggers (and not so well with others). If you were, for example, gratuitously describing grotesque accidents and dangerous incidents (the key is “gratuitously”) I would probably tune it out after the first few lines and just move on. If you were to describe panic attacks from being in large crowds or passing an accident on the freeway, however, I would read it and empathize. It depends on the individual, their experience and their current symptoms. I think it’s important that you post what moves you, without elaborate “warnings,” and let readers decide as they get into your post whether they want to continue or not. In any case, I’ve seen nothing that particularly disturbs me thus far, anyway–it’s all in the realm of good writing. Keep it up.

    Liked by 1 person

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