Lately, I have been avoiding particularly depressing things because I’ve never done that before. I’ve never been one to avoid so-called “triggers” and today I’m going to talk about triggers.
Triggers are used a lot now, along with trigger warnings. I have various conflicting opinions on trigger warnings. triggers can be anything that incites a powerful reaction from a person (this is as I understand it). I’ve read stories of people being triggered by what could be assumed to be “typical” triggers; videos of historic mental asylums, loud noises, horror movies etc. and other people who have been triggered by things I would call un-typical or unavoidable ; eggs, certain holidays or time of year, colours, jean jackets (this one’s mine) etc.
Triggers can be very harmful and avoid them can be better for the person who has experienced trauma or has a mental illness. however, I have a thing about trigger warnings that gets on my nerves. Some people will say that trigger warnings should be on potential triggers but, as I said triggers can range from a smell to a scene of historical violence. There’s also an amount of common sense that goes into avoiding triggers. If you’re taking a criminal psychology class you should expect to see violence and come in contact with stories or people who have done horrific things. Same with history, we all know that in the past some fucked up shit has happened and that’s going to come up.
I’m certainly not saying that there should never be trigger warnings. In England programmes that contain upsetting images, adult language, flash photography and they provide helplines after any episode of a program that may cause emotional effects or for people dealing with similar issues. I think if you go into something that for example may look like a romantic comedy and suddenly there is a murder scene then that is unthoughtful of the makers to not include a warning so that it can be avoided by those triggered by violence/death.
Although, in the end, I do feel like there can be again from exposing yourself from potential triggers. For instance, travel in even the most mundane way can cause a lot of anxiety for me, some plan journey I don’t even really remember, but I can’t stop travelling. I take the bus to work and school so it’s impractical. I also will never avoid jean jackets or people wearing jean jackets because it reminds me of my dad. In fact, I bought a jean waistcoat.
But, to come back to my own present experiment or avoiding particular triggers. I decided to not read an article about cancer because of my dad’s death and I knew it would bring down my mood. I haven’t listened to many mental health podcasts lately because I wanted to see if my fascination with learning and consuming all the info on mental health was indeed making it a little worse. After all, ignorance is bliss. But this has also led to me talking about my mental health less and I don’t like that. I love talking about mental illness.
So what is the answer? Trigger warnings: Good or Bad?
It’s not up to me to decide. I suppose we first must understand triggers. Maybe it’s more about allowing powerful emotional displays to be less shameful and more acceptable. Again it comes back to talking and learning about this thing that is so subjective and difficult to put in a neat box with a pretty bow on it.
For me, I am learning that it’s okay to avoid some things that may cause my mood to drop. But, I am also very aware that I have helped myself so much by facing my triggers and doing my version of aversion therapy.
Updates may be to come.
Thanks for reading,