Tag Archives: triggers

Deep Wounds ~ Feelings Of Constant Rejection I

This is a processing post. There are so many factors and life history that play into this that I am not covering all of my thoughts. I am sure it is going to spawn off into multiple posts. My mind has been racing, thinking, and connecting. I cannot get it all in one sitting besides I think I have to break this one up into two posts… I did. On facebook the other day, a friend of mine posted a paragraph of self-affirmations. The way she worded it was as though it was how all people talk to themselves, I had a moment with no filters and said something like, “Wow, I never talk to myself like that.” I added something about soaking in those words because I do not do that.

Part of it is my personality, I am not the type to tell myself great things about myself.

I understand that others do and it is good for them – it does not help me in anyway. It makes me feel awkward and I really do not think about those things. Even though I have my challenges with negative thinking I do not think negatively of myself truly. I do know that I accomplish a lot, I am proud of all that I have done and I have no doubt that I will accomplish  what I want to in the future. I do not think about whether I am beautiful or not unless it is brought to my attention in some way – then, I question what I look like not necessarily if I am beautiful.

I do not worry about getting older, I rather like it.

After living the life that I have, I feel like life has just begun. My healing journey has given me the opportunity to relive again. When I look back to my past, I have pain when I look to my future I have hope. The only time I start to feel insecure or think that I should look, act, or be something else is when my social confusion kicks in. If I see many images of a person looking a certain way and people rushing over to like them I will wonder – this has been throughout my life.

I watched the popular people and wondered what made them popular.

I wondered if I were to get the same clothes, shoes, hair style, personality would I be accepted then too? If I listened to certain types of music, watched certain shows, wrote certain types of things then, would I be accepted – acknowledged? The answer is no. It has never worked for me. In my awkwardness of trying to become something unnatural to me I would eventually, grow tired and others dwindled away.

It wasn’t that I wanted to be popular -

It was that I thought that was the right way and my way must be the wrong way because those people had swarms of friends and I had virtually none. I have to fight off the confusion of wondering, Oh, is that the right way? Is this why people ignore me? Am I supposed to be doing that if I want people in my life? Should I be talking about that instead of this? All sorts, of questions arise and lead me into a spiral of panic and fears that somehowsomeway, I am doing something wrong that everyone else knows, but is not telling me.

I am the one that no one notices has left the room, the group, the family.

Ordinarily, I go about my day without a thought of whether I am good enough, I know I am so I do not think about it … until, I am reminded that NO I am not – to some. On days, when I am feeling good and productive I do not give it a thought. I do not spend time thinking about my outward appearance or how I feel on the inside because most days I just am. I feel good if I accomplish things, I feel bad if I do not. When I do not feel productive or as if what I do has no purpose that is when I start to feel down and the negative thoughts come.

However, these negative thoughts did not come from me.

I was not born into this world filled with doubts, fears, insecurities, and the sensation of not being loved. Nope, that has been a long time in the making. Many people contributed to this. Many situations caused me to become so enamored with thoughts that who I am was not good enough, that what I do does not matter, that no matter how hard I try I am still invisible! It is kind of a catch-22 because many times I want to be invisible. I work hard at staying out of the limelight because so many of my family members fit and rage for it.

I do not need that attention, but it does hurt when I am ignored.

The other day Inner Aspie shared this Feeling Unlovable article. I knew that I could not read it on that day so I waited for this morning. It opened up some deep wounds in me that I did not want to accept. The reality is that I feel unlovable. I read this part and immediately had the thoughts of last night racing through my head. I will share those in a moment. Here is what I read.

“This phenomenon is called “rejection” in the therapy trade, but a more appropriate label from the child’s standpoint would be “annihilation.”  The child feels that her validity as a person in her own right has been shattered; she may as well cease to exist.  Since she doesn’t really know how to stop contributing to her own despair, the whole problem is insolvable.  These “feelings” become the attitudes that Julia carries with her into adulthood, and these mistaken attitudes predispose her to behave in ways that are not appropriate to the reality situation.”

Last night, I could not sleep.

It was past midnight and David came in and asked why I was still up. I did not know, I was frustrated because I had to get up early for the kids classes. All I knew was that my heart and mind were racing, I could feel the panic rising in my chest and I was working so hard at keeping myself calm. I was fixating on one word, “embarrass.” Someone had commented on my poetry blog that they would like to give some constructive criticism to one of my poems with my permission and they asked if I would prefer it in a private message as to not embarrass me.

Logically, I found this a positive thing.

I think the poet is very good and if they are willing to take the time to help me improve my writing that is awesome! However, I was already in a wounded state because this weekend was my youngest sisters baby shower and I chose not to go because I knew that I would have all sorts of triggers, trauma, fears, and anxieties being around her and my other sister. We basically have non-existent relationships. I have many wounds in regards to that. It sucks. They do not get me at all and I do not get them.

I would probably not even be concerned about it – we are very different and have very different interests.

However, I am told by my father and my step mom that I am part of that family, but I do not feel like it and that causes me to think about it and try to understand things that my mind cannot understand. I cannot shake those feelings. My sisters do not acknowledge me in real life or even on facebook. They have made it evident that my life is of no concern to them. They do not acknowledge my kids birthdays, anything that I share basically. If there is a photo of my other sister, aunt, and me they will ignore it, but if it is my sister and aunt they “like” it. These types of things feel childish and I hate the fact that I am even affected by it.

On a regular, it does not bother me.

I have too much going on in my life to worry about that stuff. What gets me so upset though, is that my sister not acknowledging my message to her about not coming can derail ALL of my accomplishments and make me feel as though I have not done anything with my life or that ALL that I have done and do has little value. This from people who do not even think about me? They have never commented about the books I published, my blogs, what I do with my kids, autism has never even crossed their lips to me. As far as I am concerned, based on their actions and lack of acknowledging my existence I have no value to them.

Why does that bother me?

Why am I concerned about people who do not even think of me? I can only attribute it to my constant feelings of being rejected by my father and my mother, and the rest of the people who have influenced my life. There are things that I cannot shake. The true root of this particular issue has to do with my dad. My sisters represent my feelings of being in favor and falling out of favor with my dad throughout my life. They have a dad that I never had, they have relationship that I will never have, they ignore me the way that I felt my dad has ignored me.

I have similar feelings with my mom and my other sisters.

Part two continued tomorrow …

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Triggers, Mishmash & Whatnot I

There has been a “new” joke that has paraded around the internet with folks. They have been placing “trigger warning” before any and everything. At first, I was confused by this because trigger warnings are a serious matter to me. I have been abused, and I am diagnosed with PTSD. I have some serious triggers that can affect me and cause me to spiral into PTSD symptoms. Since, I am not normally in the “social know” I had no idea why people were doing this.

I am still unsure, I can infer based upon observations, but I may be inaccurate. :-)

At first, every time I saw the words I took it as a serious warning.  It caused me not to read several blogs because of this confusion. However, I get that it is some sort of joke now after several months. I am not offended or anything, but I would like to address some of the importance behind the words “trigger warning” for people such as myself.

I need the warnings at times.

If I read or see any sort of violence, abuse, trauma, type of posts or images I can be affected in a way that causes me to shutdown or relive my own experiences. Interesting side note: There are certain times when I can watch shows like Law & Order SUV and not have issues, but if I see the actual act of violence even if I know it is not real it can cause a physical reaction and PTSD symptoms.

There are other times when I cannot even look at a violent cartoon.

I have not figured out the why’s of that yet. I have to avoid news and graphic images that show horrible incidents. There are even times when I see a picture of a smiling person who has died that causes me to sink into depression, especially, if it was a horrific scenario. I understand people wanting to share the happy pictures of their loved ones and remember them, but it does cause an emotional response in me. Death I understand, how others respond to death is what I do not understand. I have past experiences of social confusion and hurt when it comes to situations regarding death. It can take me days to recover. My mind, body, and spirit become consumed with images of the person, how they were harmed or passed away, their family and friends who are suffering and many other thoughts form.

If I do not redirect myself, I will start connecting events that are similar from my lifetime.

It can manifest a path of hopeless thoughts and remind me of all the times that I “failed” socially or when people “failed” me with being empathetic toward my requests. My cynical side can wander in and try to convince me that there is nothing good in the world and I can do nothing about it. I used to be unaware of this; I assumed I had no control over these thoughts. I have learned that indeed, I do have intrusive thoughts that seem to come from nowhere, but the discovery of triggers has helped me understand that this is not the case. Many, many things stir my thoughts.

So what are triggers? 

“A trigger is something that sets off a memory tape or flashback transporting the person back to the event of her/his original trauma .

Triggers are very personal; different things trigger different people. The survivor may begin to avoid situations and stimuli that she/he thinks triggered the flashback. She/he will react to this flashback, trigger with an emotional intensity similar to that at the time of the trauma. A person’s triggers are activated through one or more of the five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste.” ~ What is a Trigger?

I am sure that most people are aware of triggers.

However, I wonder how many people on a conscious level know their triggers and know how they affect their daily life. Not many people consider the triggers of children. I am hypersensitive to my children’s triggers. I try to stay aware as much as possible because their triggers can set off a chain of events. Our whole household can turn into a cluster of trigger set-offs! Of course, I am not always on top of it that is not possible. I will use Ariel as an example. A few years ago, she hurt her foot badly from jumping on the bed and falling off. She could not walk on it for about 6 weeks. (Short version) Now anytime she hurts that foot she begins to shake, she starts crying, and will repeat, “Oh, no! Not again, please, please not again.”

It is pretty much word for word every time.

She is accident prone on her feet for some reason. It does not matter if she accidentally stubs her toe or slightly twists her ankle while running, she will respond with wailing, shaking, and the fear that her foot is badly hurt again. I know that my children have triggers from sensory sensitivity as well it causes them to respond in ways that may seem like “overreacting” to people.

Joshua has covered his ears and screamed at the top of his lungs because something was too loud in a store.

Daniel has had a complete meltdown in a Wal-Mart because the lights were flickering and hurting his head. For me, I had no idea that my sensory system felt attacked on an hourly basis in certain environments. I had no idea that the reason why I would lock myself away in my apartment, reading, listening to music, and consuming my special interests that I was creating a healing environment for myself. I did not realize that my stims were bringing me balance and comfort. I did not even know what a stim was until learning about Autism.

emotions012I have many sensory triggers. 

If you have not read this, I highly recommend it PTSD and Autism from the Autism Discussion Page. It is one my favorite resources on facebook.

Sometimes my triggers can be good.

For instance, moving back to my home town I have had several times when the smell of the grass or certain flowers have consumed me and transported me to childhood happiness. There have been moments when I looked at the moon and I could feel the color of purple and indigo making me remember times when I felt safe. My negative triggers have been more consuming for most of my life since it feels like I have many more than positive ones.

Although, that is slowly changing.

I have many social triggers, food triggers, abuse triggers, being manipulated triggers, being rejected, abandoned, isolated, as well as feel good triggers. All of them can have positive and negative effects on me. Linking to two reads here. Never Waste a Good Trigger: Part One and Never Waste a Good Trigger: Part Two. In the past, I allowed my loops to take over my brain – it became an addiction. Whenever I was triggered by something negative, I would let the emotions consume me. It caused me spiral into negative self-talk. I was so familiar with negative feelings that I would actually feel some sort of pleasure from feeding my anxieties and fears.

When I would be triggered, I would go and feed into my trigger creating even more. 

There is something to consider here though, and that is I had NO IDEA that I was triggered by other people’s emotions. Whatever, their triggers and emotional responses to those triggers were would leap onto to me. It truly felt that way. I would be “happy-everything-is-going-well-today-Angel” and suddenly I would be hit with anger, fear, sadness, sorrow, love … etc. I would then, spend hours upon hours trying to figure out what I was feeling and why.

Not only did I have my own inability to discern my emotions, but also I had no clue about how to process other’s emotions.

This alone is traumatic add other components such as being abused from childhood into adulthood by loved ones, friends, and significant others. I was emotionally abandoned which I believe played a key role in my need to find someone, anyone to love me and tell me that I mattered AND existed. I felt invisible and confused much of my life. I would also, go into the polar opposite and feel as though I did not need a single person and I was VERY happy all alone.

I would feel as though I did not need anyone to love me. 

Because of my synesthesia (Remember that synesthesia is a spectrum too not one person is a like there may be similarities, but it is different for each individual.) my emotions and sensory are quite intense. That mixed in with my excellent long- term memory (Most of the time, I have another post coming about losing a chuck of my memory that I only recently discovered was missing.) my triggers can take on a world of their own. Well, they did until I started applying mindfulness as my way of being.

Before that, my world felt much more out of control. 

I felt afraid all the time. I never knew what was going to set me off. I did not understand why things set me off. I did not know that other people did not feel emotions as if they were daggers into the body, or sudden attacks upon their soul. I did not know that others did not see music in designs, that paintings dance, or words have powerful punches with sounds, figures, colors, and movement. I thought everyone felt as I did, but I also knew this could not be the case because people mocked me, got frustrated, or called me “strange” when I shared these things. Social confusion has been one of my biggest triggers. I do plan on writing about that too – it is in progress.

In the next post I share what has helped me and many resources!

Part two tomorrow …

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Making Friends With Triggers II

I believe that those of us who are on the autism spectrum are possibly more susceptible to more traumas on a daily basis. Our intense sensory issues, and if you have synesthesia like I do the sensory world is like being plopped into a whirlwind of emotional and sensory chaos pounding in, through, and out of your body constantly. It can make for traumatic experiences that others would never think of. Even if you do not have synesthesia, sensory processing issues can cause your world to be painful, confusing, and/or scary. Social confusion can cause your world to be emotionally painful, anxiety filled, and scary! Imagine how scary and traumatic this world is when you have no clue that you have sensory issues, social confusion, synesthesia, or that you process very differently from your peers, and others.

Traumatic. 

It is a little different for those on the autism spectrum because sometimes the tiniest thing could be traumatic. For those of us who feel, and experience intensely because of the way our brain is wired, something that is seemingly harmless to the average person may think our feelings of trauma are senseless. Possibly even made-up, irrational, foolish, stupid, attention seeking, annoying, and bothersome. I could add a plethora of adjectives to this list, but I think you get the point. (A side note here,  no one should downplay trauma. Every person is different, the same goes with stress and anxiety, these feelings are real for the person feeling them, whether you believe it are or not. Validate and help, you should not judge and condemn what you do not understand.)

They are none of the above. 

They are real, and they can continue to be damaging if a person is not allowed to heal, express themselves, and learn how to find positive coping mechanisms in a safe environment. Dealing with trauma, I will add PTSD as well, require the ability to work through what has happened without judgment, condemnation, and attacks on how these issues affect another person. Such as a parent, spouse, or friend all need to be supportive in order for the person to heal. These issues need to be validated with acknowledgment, not voicing frustrations because of them. (I do understand the need for mutual understanding for all parties, but there needs to be an awareness of how these difficulties could cause that to be a very hard task.)

Being annoyed or dismissing someones painful experience, however, foolish you may think it is does not help.

For me, I am already frustrated with myself for feeling as if I am overreacting because of a reaction I have toward a sound, emotion, or a word. I do not need another person to add their frustrations to it. I need support, and understanding. I can get better with these situations when I feel encouraged. The more encouragement I get the more confident I am. Positive reinforcement helps me to stop the negative self-talk. I will add that it is important not to do positive reinforcement in a condescending tone, making statements suggesting that it is only being done to appease me, I can “feel” if  it is not genuine, or treat me like a child because that will just tick me off and I’ll go into defense mode. Trauma is different for every person and how it is processed is different as well.

A loud “BANG!” sound at a carnival could cause years of trauma. 

The chaotic surroundings, people, smells, lights, and all of the other sensory input as well as social dynamics will have the person already on defense and filled with anxiety. Even if they want to go, and it was their idea to go, it does not stop the mind from its faulty processing abilities, and social anxieties. Anxiety can be good feelings of complete elation and excitement, and it can be bad anxiety fill with fear, or phobias. When all of the surroundings are intense and all the sudden a loud “BANG!” goes off it could send the person into intense meltdown or complete shutdown.

There is trauma. 

Definition of TRAUMA

a : an injury (as a wound) to living tissue caused by an extrinsic agent <surgical trauma> <the intra-abdominal organs at greatest risk to athletic trauma are the spleen, pancreas, and kidney—M. R. Eichelberger>—see blunt traumab : a disordered psychic or behavioral state resulting from mental or emotional stress or physical injury

: an agent, force, or mechanism that causes trauma

The autistic mind is different when it comes to processing. 

The sound I mentioned earlier, it can be physically painful to hear such a sudden loud sound. Certain sounds can make me want to curl into a ball holding my ears – it makes my stomach hurt in a stabbing pain. Scraping ice literally feels like I am being cut with knives on the inside of my body. I have trauma triggers associated with fire drills at school.  The unexpectedness and the loud sounds of it would cause my body physical pain. I am not even tapping on emotional processing.

Many times, I had no idea that I had experienced something traumatic. 

I only responded with shutdown or meltdown and then, if something happened again I would relive everything. Since I notice patterns, I would (can) relive every single similar thing that has ever happened to me before. There are times when I am experiencing a traumatic situation, but do not know how to explain what is happening. If I feel like I am being verbally attacked with words and I am unable to defend myself, it is traumatic. Verbal trauma triggers can be linked to physical trauma triggers for me.

Many times trauma is associated with abuse. 

While I do have abusers from my past, I believe there is another dynamic that plays out in the autistic mind. We carry memories deep in our psyche, we are unable to process our emotions rapidly, we can lose our ability to speak, or we are unable to explain ourselves properly. We can feel intense emotions of others and have no idea what is happening – these emotions can linger for years. Anxiety and confusion can make us feel hopeless or in a constant defense mode. Everything I have shared reveals that we feel vulnerable, uneasy in our environment, disconnected from our social situations, and we are also trying to process intense sensory input.

It goes into a deeper type of trauma when we feel attacked in an environment that is supposed to be safe.

It can cause serious looping, confusion, anger, fear, anxiety, among other things. I have heard several of the recorded abuse that has happened to autistic children from recent media outlets, and it is beyond infuriating. The poor children who are unable to communicate clearly, or who are unable to tell their parents that they have been bullied by these adults is horrifying. I hear these adults purposely triggering these kids into meltdowns, later these children are labeled as uncontrollable, or worse. These teachers/aides are well aware what triggers these children have because they are part of their IEP’s.

They have been given the information handed to them to be a perfect manipulator/bully/abuser.

I personally do not understand why anyone would want to cause such trauma in a child. I cannot fathom doing such a horrendous thing. However, it does not only happen to children. There are adults as well those who are lower functioning and high-functioning. (I hate these terms, but I do not know how else to word it.) There are people, even those who claim to be supportive who when are under stress, or who are angry will use the triggers to stir some sort of emotional response.

I do not understand this and I cannot articulate what I feel about it.

Maybe they are loving and supportive the majority of the time, which could cause even more deep-rooted trauma for a person on the autism spectrum. When we give trust and it has been violated, or abused in some way it is devastating. I have read that many of us tend to forgive and forget, and can fall into repeated patterns of being manipulated/abused/bullied. We tend to doubt ourselves and get jumbled by social confusion, or intense desire to want to be accepted.

I have been reading quite a bit about relationships for a while.

I have learned that people lash out in emotional states and say things on purpose to be hurtful. Apparently, many people understand that you are supposed to let those moments go. Whatever was said in the heat of the moment is not supposed to be taken seriously. That works for people who do not rely heavily on words to define their world. It works well for those who are able to process emotions easily, or at least able to understand that the emotions are speaking. For those of us who have experienced abuse, bullies, and manipulators it can be traumatic. For those of us who are unable to express themselves, or even know how to connect their emotions it can be traumatic.

It leaves lasting scars, confusion, and triggers. 

It can leave lingering anxiety, and fears. On a positive note it does not have to stay that way. The mind is changeable, ever learning, ready to be transformed, and always seeking. In this area it seems that the more mindful and aware we are of our triggers, whether emotional or physical we can help mold them in a positive way. We can take hold of these things and learn from them. We can take our negative experiences and conform them to new strengths. We can learn what our triggers are and use them to help us prepare, or work through painful experiences that have been holding us back. Some things we will not be able to change about our minds, but we can learn to make our life much easier to understand. If we are able to explain ourselves, and not feel outcast for our feelings we can improve.

We can change, grow, and be productive and proactive.

We can help others, and share our experiences. We need a safe, judgmental free, and caring environment to do this. It doesn’t have to be a lot, many times the slightest bit of genuine encouragement can change a whole lot of things. I think it should be a goal to teach those on the spectrum how to encourage themselves, and gain the tools to have and keep confidence. It is hard to keep it in a world that is constantly attacking differences or things it does not understand. Learning to how to encourage oneself, and learning how to eliminate much of negative self-talk can change someone really quick! :-) We need positive scripts to cast down all of the negative ones. Those words can be for anyone not only those on the autism spectrum. I am making friends with my triggers because they are helping me become friends with myself.

Sound cheesy? Well, I am kind of a cheesy person. Zoinks! :-) 

Resources!

New Clues on Rewiring Your Brain

How Do You Trigger Positive? Find Your Pathways to Happiness

Neuroscientists Identify How Trauma Triggers Long-Lasting Memories In The Brain

Trauma, Triggers and Flashbacks

Friday Video – Janet Treasure (Great quick video talking about eating disorders and autism.)

Gut Almighty

Building Bulletproof Courage

I have been speaking from an Aspergers perspective, but I understand that there are parents who feel trauma, possibly even PTSD raising an autistic child. As I have mentioned all throughout it is different for everyone. The first three to four years with Daniel felt very isolating, confusing, and at times traumatic. We can still have our days. I had my intense reactions, but completely unaware what was happening to me. I felt so helpless and distressed some days. If you are a parent not on the spectrum I understand that you have your own ways of processing and need to feel allowed to speak too. I found this article that may help you. It did help me too.

Autism and PTSD

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Making Friends With Triggers I

I am not sure what comes to people’s mind when they read, or hear the word “trigger.” If you are a survivor of some sort of trauma you know exactly what I mean when I use the word trigger. If it is something, completely foreign to you this word could seem foolish, or even considered irrational. The word trigger could have multiple meanings and uses. We all share a common bond with triggers. They can be positive as well as negative. I have many positive triggers, but my negative ones have been so overriding that it made it difficult to even think about positive ones until recently.

Triggers are used in many outlets, advertisers use triggers all the time. 

Many times they are used to manipulate some sort of emotional response, whether through media advertising, or emotional manipulation. I found this Uncover And Manipulate Your Triggers To Optimise Your Work And Life to have some great ideas. I started doing some of them on my own without realizing what I was doing. People may not think of everyday triggers, and trauma triggers in the same vein. For me triggers are triggers, good ones can lead into negative ones, the negative ones can lead into to positive ones. My brain does not decipher or keep hold of one or the other.

It can be hard to explain. 

Also, what can or has traumatized me may seem rather silly to others. An example, there is a commercial about a water faucet, they show hands covered in all sorts of sensory rich things. I found it here, but could only watch about two seconds – it physically hurts my body to watch this. The first time I saw it I screamed, David thought I was exaggerating in a funny way, but finally realized that when I kept saying, “Get it off! Get it off!” I was serious. Every time I see a glimpse of this commercial, my body feels like it is being attacked. I cannot stand any sort of gooey substance on my hands.

Just looking at the commercial makes me feel like my hands are bound. 

It feels suffocating, and like my hands are stuck and I cannot get them out. I know to write this out sounds ridiculous, but it is true. The commercial causes me physical pain, we can laugh it off, but when I hear the song the TV has to be turned off, or the channel changed, anything to get it off. I have not had some sort of traumatic event where my hands were bound by a substance. I have had time after time when my hands were covered in some sticky residue that I could not get off. As a child, my mom said that I would scream and scream if I had things on my hands. I would stand flapping my hands yelling, “Get it off! I’m sticky!”

I was so inconsistent to her though. 

I would love to play in the dirt and the mud, touch slimy critters, and play in flour. However, when I was done I would immediately start to panic and have to get it off my hands. People have used this particular thing about me to torment me, or mock me. Hence, trigger-happy commercial pulling up many other negative emotions that I had no idea were being triggered until right at this moment. A’ha!

In order for me to take hold of my healing, I have to understand what causes me to react in such ways. 

My brain requires certain types of answers in order for me to become self-reliant. I need to know what keeps derailing me, and I believe my mindset about triggers is a big one. I have been working on them for the past year and rewiring my brain, but I had the mindset that I had no control over them. I didn’t know what they were. I thought they were invading thoughts, or uncontrollable emotional outbursts. I had no idea that my mind was trying to tell me something. I have a lifetime of constant surprise attacks. My environment, my social situations, and my own emotions they have all been like bombs exploding my world at every corner.

The world was so confusing, so unpredictable, and so painful that all I could do was put on my armor. 

I had no time or ability to learn – I had to protect! I did not comprehend that I was disconnected to my emotions, and that I required long times of processing them. In reality, I was unable to process anything. I had been told for a lifetime to “get over it.” Life goes on, other people have it worse, if you express emotions you are weak, etc… I assumed something was wrong with me and I pushed down, or stimmed away anything that I did not understand.

The last trigger that cast me into this mode made me angry.

I shutdown, I could not talk, my mind flooded with thoughts of self-harm because my situation felt hopeless. I felt as if this person had no desire to understand, will never try to understand, and will continually not listen to me. When the thoughts of self-harm and desperation crept up, I decided to take a hold of them. I decided that they were no longer allowed to attack me. I realized that I had done nothing wrong – I was trying to find solutions, and my mind thinks in very different ways.

I was not going to allow myself to take all of what I was feeling and attack myself. 

Instead, I wrote about it. I got it out, and I helped myself see that there were many things wrapped into that situation. I refused to feel hopeless, or like a victim. I decided to take all of my energy and research. I needed to understand triggers, and why my brain automatically goes to self-harm, or self-attack mode. My brain triggers that response when I feel hopeless because I have never felt heard. I have explained this before, but the issue is when I speak what I am feeling people get upset. If I do not speak what I am feeling, people get upset. If I try to write it out, or be very direct, my words end up being used against me.

They are not used in the context in which I meant and that causes confusion. 

I have tried to speak my feelings, pains, and concerns and they have been downplayed through evasively threaded words. I cannot prove a thing, but many times when I have spoken people undermine by being non-responsive, or overpowering it with their own ideas. Even worse taking my ideas and making them their own. I have gotten to the point where I felt like it was pointless to share anything. Again, this has been a lifelong situation. I am not one who makes themselves seen, or one who bursts out trying to take the attention.

I will curl into an inward ball, and hide myself away – for years. 

Trust is something that is very hard to get from me. I have been hurt too many times – by those closest to me. It’s been a life cycle of what feels (actually was at times) like betrayal, abandonment, misunderstood, and as if my voice has been stripped from me. When I have these feeling triggered I shutdown. Recently, my shutdowns have turned into a few meltdowns. I am tired of feeling as if I am a horrible person for having a meltdown. There are so many reasons for a meltdown to take place, but the bottom line is they happen because something is wrong. There are too many factors to pinpoint sometimes, but there is something wrong and the brain wants it fixed.

Simplified definition. :-) 

One way that I have been learning is to know my triggers and no longer allow them to be in control. Sometimes this just cannot happen. Sometimes it is too difficult to realize the trigger, and there must be time to process in a safe place, with safe loving people. What I have been doing is trying to understand triggers – by researching them, I am realizing what many of mine are and how to control them. I have done this in the area of sensory/social input and processing – I am now doing it for emotional input and processing. In the areas of sensory/social, I can now explain when I am feeling overloaded, and many times why. Sometimes not, but I have gotten much better.

I have learned many of my limitations and have accepted them.

I also, have learned the types of people and environments that I fit best in. These are not excuses to not socialize with certain people, I am just unable to have particular types of people in my life. They are toxic and cause me trauma and confusion.  It is important to have people who believe you, and understand the severity of these limitations. It is important also, for them to know you well enough to see where to help push certain limits. If they brush you off, or are constantly confused by this there is a communication misfire somewhere. You need to be heard, understood, and accepted. Many times triggers have caused me to not be able to function. A word or action can send me into another world. Let me give the definition of triggers so we are clear.

What is a Trigger?  (A good read, but mostly focused on abuse. It seems that triggers can be a bit different for those on the autism spectrum.)

A trigger is something that sets off a memory tape or flashback transporting the person back to the event of her/his original trauma.

Triggers are very personal; different things trigger different people. The survivor may begin to avoid situations and stimuli that she/he thinks triggered the flashback. She/he will react to this flashback, trigger with an emotional intensity similar to that at the time of the trauma. A person’s triggers are activated through one or more of the five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell and taste.

The senses identified as being the most common to trigger someone are sight and sound, followed by touch and smell, and taste close behind. A combination of the senses is identified as well, especially in situations that strongly resemble the original trauma. Although triggers are varied and diverse, there are often common themes.

 I did not realize I was doing it, but I cut off music, movies, and books.

I would remove anything from my life that caused me to have emotional triggers. I started to go into a very damaging place and not allowing myself to feel anything. A few years ago I started to take away anything that made me have positive triggers as well as negative ones. There is a whole mess of stuff I need to process there. I am not going to on this post. I have been taking back my positive triggers (memories), and I have been reworking my negative triggers. It has made it possible for me to enjoy music once again. (There is another filtered element of religious condemnation that I had to work through with that as well.) Still I have a different reaction toward music type of triggers, and verbal type triggers.

The triggers are enhanced when I feel confused, anxious, misunderstood, or attacked.

(I am not talking physically.) In the second half of this post I talk more about how having sensory issues and social confusion can cause traumas that people would not usually consider traumatic. Until tomorrow!

Continued Making Friends With Triggers II…

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My Wordi(less) Wednesday

The things that we love tell us what we are. ~ Thomas Aquinas

I never thought about that quote before, interesting I saw it on fb today. I do not do well at being wordless, but today I cannot get out what I would like to get out. My brain is frazzled. Happy yellow day, ended in a cloud of grey, but rose to semi-indigo working into a nice burgundy. That is my color forecast for the day. I did have a strange visual as I lay in bed last night (actually 1:38 am) it involved a dragon, a puff of purple, and some mountains. Strange, but still a pretty image…maybe I can write out the scene. I wish I could draw it the dragon was SUPER COOL! Maybe I shouldn’t share that. Oh, well I did. Today I went on fb and Inner Aspie had posted a Pearl Jam song. I am not going to go into detail, but the song means a lot to me on many levels and I had not heard it in a very long time. I will share the video I found below. The music is soothing to me, the lyrics penetrate my heart, and it brings back memories.

It triggered the memory of the first time I heard Pearl Jam.

It was 1992 way down in South Florida — I had been working for months and made no friends, until a few weeks earlier. This group ended up being the best group of friends I had. They taught me a lot. The group gradually broke up and went separate ways, moving away, going off to school, transferring to other stores etc… Sorry sidetracked. My boyfriend at the time went home to visit for a wedding. I was invited to a party, for the first time with my new friends. I was nervous, anxious, and in order to help ease my worries I made plans to stay the night with the girl who lived in the apartment. When I walked into the apartment, I was struck with the song Jeremy. I was gone — literally, I stood stuck in the music. I do not know why, but the lyrics soared through me and stirred something I could not explain. Once I woke from my other world, I realized people had been talking to me and were looking at me in a strange way. I responded with: “Who is this?” Thankfully, they enjoyed my quirks, and one of the guys was a fanatical Pearl Jam fan. He was happy to oblige all of my questions.

I studied the CD case, and fished through reading everything I could.

They played it several times for me before other people arrived, but then told me gently that we could not listen to this one album all night. I was already excited to discover the album title being “Ten”. Love the number ten. The night went well, and my first social event seemed to be a positive…until a certain guy showed up. I didn’t like him from the get go. His behaviors and actions triggered my past experience with my abusive ex. He was a next-door neighbor, not invited, and loud and rude. He made me swell with rage, and I wanted this bully to “Get Out!” I could not understand why no one was doing anything. I will shorten the version of what happened, he was a complete jerk, he was being degrading to women, especially his girlfriend. I had enough of him and told him to leave. It was not my apartment so he refused, my friend was afraid of him. Eventually I ended up in his face telling him what I thought of him and demanding he leave or I was calling the cops. (I forgot the reason why they freaked out about the cop threat some of us were under age and drinking. Yeah, I would have gone to jail too.) The guys at the party were pulling me away from him, and another group was blocking him from hitting me. My cutting words caused him to punch a hole in the wall instead of me.

That sent me and I was ready for a death match.

Now he damaged my friends apartment! He was going down! Needless to say, I was pulled out of the apartment until they got him out. It was all a blur at this point and his girlfriend was terrified, she and several others came outside begging me to stop. I did not realize that he was an abuser, and I was making things worse for her. I just wanted him out of the apartment, he had such a horrible presence and I could not take his vileness. He left, things settled, and my friends learned rather quickly that I loved music and did not care how big, or bad someone was if they were not invited and were rude I would go in a blind rage to get them to leave. Yes, I have several stories of me doing this with people — for some reason I have never been able, to sit back and allow monsters force people to endure ridicule, and meanness. Some of my life stories scare me to death in hindsight. I cannot believe some of the ways I behaved, and dangers I put myself in. I wish I would have had the same passion to protect myself at times. Oh, let me add this whole episode would be another reason why I should not drink alcohol!

Other things on facebook today, randomly chosen for my whatever reasons…

 

www.facebook.com/AutisticPeople

Hmm…I was happy to see this because I am having some problems with cognitive distortions today, sometimes they are so hard to see as distortions.

www.facebook.com/autismdiscussionpage

 

www.facebook.com/Hahahalaughitout

And now some random pictures! If you scroll on the picture you can see my titles. Whoop!

 

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Music-Clouds-Happy New Year!!

I am utterly shocked at the news that David shared with me this morning. I want to point out that it may not be as devastating to others as it is to me, but it was shocking. He confessed that he did not like a band that I am rather fond of. A band that was pivotal in my life, during my heavy metal era. They were actually the only band that I was obsessed with, did not have a crush on any of the band members, their lyrics rang deep into my spirit, and the screechy vocals and guitar riffs soothed my aching soul.  I related deeply to the sounds and the songs, and they both comforted me in my isolated feelings and depression.

I liked a lot of different music, but heavy metal did something for me.

I believe now it caused deep pressure and was much like a hug machine for me. Even though I am not a fan of crowds I was frequently found at rock concerts. I spent a large portion of my teenage years and young adult life at rock concerts. When I became a Christian I traded my “secular” concerts for Christian music concerts. Many times the music was as much “rock” as I could get. The sounds and feel of concerts energized me. I loved watching people sing in unison at any genre of concert. There is something about people all singing together that moves me. I would normally have my eyes closed, or I would fixate on one of the band members singing or playing their instrument. But when I would hear the band stop playing and everyone would start to sing together, I would open my eyes and watch.

It is such a magical moment.

I can see waves flow from the mouths of people, the calm enter, and for a moment in time there is complete peace. It occurs with only certain types of songs, but when it does I am so happy to stand outside of myself and watch the dancing notes floats around. This band that I was talking about will be inducted in to the Rock Hall of Fame. I had every album, (except the 2008) I sat up all night listening to them many times, and I would lie in my bed and let my emotion’s work through the tunes. I did this with several other bands as well, but I am talking about this one because I just got their greatest hits off of iTunes (gift card, yea!). I have been listening to them.

I have allowed myself to listen to them.

When I stopped listening to anything except Christian/worship music I threw out their albums along with many others…tons. I threw out all of my concert shirts and ticket stubs that I had collected. I cried when I threw them all out, I felt like I was doing the right thing at the time. Maybe I was for that moment in time, but now I wish I had them all back. I never got to see this band in concert and I was sad about that, they are none other than Guns-N-Roses. I was so excited when I discovered during my still listening to them phase that my boss went to school with Axl Rose. He was not much impressed with him and told me so, but he knew my love for their music and shared whatever questions I had.

It was so ironic to me because we were both over a thousand miles away from our hometowns.

Yet, he knew the lead singer of one of my all time favorite bands. It really isn’t that ironic I guess, but we can pretend. I do not know how David and I got on the topic of music this morning, but for some reason G N’ R came up. He then disclosed his lack of enthusiasm about the band. Let me explain in a little more detail my obsession with the band, I knew every single lyric to every song even if I thought it was not that great. I could play air drums and guitar to perfection to each song, AND I had (still) Axl’s Rose’s dance down to perfection. I learned the majority of that dance first from Davie Jones of The Monkees — he does it quite well in this video of Daydream Believer. (Horrible sound quality, sorry…you can see it at around 1:26)

I connected to the band so much because it spoke my heart during that time in my life.

I read everything I could about them, and collected information about their lives. How could David not love them?? I know, I know not everyone is going to like my music. David is more on the punk rockish side, while I am more on the head banging side. Ha ha ha We do have different tastes in music for sure, but we are not limited to those genres. It is just funny to say. I bring this band up because I tried listening to them a while back and it hurt too much. I forced myself to listen to them, and write out what I was feeling. There was a lot going on in my life while I was listening to their music. It was between 1987-1993 that some of the most traumatic events happened to me, in regards to me listening to this band to sooth me. (I threw out all of my cd’s and tapes in 1999, and started replacing them with new music.). My favorite of their albums were Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II. I waited in excited anticipation for those to come out.

During that time my best friend got pregnant.

She moved in with her new boyfriend and the one time sealed at the hip pods that we were was now severed. I ended up moving in with my second boyfriend, who did not attach to me like my friend. My friend’s brother was killed in a horrible car accident, and I did not know how to process the loss of her as a friend. I lost her to her new man, and then she completely changed after her brother died. I didn’t even know how to process his death because he was my first boyfriend’s cousin, and his best friend in the whole world. He was also very mean to me, lied about me, made fun of me, got girls to go out with my ex while were together, he was just plain mean. He called me horrible names. I was overwhelmed with the sadness for them, and the conflict of my own relief that this bully in my life was gone.

I felt horrible, and like an evil person.

I didn’t understand how so many people could love him. He was not only mean to me either, there were plenty of people including his family that he was mean to. I witnessed several times his bullying or tormenting being lashed out on his sisters, mother, and various other people in the family. Apparently around the end of his young life he had changed, and started to be a lot nicer. He got back with his ex-girlfriend who was very sweet, and they got pregnant. His life was changing, and my friend even told me that he had said very nice things about me before his death. I do not know if it is true or not. I didn’t realize how much that all affected me because I am currently tearing up a little bit. I have carried guilt for my feelings toward him — I felt abandoned by my friend I have tried to not let anyone get that close to me again. I felt emotionally abandoned by my boyfriend at the time. I started cutting myself regularly at that time. (I stopped cutting around 1994 I forced myself to stop, but still had the urges.) It was a very lonely and confusing time in my life.

It is a huge triumph to be able to listen to this band without any of these triggers hurting me.

There are several favorite songs I have of theirs, but three stuck in me Don’t Cry, I held on to and trusted in the lyrics to get me through to the next morning on some nights. Civil War rang in my spirit, and still does, and November Rain because where I lived the November rain was so cold, and seemed to last a lifetime. Also, because I believed them, I felt the lyrics and believed in them. I sat many nights sending out my thoughts, fears, aches, desperate cries of isolation, and longing out into the universe to be heard. I felt somehow all of me would be caught with others in this musical connection and it made me feel not so alone.

I don’t feel those specific alone feelings anymore, even those feelings that rose recently.

I have listened to the songs, sang loud, and did my Axl Rose dance with vengeance! Woot! Maybe they will do a reunion…probably not. I can pretend, and create a whole rock concert in my living room like I used to. :-) I haven’t even started the New Year here and already I am making some great changes in my life. I am looking forward to 2012. I know I am still working through things, but I feel stronger and stronger every day in who I am…becoming. I am also feeling able to be myself without a care. I still cannot believe David doesn’t like Guns-n-Roses, pure silliness. I’m kidding! I shouldn’t be surprised he doesn’t like a lot of my music, I always forget! I guess I have a good memory for certain things. Lol!

I bid you Happy New Year, I am leaving with a lovely song, and some clouds!!

The song is not a Guns and Roses song. It is much tamer and French!

Carla Bruni – L’Amoureuse


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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