Getting Triggered by the News

I make a conscious effort to try and stay off certain news outlets. It’s a tricky line to walk sometimes because I’m inherently curious and interested in what is happening in current events around the world. I don’t want to live in a bubble. I want to know whats happening, I want to be able to critically think about things so I can form my opinions and have thoughtful conversations.

While I was going through the throes of processing my memories, my therapist had me follow the “puppy and kitten rule.” My symptoms were at their worst. I was in and out flashbacks, my anxiety was almost constant, along with panic, fear, and a complete lack of feeling safe.

The puppy and kitten rule was that I could watch anything as long as it included cute puppies and kittens. I stayed away from the intense news, was mindful of what I watched on tv and what movies I saw. I watched lots of comedy. There were times when I broke the rule. I watched a movie with violence, or there were sensationalized cases in the media of abuse, or exploitation that I couldn’t avoid, and I would get triggered.

As I began to manage my symptoms, had more tools, felt some sense of safety and was not living in a constant state of panic, the puppy/kitten rule was lifted. Because I had been so careful about what I ingested from media outlets for so long, I developed an avoidance for watching or seeking out certain information because I knew it may be triggering.

Recently, there has been a story in my newsfeeds when I check my email or scroll through some media outlets. I have done my best to avoid opening the articles and reading through them. No one around me is talking about it, because in reality, this news story would not be on their radar. It wouldn’t interest them. But because my trauma is sort-of similar to this continuing story, I am on high-alert when I scroll past it. I have a definite curiosity about the details but haven’t read anything besides the headlines.

Until today!

Today when I logged on to check my email, the headline had changed. It caught my attention and I clicked on it and read. Because I haven’t read any other details I was kind of lost in the information, but I got the gist of it. I understood and could relate to what happened to the victim that was speaking out. I felt sick that this kind of trafficking still goes on, and in my mind, will probably continue to exist in the underbelly of our society.

Then I got triggered.

I’m not used to those kinds of triggers any longer. There is plenty for me to navigate in my daily life, and anniversary times of the year, and I thought I was further along in my healing journey and that I would be okay. But PTSD doesn’t operate that way. It doesn’t care that I was just reading an article, and it doesn’t care that this organization had absolutely nothing to do with me. I have never heard of it, and don’t know anything about it. PTSD simply understands that my sense of safety and trust is destroyed because of the trauma I experienced, and my brain and body will go into the memory and protection mode automatically.

After reading the article, I could tell that something was awry in my body/mind/spirit. I could tell things were stirred up in a way that I could spiral down the cycle of panic, fear, and shame.

I closed the computer, went to gentle yoga, then acupuncture, then reached out to my therapist, who helped me understand that today I fought the tiger. Making sure I understood before I left that, not only did I fight the tiger, but that I won. Any shame I was feeling dissipated with that fabulous metaphorical support.

I know I can’t just forget about what I read. I am trying to stay with the feelings, gain perspective, and use my tools to stay grounded. It’s been a difficult day. I’m irritable as I fight the flashbacks, and I’m upset with myself that I read the article. I’m also trying to forgive myself for having a natural curiosity, and an interest in the subject matter because it hits so close to home for me.

Seeing things written, or in movies, tv, or media can bring a sort of validation. A sense of look, I’m not making this up!  When you are a trauma survivor you look for validation. My trauma is so “out of the ordinary” and so unrelatable that it’s extremely rare that I feel validation. It’s part of acceptance and knowing that my truth is validation enough. But that doesn’t come easy, and it ebbs and flows.

Today was validation that I can indeed still be triggered by the news. With this information, I know I need to remember the puppy/kitten rule when it comes to specific topics, take good self-care and keep scrolling.

Advertisements

47 thoughts on “Getting Triggered by the News

  1. Thank you so much for sharing Glenna. The way you describe the monster under the bed and why you’re drawn to those kinda of shows is very insightful. I really believe its that validation we look for, and how you brought up, being ready to have to face the evil again. Thank You so, so much for reading my book. Really, it has made my night that you let me know you read it and liked it. Yay! Im glad we’ve connected with our blogs. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, thank you so much for your knowledge and clarity on triggers. I could not understand why I am afraid of the dark and the monster under my bed at 50 and then watch paranormal shows. Its like trying to study the evil you think you might have to face and you get consumed by it. I loved your book and I see I also like your Blog..

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for the support Brendan. I really appreciate it. It is a tricky balance sometimes isn’t it! The wonderfulness of WP is we find out how common our anxieties really are, no matter the places we live.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I know many people who go through this difficult balance here…how on one hand you want to follow the news and what’s going on, but on the other hand the news is just really triggering. You’re far from being alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. At times when my PTSD was at its worst, I could only watch shows like Little House on the Prairie or Seventh Heaven- nice, simple family shows that had minimal issues occurring an if they did, they were solved within 60 minutes. I totally understand the triggering and I find that even when my mind does not catch it immediately, my body surely will and then I will be trying to figure what exactly HAS triggered me.
    God, it’s exhausting.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for your support and encouragement! You are truly a blessing in my life. It makes it so much easier to have people who understand give such positive feedback. Thanks for the tip on drinking water – I definitely drink way too much coffee and not nearly enough water. I am probably in a perpetual state of dehydration! I will start drinking more water and see if it makes it easier for me to ground.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow Barbara, Thank You for sharing with me. Its terrible when those flashbacks come out of nowhere especially when we are trying to be mindful. Im so sorry that happened to you, and then the flashbacks. Ugh! I had to deal with some self-talk because I intentionally read that article, but then I stopped. I was feeling crappy enough, I didnt need to add a second arrow.
    Today I feel better. Exhausted but better. One of the first things my therapist did when I went to see her yesterday was have me drink water. I didn’t realize when we are in full on triggered, flashback mode that we become dehydrated. So I learned something new. It was interesting because Im a huge water drinker, and I hadnt had a drop of water since I read the article at 7 am. So 8 hours later when I saw my therapist and drank it was easier to ground a bit too.
    Geez, we are a constant work in progress aren’t we?! 😁
    Have a great Friday my friend. Thank you for your support, you make a huge difference in my life-for real!
    ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank You, Brigid. I do feel better today. As my therapist said to me, I fought the tiger and won. Today, I just finished sageing the house and myself which helps me feel grounded and peaceful 💐

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Sorry to hear you had to go through that, but I’m so glad you’re taking care of yourself. I am somewhat selective in what I read or watch on the news, in movies, books, magazine articles, but sometimes my curiosity gets the better of me. Whenever I consciously read something that I know might be triggering, at least I am prepared. What really gets me is when I’m caught off-guard. I watched a movie a while back (I don’t recall the title) and it happened. The movie was a simple drama. Then, out of nowhere, once I had become invested in the lead female character, she was raped by someone she knew. I shut off the movie as soon as I realized what was going on, but it was too late. I was catapulted into a flashback of being date raped by an actor in a show I was co-producing. I was able to ground myself, but it was traumatic nonetheless.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. … I steer the conversation to ‘what positive things happened in your life this week?’ or ‘what are you grateful for today?’ Anita, this is fabulous. It keeps the conversation moving in a positive, loving different and also puts that positive energy back out there in the universe. Thank you for sharing with me and as always thank you for your support. Im glad we’ve connected. ❤️❤️

    Like

  11. Thanks Andrea. I really appreciate your feedback. It makes a huge difference knowing that I wasn’t alone in this. I love that you have a cute dog account on Instagram. The fabulous ways we practice self-care are amazing to me.

    Like

  12. Bless your honesty, and keep fighting the temptation to be involved in news stories. I’m like you. I have to make a choice every time I sit in the TV room. If it’s not uplifting switch off. I don’t know what’s going on in the world but when with friends I steer the conversation to ‘what positive things happened in your life this week?’ or ‘what are you grateful for today?’. It takes them by surprise at first but you can get some beautiful responses!!! Much love. Anita

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I am exactly like this as well. Anything can trigger me and I have to be careful what I might read signs when I go outside the house.
    I actually created an instagram account for the purpose of following all cute dogs account. I can watch them all day long and feel peaceful.
    Wonderful post and a great advice from your therapist.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I totally understand where you are coming from Alexis! I have so many reasons why I just can’t watch or read anything the has anything to do with the news! i find the news so upsetting and tragic! I feel so sad for what the US has become and honestly maybe it always has been this way, but I was so naive to everything. Now the news causes me so much sadness, anger and a massive amount of anxiety.I know it is smart to be informed, but my goodness it seems as though nothing good is happening and that is nothing short of tragic!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I don’t watch the news anymore for this reason. I mean obviously it’s not easy not to see things when they are in your emails, on the magazine covers, everywhere you look but I try not to read any of it

    Liked by 1 person

  16. thank you for sharing this powerful piece Alexis. there are words that trigger an emotional response and i learned from you today not to be afraid to identify it and move around and away from it. be strong my friend and use those coping methods and know you are thought of with much love and kindness.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. We are so bombarded by news on all social media sites that is hard to keep away. PTSD is a very tricky thing and we never know when it will strike. I hope you will be able to manage your anxiety down and regain a sense of peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. You are much better than me with keeping up with the news and I know how careful you are with what you watch and read. Thats Good self-care my friend. 💛

    Like

  19. Jacqueline S Zeigler

    Totally get what you are saying. I can read news because I can be really selective. Cannot watch cop shows, hospital shows, verbal abuse, scary Halloween type movies, or action with violence. Don’t go the puppy/kitten route but let’s just say Netflix doesn’t get much of a workout. Can’t go to friends to watch movie on cable or Netflix either because I have to be so selective. Also have to be careful reading books-including yours my dear. It’s been this way for years.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. So sorry to hear. I hope you find your bearing again…and let go of the news you saw/heard. It’s so hard to dodge them lately…they are everywhere….but try to stay away from them if you can.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s