The Great Trigger Warning Debate: Why I Don’t Use Trigger Warnings, Even Though I’m An Educated Liberal With PTSD

Why I don't use trigger warnings even though I'm an educated liberal with PTSD on bettysbattleground.com

I have had PTSD, the result of severe and prolonged domestic violence, for over nine years. I am actively in therapy; I attend both one-on-one counseling and a peer support group every week. I regularly engaging in mindfulness practices like yoga, exercise, intentional breathing, or mindful cooking and playing. I know how to use grounding practices to help myself out of a flashback. I am learning how to ask for help when I need it.

Nonetheless, I get triggered, at least slightly, almost every day. I expect this will be the case for the rest of my life. The experience of being triggered, for me, ranges from slight passing discomfort, to total day-long (or even week-long) debilitation.

The last time I was triggered was yesterday. My husband, in a fit of boisterous energy, slapped a paper cup that had been left on a garbage bin, knocking it to the ground. He wasn’t angry, and he wasn’t trying to trigger me; it was a benign, even playful motion. Just a random burst of energy that my husband, who used to train MMA religiously, turned into a moment of target practice. But it reminded me of a much darker moment when cups and cutlery were knocked to the ground.

I didn’t have a flashback; I guess the effects of this trigger could be categorized as an “intrusive thought.” I remembered, very suddenly, a date I went on with The Ex. We were having a late dinner at a Japanese restaurant. We’d ordered a fair amount of food, which amounted to a pretty hefty bill; Japanese-American food is not known for its low prices. About midway through the meal, a young waitress approached our table and informed us that the restaurant would be closing soon. I smiled, said okay, and resumed eating. She hadn’t kicked us out. As I recall, she didn’t even deliver the bill. But The Ex laid down his fork and began to stare. Not at anyone or anything; just a blank, inscrutable gaze. I would see it again, in my apartment, before he threw sour cream across my good friend’s hair and body just for the crime of holding my son. It’s the expression he makes when contemplating whether or not to give in to rage.

I have never seen him decide against rage.

After a moment of staring, of deciding, he swept his arm across the table, sending almost every cup, bowl, and plate shattering onto the floor.

“I’m sorry,” he said, in the bumbling ‘good-guy’ voice I’m now seeing him affect in court. “I’m sorry,” then sweeping what was left on the table to the floor. “I’m sorry,” the last few plates, the last cup, to the floor.

My husband didn’t mean to trigger me. And he hadn’t done anything wrong; the cup was discarded, empty. He put it in the trash after. He just wanted to practice his aim, to play around. Nonetheless, it triggered me.

And that’s one of the reasons I don’t believe in the use of trigger warnings.

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Book of the Weeks 5/22-6/4/2017: “Oryx and Crake”

by Margaret Atwood

A review of Oryx and Crake on bettysbattleground.com

When I was fifteen, I dropped out of high school. I did it for a number of reasons; high school sucks, everyone knows that. But the biggest reason, the crucible factor, was methamphetamine. I had begun to hang around The Ex, who had used his characteristic mixture of charm, threat, and manipulation to get me to try meth.

Meth wasn’t my favorite drug in terms of effects, but let me tell you: the comedown is harsh. I mean, once that drug leaves your system for the first time, you feel like you’ve been thrown into a garbage truck and run through the masher. I don’t know what the “normal” response is to that feeling, but the addict-mentality response is to take more of the drug. Which is what I did, and I became hooked. I’d get clean within two years; like I said, it wasn’t really my thing. But it did cause me to drop out of high school.

As a result, my basic scientific knowledge is lacking. Of course, I took the requisite science class in college, but my lab science was a study abroad in Costa Rica where I basically counted twigs while sunbathing and flirting with the Ticos. My MFA had no science requirements. I’m a smart person, but fundamentally uneducated on certain topics. So, when I hear about the marvels and dangers of genetic engineering, I’m kind of in the dark. I get it, I get the basic concept, but not the details. I certainly could not have written this weeks’ choice book, Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood.

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Fiction Fridays FINALE

bettysbattleground.com

You read that title right. It’s the last Fiction Fridays. The Grande Finale…

I would have loved to keep it going, but people haven’t been responding to the prompts. People have, however, been responding to my guest post calls. Bumping Fiction Fridays means I can open up more space to publish guest posts! Which is great because I hate e-mailing people who have just sent me a post telling them I can’t fit them in until September.

So, as sad as I am to let go of Fiction Fridays, now I get to e-mail all my guest posters with publication dates in the reasonable future! Hooray!

Truth is, I also am not being reliable with the fiction writing. I forgot writing all these blog posts is, well, writing, and while it may not be fiction, it’s still time and mind consuming.

If I have any fiction fans out there: never fear! Fiction is my first love, and I am going to continue posting it regularly..but I’m going to make Betty’s Battleground more focused on the PTSD/mental illness themes, and I am instead going to become more regular about posting my fiction on my Niume author page. So subscribe and follow me there, if you’re a fan! Or follow me on Twitter, where I’ll post links and updates as I publish stories. OR, subscribe here, and I’ll include some links to my favorite stories each month in my monthly newsletter.

Finales always have to be big blow-out spectaculars right? Well this is a creative writing finale, so no fireworks, but I’ll do my subdued writerly version. The story I am posting is long. It’s also one of my best, so if you like my writing, it’s worth reading through. It’s also directly related to the themes of this blog, as it contrasts the healing experience of two rape victims; one who is affluent, and one who is not. One last thing; While the Fiction Fridays archive will remain a live link on the bettysbattleground domain, it is no longer going to be available on the Main menu after next Friday. So if you like these stories, be sure to bookmark the archive page, or Pin it.

Here you go friends…the Fiction Fridays Spectacular Finale!!

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