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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Rape, Trauma, Money: The Economics of my Mental Illness

www.bettysbattleground.com-I will not be silenced anymore.

How surviving rape and developing PTSD has kept me poor-bettysbattleground.com

Even if I don’t exactly remember the day, my mother has told the story enough times to imprint what looks like a memory into my mind. We’re at my elementary school playground. It’s a mild, overcast day, because it’s Seattle, and yet everything seems to glow, as if drenched in sunlight, because it’s a memory of my childhood. I am seven…no: eight years old. My hair is still blonde, my eyes a grey-blue that will turn hazel brown within a year or two. In my story-memory, I am wearing a frilly white dress; pleated skirt, pink and yellow tulips stitched across my chest. In reality, I was probably wearing something more like pink sweat pants and a green sweatshirt with some kind of smiling cartoonish animal printed across it.

I run over to my mom from the playground, cheeks ruddy from play, eyes glittering. I have something to tell her, something important. I wait a moment, pause to catch my breath, then lean toward her, voice low and conspiratorial, and confess, “Mom, I think I’m going to be famous.”

Kids are notorious wild fantasizers. Hearing a child declare her future fame is not uncommon or particularly noteworthy, but when I said it, I really meant it. I believed in my future fame. It wasn’t completely unfounded. I had my first poem published when I was eight, in The Sow’s Ear Poetry Reviewa magazine to which established poets aspire for publication. I made my first $100 off writing that same year, and for several years I was the chronic first place winner at the Mercer Island Books youth poetry contest. I’m not telling you all this just to brag. I’m telling you this because I was not born a failure. I had every reason to believe that I would grow to be, if not actually famous, a successful writer. Or at the very least, not poor.

My mother, who once loved to recollect the story of my self-predicted fame, has stopped telling it. Last week, I missed therapy because I had to go to the Department of Human and Health Services to apply for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program. Otherwise known as Food Stamps. I hold two writing degrees, and still receive compliments and offers for publication, but I am also unemployed, my credit is an abyss I will never crawl out of in this lifetime, and I struggle to maintain tenancy in a roach-infested rundown apartment owned by Seattle’s most notorious slumlord.

Why? Why does someone who once held so much promise, whose claims to future fame were believed not only by herself but everyone else too, who could incite middle school kids to forgo recess to rehearse in the plays she had written; why is she living chronically poor on the brink of homelessness?

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Parenting with Mental Illness: Sheila (CPTSD+Bipolar Affective Disorder)

Parenting with Mental Illness, a feature interview series on bettysbattleground.com

It’s Monday, and today Monday means yesterday was Mother’s Day, and now it’s over.

Is anyone else glad about that?

Don’t get me wrong…it wasn’t a bad Mother’s Day…my husband made me fancy-ingredient gourmet waffles and changed (most of) all the diapers; my mom and son came over for Cuban congri and yuca (and pork, for them) that didn’t quite match up to what my Abuelita would have made, but it had the general flavor. So overall it was nice.

Vegan yum on bettysbattleground.com

Some grubber with chubby fingers can’t wait for strawberries

I don’t want to ramble too much on a post that really isn’t about me, but let’s just say that holidays in general give me problems, and holidays in which I am the sole or partial focus give me even greater problems. So externally, it was actually very nice, but interally, I still had a difficult and depressing weekend. I’ll miss the gourmet meals and lack of poop cleaning, but I won’t miss the soul-sucking, vertiginous depression.

Sweet moment with Mama and son on bettysbattleground.com

Happy Mother’s Day <3

Today we continue the celebration of mothers with Sheila from Parallel Dichotomy. You may also remember her as the author of the Trauma Informed Care piece I ran earlier. In that piece she talked about a positive model for trauma treatment. In this one, she gets more personal, discussing what it’s like to parent after trauma.

Sheila has been through a lot of really serious trauma. Trauma can’t be quantified by length of experience-we hear that all the time-but I do think the fact that most of her life has been in an abusive environment plays a factor in the extent of her trauma. She struggles a lot, understandably, but in this interview she also demonstrates a host of coping skills and the ability to talk about her experience in a cogent, intelligent manner. I was able to relate to a lot of her answers (a lot), but something I could not relate to was the level of self-support she has, and most especially, the level of outside support she has.

As a society, we applaud trauma survivors who care for themselves; who pick themselves up and heal and get themselves to the place where they can feel and behave and react appropriately. And that’s a great place to aspire toward…but I think it’s really important to remember that as much personal strength and toil it takes the survivor to get there, and as much as she does deserve accolades when she does and while she tries, it also takes a lot of outside support. There is a huge difference in outcome between trauma survivors who have caring, sustained support, and those of us who don’t.

In this interview we see the struggles of a woman who has experienced much, much more than her fair share of hardship, and who is still learning how to be a mom while caring for herself properly. We also get a glimpse as to how trauma survivors should be supported. Hopefully, reading this will help people understand the importance of support in healing; as well as the need for compassion towards mothers who have experienced trauma.

Meet Sheila on www.bettysbattleground.com

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