Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Trigger Warning [I don't care about your 'triggers']

Before I went to war, if anyone had talked of "trigger warnings" I'd have laughed myself silly.  The idea that people who have not truly lived could be "triggered" into a state of hysteria or catatonia of fear fills me now with chagrin.  What could you possibly be "triggered" by if you've never truly experienced something traumatic.  

I have.  There were things that happened to me that were so traumatic I still, almost a decade later, have not gotten over it.  I felt fear such as I can not describe.  It made me sick in my stomach, and made it difficult to function.  I felt shame for my failures.  People died and I couldn't do a damn thing about it.  

It wasn't until late 2007, that I realize how deeply I was effected.  There is a song that played in a favored bar, a song played at a buddy's service in Iraq, and I was right back on that terrible day that he died.  The smell of the burning HMMMWV was in my nose, the crackling of rounds cooking off, the fear that I'd lose more of "my guys" and that terrible moment that I realized that for a half hour my friend had been put so completely out of my mind that he didn't even exist.  

That song, sadly popular, would actually trigger episodes.  At first I would be right back there in Iraq.  I avoided this song like it was the plague.  Unfortunately, it's a rather popular song and I can't really avoid it.  Eventually, the flashbacks became bouts of intense emotions.  Eventually it just became unpleasant.  I can accept the trauma that happened, and I can accept that my reaction to the song is irrational.  

I can not make the world accommodate me.  I can't force my work or radio stations not to play this song, and really why should I?  It's a good song.  If other people enjoy it who am I to bust in and interrupt them for enjoying themselves?  I'm not the dick punching buzz kill that seems to be on college campuses these days.   

Because I couldn't avoid this song I had to find a way to climate to it.  I chose to face this song, at one point I would have it in a 20 song playlist on shuffle, and while I'd do house work, it would randomly play.  At first it was rough.  Then it was less so, before "mildly unpleasant" is how I'd describe the experience.  

Triggers are real.  For people who've experienced real trauma there will be events, smells, sounds, or even completely non explainable triggers that will force them to relive the event(s).  For the most part though when people talk like this:

it's a load of bullshit.  They're not triggered.  They're feeling upset.  There's a massive difference between upset, and reliving the most terrible experience in your life.  Many who do have anxiety disorders or PTSD may not actually know their triggers thereby making "trigger warnings" completely useless, and worse, insulting.  You think we're these fragile balls of glass that will break at the slightest push?  Grow up.  

Here's what I want you to do, take your trigger warnings and shove em.  I want to be warned that something might be upsetting.  Let me live my life.  I don't want other's free inquiry to be stifled because bad things happened to me.  If anything I want people to have to be forced into self examination.  That's the only way we grow as human beings.  So please, enough with the bull shit coddling.