Thursday, September 18, 2008

When "Triggers" Attack

Where there is the greatest understanding, the pain can also be very great. Like if a friend's parent dies…and you can understand better than anyone else, because you have a parent that died too. You have a bond with the friend, but at the same time, you are triggered into sad memories and your thinking can bring you down.


I think living with an eating disorder can be very similar.


When you're in a vulnerable state, you might think of removing yourself from things simply so you won't be triggered, but I ask you to think again. Sometimes being vulnerable and breaking down a bit is something that has to happen in order for us to move forward. It has to happen for us to get anywhere on a long-term basis.


And let's face it, a long-term solution is the one you're after. Short-term just isn't going to cut it where an eating disorder is concerned.


Removing yourself may seem possible, beneficial, and even necessary. It's very easy to do well when there is nothing triggering you. But it's only going to be a short-term solution—because the world is triggering. And that will never change…unless we can learn to deal with the triggering problems as they happen.


I remember when I was a member of an eating disorder therapy group a few years ago. It was very hard not to compare myself to the other girls and very hard to stay positive when there was so much negativity bouncing around all the time. BUT I kept going, and as the group became more bonded, we were able to see a lot more about each other and about ourselves…and the triggering nature of everything became less and less. We were able to work with it—the triggering aspects of a group of girls thrown together, constantly comparing themselves to each other—and move forward.


The potential to be triggered by what others say, do, and look like is a big one. It's so easy to over-analyze, to feel more insecure, to compare ourselves to others. It's prevalent and it's going to happen. It's the nature of the disease and of our society. An eating disorder thrives off of triggering moments and situations. Be aware of this. Be prepared for this. You'll be less apt to destroy yourself and more apt to survive.


And so, my whole point is: Don't be afraid of being triggered. Because it's going to happen. Sooner or later, frequently or infrequently. Life is about knowing what you want and being able to turn the bad around. And that takes time. The sooner we can learn to deal with what upsets us and sets us off, the better off we will be. That's a fact.


Magdalena said...

Thank you for sharing this. What you said here is something that I know deep down inside and, I think, hear all the time in my recovery program, and yet I needed to hear it from you before it made sense.
Reading your blog, I realized in how many ways I still am triggered and how often I run away/ avoid situations and generally revert to isolation and over-simplification to avoid these triggers. But what I am really doing is avoiding life. I am in a situation right now where this is beginning to snowball on me and I am noticing eating habits and thought processes returning. And here is what is amazing - my world/ fate / God (whatever you choose to call it) keeps on showing me the next step of furthering my growth. I know that I need to face my fears before I can let go of them. I know that also sometimes things have to get a bit worse before they get better. And that I am striving to be human not striving for perfection - and so I understand that my recovery is human - I can have "slips". So here it goes.

Arielle said...


Thanks so much for your comment. I understand just what you mean and I'm so glad the blog post hit home for you. Recovery IS human and it's a process--not a destination. So you're right on track if you have a goal for yourself and it just takes a while to reach it.

Thinking of you. I hope you will visit again.

Much love,