Saturday, April 23, 2011

T is for Triggered

For those of us cursed with mental illnesses, it can be sometimes difficult to explain the inner workings of our minds to others. Even more so when you have a disorder that renders you unable to talk or communicate in any way once you are triggered. A trigger could be anything: a sight, a smell, a touch, a memory, etc. For those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or dissociative identity disorder (DID) a trigger causes more trauma and pain by rendering yourself helpless to stop what your mind subjects you to. Brief science here: in your brain, you have what is called the lymbic system. I do not claim to be an expert on this, but I have learned more about this "storage area" of the brain that I ever wanted to once I was diagnosed PTSD with DID.

Think of your brain as a filing cabinet. Something happens and the memory goes to be filed away in the cabinet. On a normal day, this is done quickly and with no problems. But if something that the mind perceives as traumatic occurred, the file becomes fractured and gets filed away wrongly. It doesn't even get filed together....some parts go here, some parts go there, and others over here. The brain does this to try to protect you from something it thinks you cannot handle at that moment. If the memory file is in slices and filed in different places, then it is harder to become triggered to the memory that caused the pain.

Yet the body adapts. As humans we have amazing regenerative powers, and none more astonishing than in our own brain. As we grow older, more mature, add more experiences to our lives--the likelihood of becoming triggered in some way increases. And happens. Something you saw brought a flashback to your mind. You are helpless as the flashback takes control and can do nothing until it is finished. Then you regain yourself once more.

In time, these disturbances become more frequent and more intrusive. It gradually gets to the point where you feel yourself sliding away into your own mind. You can hear what is being said to you, you can see most of what is around you, and yet you cannot respond. You no longer have control over yourself. No one else does either (which is why DID is not always a multiple personality disorder--with personality disorders those unfortunates DO have Someone Else take over...but that's a whole different discussion). Time passes, but you do not know how much. You can lose hours at a time, stuck inside your mind. You shout inside your head, but no one can hear you since you have no control over your mouth. You are fighting, fighting for control again. And again, you will have it. In time.

I write things such as this better in prose form. Here is my attempt to explain it from my own point of view:


Whirlpool pulling me under
Hand outstretched reaching for salvation
Going down
Into oblivion
A place I know well
A hell of my own making
Scenes play around me
Aware of what is surrounding me
Screaming but my mouth does not move
Pleading for rescue
Demanding to be released
Imprisoned by my own mind
Beating on the walls around me
Invisible yet unbreakable
Code phrase pulls me up
Out of the gloom
Different each time
Shaking stops
Twitching stops
Sound returns
Heart returns to normal beating
Breathing evens and calms
I open my Eyes
In Control once more


  1. That sounds absolutely drowning...may you never be alone when this happens to you.

  2. I get anxiety, so can relate. Nice bumping into you on this blogathon. :)

  3. What a terrifying ailment! To lose control and only know it will happen again. You have my sympathy. I'm so glad I found your blog. I'm stopping by from the A to Z challenge and I look forward to visiting again.