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Triggers

Triggers are sights, sounds, actions, people, situations, songs that trigger an emotional response. They may produce uncomfortable emotional or psychiatric symptoms, such as anxiety, panic, discouragement, despair, or negative self-talk.

Fireworks can trigger PTSD. A lighter can trigger craving for those who are or were addicted. Chronic illness can trigger anxiety and so on.

Grief triggers are reminders of the one I lost.

In my case, that’s a tow-headed, white blonde three-year-old boy at the beach or a curly headed, tall skinny teenager playing lousy basketball. I see it and I stop, stare, and watch the movie in my head.

There are songs that trigger my tears and make my heart hurt. And seasons like the holidays which trigger grief depression that renders me catatonic and unmotivated. Events can remind me me of the depth of Charles’ kindness to others and still others are unwelcome reminders of when things were pure chaos in our household. Days when I curled up into a ball and wanted to move to Peru and live in a cave until that shit storm blew over.

Sometimes those triggers feel like land mines.  I have learned not to dodge them but to expose myself to them repeatedly so they lose their power to bring me down. Some triggers initiate a tender moment instead of despair. It’s only now that certain pictures of Charles make me smile instead of taking me to my knees.

Don’t get me wrong I still have those moments, those days, and those seasons where triggers are all negative. But three years after Charles’ suicide, I am finding that I can savor some memories without sadness. Not all the time but a lot of the time.

This is progress. At least I think so.

Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am an emotionally naked TEDx speaker, and author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk. I raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost my younger son, Charles to substance use disorder and suicide on June 5, 2015. I help people foster a culture of connection to prevent suicide, reduce substance misuse and find life after loss. My motivational, training and workshop topics include suicide prevention, addiction, mental illness, coping strategies/resilience, and grief. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory. Professional Speaker Website. Trained in ASIST and trainer for the evidence-based 4-hour training for everyone called safeTALK.

7 thoughts on “Triggers”

  1. There is progress. Good way to put it. It can still can hit like nothing else. 3rd deathday is coming Sept. 16. I’m not sure how this one will play out. That’s my play golf day. I’ll let ya know.

  2. I cannot imagine how you feel when you see the reminders, but my heart hurts reading this. Life is so cruel and unfair a lot of the time. I am sorry you lost him. You are doing good work by writing and sharing. If you save just one life, you have truly accomplished something big. It will connect with others and the chain will not be broken. Thank you and God bless you.

    1. I know life isn’t fair. I do tell others not to stand near me in a storm. But that’s just the way it is and all I can do is roll with the punches. At least I was loved growing up. For that I am very thankful.

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