The word trigger isn’t something I heard often when I was first diving in and learning more about mental health. Now, it’s a slang term that people often use lightly, but sometimes is brought up in conversation to actually talk about a traumatic event. This morning, and many other mornings since the Harvey Weinstein case has come out, I’ve heard this word or phrase used fluidly in conversation.
So what is a trigger?
A trigger is something that sets off a memory tape or flashback transporting the person back to the event of her/his original trauma. Lately, this has been brought up in regards to many sexual assault cases but is also something that can relate to mental health issues including PTSD, anxiety, eating disorders, etc.
Knowing that an anecdote or story you share could potentially trigger someone and bring up traumatic memories is the first step to being aware and helping combat the potential issue. Just as you wouldn’t give away the plot to a new movie to a friend who hasn’t seen the movie, knowing your audience and warning people when you’re going to sharensomething that could affect someone in your group is the first step to helping.
Looking for other ways to help? Take a look at what someone dealing with triggers goes through on a daily basis to prepare themselves and take note when you’re out with a group and know that your words have consequences and could send someone spiraling into a place they fought so hard to get out.