Triggers

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?

Screen Shot 2017-11-14 at 10.23.54 PMtrigger 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.

 

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Love Me Louder

There are days when you wake up early, make coffee, get ready, kill it at your day job, make it to the gym, come home, cook a homemade supper and have this whole adulting thing down. Other days your fiancé finds a white hair on your head, you question everything you’re doing throughout the day, bruise your tailbone at the gym & slice your finger open making zoodles. The latter of those two scenarios is absolutely me this week (and 100% true).

It’s these times, whether it lasts hours, days or weeks, that it’s important to know yourself and protect your mental state and reach out for help when you need it; this is a lesson that took me years to learn. I used to see it as a sign of weakness to ask for help. I didn’t mind when people asked me for help, in fact, I really liked it, but for me to reach out was nearly impossible. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I learned to ask my friends and family for help and I can admit that I’m a better person because of it.

Yesterday, a close friend of mine, reached out to tell me that she had been struggling with depression lately and was taking a step back from her busy lifestyle to focus on her mental health. Seeing that message come through made me so proud for her. She recognized that she was going through something that couldn’t be stifled and sought out the professional help that she needed as well as turning to friends and family to lean on. It’s not an easy decision to put your life on hold and open up to those around you but it’s one that will benefit you for years to come.

I slowly learned that it was okay to be transparent with the people who cared about me the most – and that no one was going to judge me if I asked their opinion on how to respond to a work problem or a cook a supper I had never made (yes, these were actual things I couldn’t bring myself to do for years) – because that’s how you get help. Sometimes that help is professional and sometimes it’s just a hug and someone telling you that you’re going to make it through.

Screen Shot 2017-11-08 at 9.47.25 PM.pngMy decision a couple of years ago to finally rely more on those around me also happened to coincide with my relationship with Adam. I’m not saying the two go hand-in-hand because, if you ask Adam, I’m stubborn as hell and it took me a long time to start asking for help, but having Adam, and the rest of my friends and family, helped. One of the things Adam and I talked about early on in our relationship was what our love language was (and yes, this was absolutely something I had to explain to him first). Laugh all you want, but I wanted to know how to best show my feelings to Adam in a way that would relate to him and also make him aware that my love language was words of affirmation…and lots of them.  About six months ago, I came across this image on Pinterest and sent it to Adam. It was everything that explained the way I often feel in such a small phrase. Sometimes, I get too into my own head and start making up realities that really aren’t there (hello, day job and every relationship ever). Of course, some days truly are bad and I need more help and support on those days, but some days I’m just in a funk for no reason and need someone to tell me that they love and I’ll figure it out.

It took me years to realize that there’s nothing wrong with reaching out for help, whether that be professional or just being transparent with those around you.

Some days, you need to be loved a little louder, and that’s perfectly okay.

The Power of Social Media

It seems lately that more and more people are standing up and speaking out against social media. I won’t disregard the fact that it can lead to negative things like bullying FOMO, & unreal expectations but we can’t overlook the fact that it can also give people a chance to connect, to voice their opinions & to even get help.

Here I have to be blatantly honest and say that I might have a bias toward this medium as I currently work in the world of social media, but I think we often neglect the fact that there is good that comes from these platforms, too.

Last year, Facebook rolled out a tool that allowed suicidal users to connect with a professional at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Now, Instagram (owned by Facebook) seems to be following a similar route. If a user notices a post that seems to nod to self-harm or suicidal thoughts, it can be reported to get that individual connected to a hotline or seek other ways to help. The platform has even taken things one step further by also blocking hashtags like #thinspo & #selfharm.

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In a world where teenagers are constantly connected and chatting, it’s refreshing to see that these tools are evolving and trying to help with other major needs many teenagers face: depression and suicidal thoughts.

Though social media isn’t perfect and it can lend its way to many negative things, it’s being used by millions of people across the world, and it’s reassuring to know that these platforms care about their users well-being and mental health.