23rd November 2017
So today I was excited to meet a friend in the morning, but I woke up to a message from them saying they could no longer make it.
I saw him write an upsetting post on a mental health forum we both use.
In both cases, they triggered me. I have anxiety and depression, and although this isn’t the only explanation for how I felt, I was triggered to feel a certain way, and it was horrible. I hate plans being changed, especially ones I really look forward to. For some reason I ended up very quickly becoming angry at my friend, and I didn’t know how to deal with it. I had no obvious reason to lash out at him, he did something that millions of others do all the time because plans do change. Our friendship is complicated and I ended up releasing a lot of anger and frustration on the mental health forum and in emails to him which I realised I had been internalising for a long time.
But it was also then that I realised that our minds can become irrational and clouded when we feel a certain way, especially when we’re triggered by something. I knew that with hindsight I’d feel a lot differently. I’d have the same concerns, worries and emotions, but I’d deal with them in a different, more positive way. I’d probably process them alone, or speak to him about it (well probably not.. I’m not good at opening up). But knowing this made no difference at the time – I was extremely emotional about a lot of things and I felt as though nothing could help me.
At the time I did have a fleeting moment about a book I brought yesterday, from Waterstones. It’s called “A practical guide to CBT”, and is a very simple and easy to read book which encourages you to think about the impact of your thoughts and feelings on your behaviours.
I read about how an activating event influences how we think and feel about the situation, and then how we respond to it. I knew that my heightened emotion influenced my rash and emotional behaviour when I messaged my friend, and the line of thought ended up triggering a spiral of self-deprecating thoughts that brought me down and still are bringing me down. But I knew that by picking up a self-help book, I was encouraged to think about that, even if only for a fleeting moment.
But now a few hours later, I can’t stop myself from crying. As I’m typing, I feel like hell, and I’ve just been so triggered today. There is so much content out there, like the book I mentioned, that encourages us to improve our lives and look after our wellbeing, but in reality accomplishing this can be so difficult and it certainly is for me today. I don’t want to appear negative in any way, I simply want to express the harsh realities of the black dog, and even just human emotion. I’m so up and down at the moment. Sometimes I feel like I’m fine and I can accept things that I find upsetting, and then a few hours later I see something or my friend says something that makes me end up feeling the complete opposite and I feel like I can’t cope. Today has made me realise how, when we don’t confront and process the reality of how we feel, it will eventually bubble up and pour out of us, like an overflowing glass of water.
Now that I’ve got past the frantic crying and sobbing, I feel drained, and reminded of how alone I feel when things are this bad. It’s hard, when you don’t have the words. I am able to talk about this in a general sense but I haven’t spoken about the detail of what’s causing me hurt, and that’s because I just don’t know where to begin and how to explain it all. I suppose, if anything, this is a learning curve for me, in terms of how I deal with upsetting situations, and the fact that despite having those people who could be there for you, if you don’t have anybody physically present to comfort you and you don’t have the words to explain..it’s a very lonely place.
We all experience difficult triggers that make us feel low, sad, anxious, and stressed. But it’s worth thinking about how we can manage that better to take care of ourselves, even if it only makes things slightly easier.
It’s good that you’re becoming aware of your triggers. Change is very difficult. I read somewhere that it’s like changing direction on an ocean liner: you turn the steering wheel down all the way, and twenty minutes it moves very slightly to the right.
Good luck with the CBT book!
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