owlsoowlsofstarlight: perspective on how utterly random triggers can be.
Alice Clearwater

In case anyone wants some perspective on how utterly random triggers can be. I haven’t lived in a house with a garage door in four-ish years. Right now at this moment, I honestly can’t recall what they sound like, except something metallic moving and rather clanky.

There was one on tv. I wasn’t even paying attention to it, I had my headphones on and was actively trying to tune the show out. My ears picked up on the sound of the garage door, and a jolt of adrenaline shot through my body as I grabbed my laptop and moved to get out of my seat and run to my room.

I realized what happened after about two seconds.

The sound is gone from my ears, but my heart is still racing and I’m waiting for the door to the house to open, to hear the jingling of my mother’s keys and her footsteps moving through the house. My muscles are still tense and I’m fighting the urge to run to my room and stick a board in front of the door.

For years, the sound of a garage door was my warning to pack up what I was doing quickly and retreat to my room if I was out of it.

I can’t remember the sound of the garage door right now, but I can’t tell my brain to stop trying to react to it.

So, a thing that’s particularly important here: The trigger here is not the bad experience itself.

after my super funtime medical adventure, i had to change all my bath products, because my brain had associated the scent of them with being terrified and in extreme pain.

these were products i had chosen myself because i liked the smell. and they got connected to the medical phobia because i was using them to wash off the hospital reek and the fear sweat and so forth. i don’t know why they became a trigger. maybe because washing off the hospital smell didn’t make me not in pain. maybe because their ‘fresh pine ocean breeze bluegreen spicy stuff’ smell didn’t really replace the hospital stench, just mingled with it.

but for whatever reason, smelling these objectively nice soaps made me do flashbacks and get all hopeless and wobbly. so they had to go.

triggers are random. they’re often something that was simply present during a trauma, and you can’t guess what they’ll be. no one who hasn’t heard me explain this would ever associate suave naturals ocean breeze body wash with unbearable abdominal pain. so i guess the takeaways here are twofold:

if you have triggers, remember other people can’t predict them, and don’t expect to be protected from them all the time. that’s up to you.

if you don’t have triggers, don’t assume you can judge what a ‘real’ trigger is, and if someone asks you to accomodate them, don’t be a dick about it. even if you don’t want to make that accomodation, decline politely and apologize, don’t disparage their request.