Hello, my name is Johanna, and I welcome you to the Johanna Draconis - The Deconstruction Of C-PTSD podcast.
In this episode I will talk about trigger - this time we go over how we can remove them with the first two steps - the rest comes next week.
The hunt and removal of triggers is integral to the healing process.
I just want to remind you to NOT do this unless you are stable. Your waters need to be calm, as you WILL take a hit.
You will take a small dip after this and need a few days break after it.
This is going to take a lot of energy, so REALLY make sure you are stable enough.
So for a short summary, what do we do?
First we ensure we have enough energy and are in a save enough environment.
Secondly I recommend working yourself up from a small trigger to a big one. But if you are not used to it, the small ones are hard to find, as they don’t cause such a strong reaction.
But the big ones are hard to handle, as much as they are easy to find, they also cause the biggest havoc and you also get the other triggers usually. So… it depends?.
Pick a target that you think you can manage. With time you will be able to spot them easily. And then move from there.
Thirdly we follow the triggers trail and push right into the heart of it. This is really kind of a rabbit hole and not always easy to navigate, but I will try to do my best to give pointers.
Fourthly we resolve the core of that trigger… and this way remove it. I assume this is the step most people have issues with. That’s why I want to do this step with several examples.
And final step is to make sure the trigger is truly gone and not just dormant. This is the most common mistake people make: Thinking the PTSD or trigger is gone, but its just dormant.
Which then leads for it to return in full swing weeks, months, years or decades later. While quietly leeching of energy.
The problem with most triggers are, that they are invisible… similar to a hidden trap… until you stepped into it, then its too late… and unlike a real trap you can’t figure a way out of it.
The trigger is invisible, a non visible enemy, so our fight or flight response… just makes us freeze or have a reaction, may it be an emotional outburst or something else.
Your body basically tries to fight a tiger that isn’t there and so the body doesn’t know what to do with this energy.
How to spot a trigger
But how do I find triggers? I mean its easy to know when you are triggered strongly, but what exactly was it? It can take hours until the trigger response goes into full triggered mode.
You watched a movie and don’t know what exactly did it? You keep reacting but have no clue what did it?
It is actually pretty hard to find them. The most simple instruction is: Go where it hurts.
But since that is hardly enough, I decided to make the next episode about just that. Most likely titled: How to hunt down triggers.
As you usually have already a few triggers at hand and know pretty well about them, but just not yet how to remove them, I thought it’s best to clear that up first.
And once you got those and have gotten the taste of it, you will want to know how to find the rest.
Start it - Find the memory - Step 1
But first let’s clear how to remove them, once you found them.
First make sure the memory is what is causing the trigger. Yes one memory or moment. Most likely one sentence is what is causing the problem. The sentence you thought or said in that moment is that key.
You need to know it, as it is basically the position of the trigger. Its hiding spot. Sort of the secret entrance to the enemies secret base. You will get a response when you hear the sentence/the trigger.
You have to watch yourself just very careful for that. Try a bit around until you find it.
Some examples are:
The song that played during the car crash as the core trigger for what you saw during the crash.
The sentence “you will never make it” summarizing the yearlong emotional abuse of a parent or another authority figure.
The smell of your yearlong abuser, may it be the aftershave, sweat, fast food or other things.
The sound of the Taps played at the soldiers funeral to summarize the loss.
And so on.
It must have a direct connection, but not necessarily a logical one. Your brain made that connection. No matter how illogical it seems, but that is the connection that is there.
The most famous trigger I heard of from American veterans are the fireworks at July 4th, this most likely connected to the sound of explosives used during combat.
But the same rule applies here: The fireworks aren’t connected to ANY explosion, but to a specific one. One moment that summarized everything or symbolized everything.
Your brain hears the fireworks and remembers that moment.
And then everything just flushes over you… or later.
There are many ways to try to locate the memory, but that I will go over in a later episode, but for now we move on.
Step 2 - Facts are not important - emotions are
The second step is to find the real problem with the memory. Because facts don’t really matter. A trigger is an emotional response, it doesn’t follow the rules of logic.
As said before, it’s emotional. The trauma and the trigger both.
That someone died, even if it’s your friend, that is also a fact, as cruel that may sound.
You can’t change anything about facts, but you can change how you feel about them.
Usually what is really triggering are the emotions and feelings that were involved in that moment. Or that sentence or thought you had in connection to it.
But Facts CAN help us, they help us identify the situation and what was all involved. As our brain has sometimes the tendency in strong emotional moments to remember things… differently.
This will remain relevant.
An example for it is loosing something. The problem isn’t what you lost, but why you can’t let it go. Why do you feel you can’t let it go?
Another example is darkness. The problem isn’t the darkness. The problem what you fear HIDES in the darkness. So the trigger is what you fear that hides in the darkness and not the darkness.
And so on.
I just want to say, that I have to keep things incredibly broad. This is so that most people can use it, but it is not as helpful for a specific case.
I can help better if I know more details or if its about more specific cases.
I just try to grab as much of it as I can, to reach as many as possible. I plan to go into the different types of abuse, situations, etc. Later on, to give more specific help.
But it is still better if I get question or a specific scenario.
And that is where I have to split it. I am sorry, but this episode got way too long and I am in no position to make an episode that long at the moment, nor to be honest would I have otherwise.
I just completely underestimated how long this episode would end up being, I mean I could have cut examples and shorten it, but I felt like that wouldn’t have sufficed. So I rather split it.
This episode turning into the longest and that is not really a good thing. And then there is the the move of last week, which was chaotic, if you put it mildly.
I ended up having to do 2 moves at the same time. Which was extremely exhausting and took a few of my days. It’s all a looong story.
My autism is killing me at the moment. New surroundings, new routine, no familiar person around, a lot I have to decide and I have to set up my flat on the side too.
It is manageable and it will be no big deal relatively soon, but autism REALLY doesn’t like moving. Or change at all to be fair. But we get there. I am sorry for the inconveniences along the way.
That was it for todays episode. I hope it helped you, if not, please tell me so. Next week we are going to tackle the remaining steps to remove these triggers.
Despite this being just part 1, I hope you still liked it, you find the transcript and more information as usually under johannadraconis.com/podcast, links are also in the description and I hope I see you next time.
Watch yourselves and have a wonderful time.