Childhood Dealing with a plethora of triggers, often unknown

Digz

MyPTSD Pro
Sometimes I find the amount of triggers I have in day to day life overwhelming and hard to deal with because my mind is so highly dissociative that knowing why I'm triggered can sometimes be impossible.
This week, I can tell by my physical symptoms and emotional state that I have been triggered, but I don't yet know by what or why. I very frequently find I experience emotional flashbacks like this from triggers and they can go on for a long time. Sometimes after some time feeling bad, I will get the other part of the flashback and will understand what has triggered it. But also a lot of the time I just never actually know what triggered my emotional flashback. My mind is very adept at hiding so much from me, even 15 years down the track in this progress, working out how long I've been feeling this bad before I even realised can be difficult.
Take today, for example. I realise now I have been feeling this bad most of the day and I must have been triggered at some point, but when I try to track backwards it's so difficult to pinpoint.
This is why, sometimes for me, even though I know it is good to get exposure to triggers, it is sometimes too much for me and has to be put on the backburner and avoided until I've made my way through other things first. In some ways I have to prioritise the triggers I know of to deal with them, because I have to be able to function in life as well, be an employee and a wife and a mother.
It's so frustrating sometimes. Yet, I'm also grateful that my dissociative brain has protected me and continues to protect me so I don't have to deal with over a decade's worth of torture at once, because I would not be capable of functioning at all if that was the case.

Anybody else get a lot of emotional flashbacks and/or have trouble knowing what has triggered them?
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
after decades of building awareness of my triggered state, i am only now gaining the ability to recognize the initial trigger and the recognition remains spotty and uncertain, at best. it seems like the harder i work at identifying the triggers, the more likely i am to self-gaslight and distract myself from addressing the psychoses which have been triggered.

personally, i like to take my exposure therapy in small, controlled doses. i don't deliberately expose myself to triggers until i am calm and stable with therapy backup, the backup can be either pro or peer, but backup is essential. my head is not a safe neighborhood to travel alone.
 

Renly

Confident
I’m working hard on identifying my triggers, but it’s hard and even if I do I often struggle to relate them to any meaningful memory networks. At times, I can tie my panic to a negative cognition and memory network…but more times I’m simply triggered…then working on calming down…and having to go back and think about it later….which many times I’d rather not and just avoid.

It sucks when I have absolutely no idea what in my environment even triggered me…and there are days it’s just one thing after the next.

I’m trying to be more mindful, but my brain is set to survival mode so changes are difficult. I’m working on taking notes in my phone when I’m triggered so I can be more aware and make connections when I’m calm, which has been beneficial.
 

StillPen

Confident
Yes, yes, and yes! I so relate to your experience and have done so since 2017-2018. One barage of trigger(s) after the other, with little to no backtrack-ability to determine what the initial trigger was or the memory it is tied to, just a flood of emotions and a flood of chemicals dumped into my body by my brain to numb the flooding...it makes me feel drunk. Litterally, it causes my toes and fingers to tingle and go numb. In a near complete dissociated state or completely switched state (I have DID), I try to write down what is going on even if it makes no sense, to talk through with my T later, when in a better state. Thoughts, noises, tones, aggressive behavior, you name it, the sound a closing door makes, the starting or stopping of a car's engine, they all trigger me into a fog of dissociation, a masterful mechanism that kills the emotional and physical pain (and arrousal), but does not work in the here and now, while trying trying to function, doing the most simple of everyday life tasks like washing laundry can be an imposibility. It is so exhausting and frustrating that my brain is trying to protect me by shutting down...I want to be better, do better, but am doing so at a snail's pace and on my brain's terms, not mine. I know with each episode, I have the opportunity to question the meaning behind the trigger I (my brain) has assigned to the event and thus remap a new neuro-pathway, establish a new meaning so tge next event is not so intense. I have to tell myself, add nauseam, that I am safe right here and right now (unless I am not of course). I don't know if any of this helps you, at the very least know that you are not alone in this journey. As I read your post, I felt as though I was writing it, or had done so already, it is that close to my own experience. Gentle hugs if you accept.
 

Vickster

Learning
Wow! Maybe this is what my "zoning out" is all about! My inability to get even basic tasks done, even getting some water to drink when thirsty. I just can't comprehend why I can't do it. (I will when I use the bathroom, but I'll even hold off on that). My mind works, but I can't persuade my body to move.

But that's also a tool I used to stay invisible in dangerous family settings. Moving meant dangerous people might notice me.

To some family members, I was "lazy". I've been trying my whole life (60yrs) to figure out how to motivate myself. I'll perform if someone else expects me to, but to do something for myself can be a whole other thing. My self-worth has increased this past year and I'm finally doing better, but maybe this explains a whole lot...

I think throughout my life, I have been having emotional flashbacks and not knowing what caused them. I never new about any of my abuse until I was 30- I had repressed it all. I don't have much in the way of visual memories. My process has been going into the emotions and sensing what the visual parts are, like who, where, etc. It makes me think of a criminal sketch artist, trying one nose/ no, try another, kind of thing. When the "icky" levels hit the red zone...Like building a picture with varying degrees of certainty. I am fine without ever really knowing anything with absolute certainty- I just focus on trying to feel better and survive another day. (And occasionally thrive, not just survive.)

Thank you for bringing this subject up and for everything people have posted on this subject. Y'all gave me a lot to think about.
 

Digz

MyPTSD Pro
Yes, yes, and yes! I so relate to your experience and have done so since 2017-2018. One barage of trigger(s) after the other, with little to no backtrack-ability to determine what the initial trigger was or the memory it is tied to, just a flood of emotions and a flood of chemicals dumped into my body by my brain to numb the flooding...it makes me feel drunk. Litterally, it causes my toes and fingers to tingle and go numb. In a near complete dissociated state or completely switched state (I have DID), I try to write down what is going on even if it makes no sense, to talk through with my T later, when in a better state. Thoughts, noises, tones, aggressive behavior, you name it, the sound a closing door makes, the starting or stopping of a car's engine, they all trigger me into a fog of dissociation, a masterful mechanism that kills the emotional and physical pain (and arrousal), but does not work in the here and now, while trying trying to function, doing the most simple of everyday life tasks like washing laundry can be an imposibility. It is so exhausting and frustrating that my brain is trying to protect me by shutting down...I want to be better, do better, but am doing so at a snail's pace and on my brain's terms, not mine. I know with each episode, I have the opportunity to question the meaning behind the trigger I (my brain) has assigned to the event and thus remap a new neuro-pathway, establish a new meaning so tge next event is not so intense. I have to tell myself, add nauseam, that I am safe right here and right now (unless I am not of course). I don't know if any of this helps you, at the very least know that you are not alone in this journey. As I read your post, I felt as though I was writing it, or had done so already, it is that close to my own experience. Gentle hugs if you accept.

That is really interested that it is so similar to your experience, as I too have DID.
Sometimes it's really frustrating and really hard to be patient with my brain. On the other hand I think that ability of my brain to distance itself has allowed me to achieve things in my life that I don't think I would've been able to if I felt it all.
There are times when it still takes me days to recognise that I've been triggered and turn inwards to work out what memory is looming that I don't know about.
My T said to me that DID was not madness or even illness but that it "represented an extraordinary and beautiful capacity of the psyche to protect itself," and that it was "healthy functioning rather than maladaptive."
That words have really stuck with me and when I am struggling with my brain I try to remember that.
 

Starfire

Confident
Sometimes I find the amount of triggers I have in day to day life overwhelming and hard to deal with because my mind is so highly dissociative that knowing why I'm triggered can sometimes be impossible.
This week, I can tell by my physical symptoms and emotional state that I have been triggered, but I don't yet know by what or why. I very frequently find I experience emotional flashbacks like this from triggers and they can go on for a long time. Sometimes after some time feeling bad, I will get the other part of the flashback and will understand what has triggered it. But also a lot of the time I just never actually know what triggered my emotional flashback. My mind is very adept at hiding so much from me, even 15 years down the track in this progress, working out how long I've been feeling this bad before I even realised can be difficult.
Take today, for example. I realise now I have been feeling this bad most of the day and I must have been triggered at some point, but when I try to track backwards it's so difficult to pinpoint.
This is why, sometimes for me, even though I know it is good to get exposure to triggers, it is sometimes too much for me and has to be put on the backburner and avoided until I've made my way through other things first. In some ways I have to prioritise the triggers I know of to deal with them, because I have to be able to function in life as well, be an employee and a wife and a mother.
It's so frustrating sometimes. Yet, I'm also grateful that my dissociative brain has protected me and continues to protect me so I don't have to deal with over a decade's worth of torture at once, because I would not be capable of functioning at all if that was the case.

Anybody else get a lot of emotional flashbacks and/or have trouble knowing what has triggered them?
Yes. I hated doing this but it did help. Keep a record for a period of time. Was having a hard time didn't know why. Wrote everything down for at least a week. As I said I hated it but it did show me some patterns when I looked back. Helped me anticipate the feelings following trigger. Who would have guessed oatmeal cookies were a trigger for me? But they were. I began feeling I had some control or at least knew what most likely was going to happen next.

Take care of yourself.
 

Muttly

MyPTSD Pro
It's taken time but I generally recognize my triggers now. It took a lot of therapy, journalling and communication with my parts (I have DID). Learning to communicate inside was really vital. Not that it's perfect for us now. Free writing was a big part of what we would do when triggered and not knowing why to see what would come up for us.
 

Digz

MyPTSD Pro
It's taken time but I generally recognize my triggers now. It took a lot of therapy, journalling and communication with my parts (I have DID). Learning to communicate inside was really vital. Not that it's perfect for us now. Free writing was a big part of what we would do when triggered and not knowing why to see what would come up for us.
That's great.
I too do a lot of writing. Writing is really the only way for me that I can really talk to the other parts and work out what's going on. With most of my parts I have a really good, caring relationship now. Although, in the last 12 months when I first became triggered again, I have been discovering new identities that I didn't know existed. I think that's really part of the problem for me at the moment - there's identities I don't know about and who aren't ready to talk yet, even with encouragement. It is sounding like there are a lot more identities in there than I ever thought, which makes sense when I think about the fact that my abuse was basically torture by both parents and further abuse by a grandparent and it spanned from birth through most of my childhood. But there is so much to tackle for me at the moment too, I have to just take it a bit at a time to remain functioning in everyday life as a mother and wife.
It is so nice having good relationships with the identities I know about though, it does make day to day life easier than when I think back over a decade ago, when we were all at odds and I was struggling to understand what was happening in my head.
 
likely i am to self-gaslight
This was a big part of my problem with identifying triggers.

Basically telling myself "no it can't be that reason. That is silly it doesn't even make sense that I'm triggered by that" 🤦‍♂️

I started by just asking myself "what if you are correct and this is triggering you? Is there any reason you can think of that this makes sense?" Most of the time if I'm honest with myself there is usually a clear reason I am triggered.

Also is it just this moment or is it a build up of 10 different things. I noticed sometimes with emotional triggers it's not just the one thing. It's 5 things stressing me out that week and then one more thing happens and all of it together makes me dissociate. It might be a "small" thing but that small thing mixed with a global pandemic, and stress at work, and not sleeping well, and needing to clean my room. All together is to much for my brain in the moment.
 

Digz

MyPTSD Pro
This was a big part of my problem with identifying triggers.

Basically telling myself "no it can't be that reason. That is silly it doesn't even make sense that I'm triggered by that" 🤦‍♂️

I started by just asking myself "what if you are correct and this is triggering you? Is there any reason you can think of that this makes sense?" Most of the time if I'm honest with myself there is usually a clear reason I am triggered.

Also is it just this moment or is it a build up of 10 different things. I noticed sometimes with emotional triggers it's not just the one thing. It's 5 things stressing me out that week and then one more thing happens and all of it together makes me dissociate. It might be a "small" thing but that small thing mixed with a global pandemic, and stress at work, and not sleeping well, and needing to clean my room. All together is to much for my brain in the moment.

I recognise that combination of things leading to having difficulty coping well. There are times when I am so stressed and triggered that even turning towards completing a simple household chore like loading the dishwasher will seem too much pressure to bare. If I try to do it anyway I will become seemingly irrationally angry and be fighting the massive feeling and thought that I want to throw the dishes across the room and scream, yet I know it's not 'irrational', it is a sign that there is too much happening for me to cope right now and I need to take it easy, not expect things of myself because I'm currently so far along the stress continuum there is literally nowhere left to go, my cup is full but not in a positive way, my cup is full of stress and even the slightest expectation will cause it to flow over.
It can be hard to admit that to myself in the moment, in the context of a busy life with responsibilities, but ultimately when I am honest with myself I realise there would be nothing gained if I persisted with the task because the overflow of stress would make the situation worse than when I started, like now having to sweep up broken glasses as well as having a dishwasher that needed unpacking!
 

StillPen

Confident
...

But that's also a tool I used to stay invisible in dangerous family settings. Moving meant dangerous people might notice me.

To some family members, I was "lazy". I've been trying my whole life (60yrs) to figure out how to motivate myself. I'll perform if someone else expects me to, but to do something for myself can be a whole other thing. My self-worth has increased this past year and I'm finally doing better, but maybe this explains a whole lot...

I think throughout my life, I have been having emotional flashbacks and not knowing what caused them. I never new about any of my abuse until I was 30- I had repressed it all. I don't have much in the way of visual memories. My process has been going into the emotions and sensing what the visual parts are, like who, where, etc. It makes me think of a criminal sketch artist, trying one nose/ no, try another, kind of thing. When the "icky" levels hit the red zone...Like building a picture with varying degrees of certainty. I am fine without ever really knowing anything with absolute certainty- I just focus on trying to feel better and survive another day. (And occasionally thrive, not just survive.)

Thank you for bringing this subject up and for everything people have posted on this subject. Y'all gave me a lot to think about.

That's great.
I too do a lot of writing. Writing is really the only way for me that I can really talk to the other parts and work out what's going on. With most of my parts I have a really good, caring relationship now. Although, in the last 12 months when I first became triggered again, I have been discovering new identities that I didn't know existed. I think that's really part of the problem for me at the moment - there's identities I don't know about and who aren't ready to talk yet, even with encouragement. It is sounding like there are a lot more identities in there than I ever thought, which makes sense when I think about the fact that my abuse was basically torture by both parents and further abuse by a grandparent and it spanned from birth through most of my childhood. But there is so much to tackle for me at the moment too, I have to just take it a bit at a time to remain functioning in everyday life as a mother and wife.
It is so nice having good relationships with the identities I know about though, it does make day to day life easier than when I think back over a decade ago, when we were all at odds and I was struggling to understand what was happening in my head.
I would be interested to know your experience in getting through every day life. I switch from triggers in every day life that bring my littles to the front...at work!,... rendering me non-functional at times (I've become near recluse as a result)...they don't want to be in front, nor do I want them to be as they are in a vulnerable state, but they don't know how to get back to the back, nor I know how to get back in front...and a lot of times I don't realize I l've switched untiil I'm back in front. Hope that made sense explaining my experience. Do you relate, and have any feedback on how you manage being in front and in the present until you are in a place to process triggers?
 
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