Finding comfort in triggering media

  • Thread starter Felysha Spaulding
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Felysha Spaulding

So I’ve noticed these last few years that I tend to gravitate towards media that make me dissociate. Originally it was an odd fascination with the show 13 reasons why, I knew it was bad and I knew how bad it triggered me but I became almost obsessed with watching it and experiencing the same feelings. Then it was Doki Doki literature club, it made me feel so awful but I couldn’t stop watching, it got the point that for 4 months that’s all that YouTube would recommend to me. Now it’s Bo Burnham’s inside. Especially the scenes where he’s breaking down. I’ve watched the special 11 times since it’s released. I find an odd comfort in these things that make me feel so awful. I sit down and feel heaviness in my chest but I can’t stop watching. Has anyone else experienced anything like this?
 

barefoot

Sponsor
Yes, I do this. I started this thread thread on it last year, in case you’re interested in reading others’ thoughts there as well:

Thinking on it, I should probably revisit it myself seeing as I’m back to googling NXIVM every day again and found myself telling my partner the other day that I think I’ll be fine to watch Handmaid’s Tale now…

As for whether these things are a form of helpful and healthy exposure therapy, I think that probably depends. When I almost lost my mind with Handmaid’s Tale when season 1 first aired, I found myself quite fiercely insisting to my therapist that it was exposure therapy. She very patiently told me it wasn’t and that what I was actually doing is retraumatising myself. Afterwards, I came to realise that that was a fair point!
 

Friday

Moderator
J had a bad weekend and called into work Monday. I came home in the afternoon and what was he watching? Yep. A war movie. Oy vey!
I’ve been doing a lot of this, this month.

I have my suspicions as to why... in retrospect*... I’ve had some big things going on that wouldn’t be able to happen if I were f*cked up over them, but being f*cked up over the familiar? It may hurt more, but still lets me do my thing. With where my head is at, anyway. It goes the other way, just as easily.

I’m “usually” fine with SciFi & Historical (unless someone shouts contact contact contact or gas gas gas). Which almost never happens. Thank f*ck. But “usually” goes out the window, if I’m doing badly. If I’m doing badly all kinds of everything sets me off.

* It wasn’t a conscious thing, this month. It WAS a conscious thing to use all my emergency meds in a week to bust some ass. This whole riling myself up in one area, so another area is manageable? I’m all worked up about this thing over here, so this other thing is ‘Pfft. DGAF.’ I catch myself doing it, but rarely plan on it. Borrowing from Peter to pay Paul.
 
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LuckiLee

MyPTSD Pro
J and I both have the day off today. When I woke up and went to the living room what is J watching? Blackhawk Down. 😲

He is talking with me about his experience then. His brothers. People he lost. What he carried in his backpack and why. It was supposed to be a half day mission...

He has tears in his eyes.

He finally changed the channel.
 

Freddyt

MyPTSD Pro
Are we just replacing the anxiety we loose through therapy with anxiety from a different source?

The stress and anxiety are something that feels normal after you live with them long enough. so when you don't "have enough" you find a way to make more, keep the adrenaline pumping?
 

Skywatcher

MyPTSD Pro
I do this too. I even watched an entire movie where a young woman confronts her sexual abuser and sees that he now lives with a single mom that has a young daughter. It is so twisted, yet I could understand the conflicted feelings that the young woman had. 13 reasons kind of froze me. I watched another rape movie where it was different enough it didn’t affect me. SVU feels empowering. There was a real life movie on Netflix about a serial rapist. I froze in the opening scene and called for my husband to turn it off because I couldn’t move. Feelings from csa and adult rape can be so confusing to understand. Especially, when you were groomed to enjoy it. It f*cks up your entire understanding of healthy sexual experiences and trauma free people don’t understand it. Some documentaries, books and movies do, and you receive some sort of comfort or validation for the brain and emotions that haunt you.
 

enough

MyPTSD Pro
It is a weird thing. I can sit through the worst of the scenes about wrecks and fires and emergency first aid and ER, but sitting cold in a classroom looking at post mortems will make me fidgit and bite my lip. The same scenes in real life were never a problem or at least I didn't think so.
Adrenalin makes the difference.
Watching a movie where I can get up and go to the restroom or hit pause or answer a phone has very little correlation to things I have seen and wish hadn't happened. I am inclined to think there is none, in fact. I like movies in general and true stories in particular and the ones that get made and aired usually involve human tragedy of some kind.
Still, it's a weird thing
 

katz

MyPTSD Pro
I find that by watching it - or listening to something that reminds me of a an instance - makes me not only remember, but it helps me to face it head on. It also lets me take notice of how I'm feeling and then I try to figure out why or what caused these feelings.

Sometimes I can figure it out - then it doesn't bother me anymore. Kind of like finding an explanation. ("oh, that's why I don't like the color yellow").
However, there are times when I can't find what it is... But it also forces me to feel. Even if it is sadness or just being scared. For myself, it is just like mourning. And I know that their are lots more tears buried inside me.

I have found that by mourning over and over for the same thing, has lessened the pain I feel. That "incident" will never leave my memories, but it also doesn't have the strength it used to have. The thought or reminder of it comes up, but then I can just notice it and move on.

I will admit that sometimes I go back "there" and find more memories to think about and mourn. Things that I didn't remember before, but I know that it will help me in the long run to just cry about them and let my feelings out.
 

Skylynx

Learning
I'm relieved to know I'm not the only one who self triggers. I had a terrible infancy while i was pre-verbal ( didn't have words for the abuse and neglect) but what helps me to connect with me and understand my trauma is to watch YouTube about how monkey moms wean their babies. It's brutal discipline! It's all out there to see in such an emotional way. Monkey moms can be so mean. I feel such sympathy for the babies, and then for me. By watching it I know what I went through and can tell my T more about my experience. I hope this is good for me. Not sure, but I need to watch it somehow.
 

katz

MyPTSD Pro
I'm relieved to know I'm not the only one who self triggers. I had a terrible infancy while i was pre-verbal ( didn't have words for the abuse and neglect) but what helps me to connect with me and understand my trauma is to watch YouTube about how monkey moms wean their babies. It's brutal discipline! It's all out there to see in such an emotional way. Monkey moms can be so mean. I feel such sympathy for the babies, and then for me. By watching it I know what I went through and can tell my T more about my experience. I hope this is good for me. Not sure, but I need to watch it somehow.
A lot of my "times" were when I was very young too.
I can remember going down to the school office to ask for my "mommy" because I was having a "tummy ache". It took me many years to learn that those kind of feelings and descriptions are very common for children when they hurt emotionally. The emotion needs a way to make itself known - because there is no word in the child vocabulary at that age, that will describe what it is that they are feeling. So, they just say "my tummy hurts." Hoping that they can get the comfort they need/want. Often I didn't. It took so long for her to get to the school to help me - the tummy ache was gone. So, she just got angry at me when she picked me up to go home -again.
 

shimmerz

MyPTSD Pro
So I’ve noticed these last few years that I tend to gravitate towards media that make me dissociate. Originally it was an odd fascination with the show 13 reasons why, I knew it was bad and I knew how bad it triggered me but I became almost obsessed with watching it and experiencing the same feelings. Then it was Doki Doki literature club, it made me feel so awful but I couldn’t stop watching, it got the point that for 4 months that’s all that YouTube would recommend to me. Now it’s Bo Burnham’s inside. Especially the scenes where he’s breaking down. I’ve watched the special 11 times since it’s released. I find an odd comfort in these things that make me feel so awful. I sit down and feel heaviness in my chest but I can’t stop watching. Has anyone else experienced anything like this?
So what are your thoughts on this for yourself? Is it a good thing for you to keep yourself triggered up?
 

Illy-Ink

New Here
I've been doing something slightly similar in terms of getting obsessed with TV shows that have characters dealing with shutting down, being immobile and unresponsive or feeling nothing or being detached, but I can't cope with it if there is no hope for growth in the storyline. I wonder... have you tried watching stories that start with trauma and get better? is that the same? or maybe it doesn't appeal...

I've been thinking it feels like I 'need' to watch these stories like a baby needs recognition, responsiveness and safety. So there is a bit of validation going on but also I feel like I'm 'researching' how to get out of it in a way, seeing the pain in a context of someone's life (imaginary), a characters responses to people, events and environments, is useful in addition to more dry and clinical descriptions of what is going on from a medical perspective.

For some reason anime seems really good at describing trauma feelings from the inside out, wordless energies in light and sound and body language. And it almost never labels anything in mental health terms I am used to hearing, it's all about simply feeling the deep and intense feelings, and responding to people and life, learning to be in the moment and connected. I find it helpful to have the story resonate with things inside me that are hard to feel, cry a bunch and then I go write a tonne of stuff about it. Usually when I come back to watch it the charged feeling is gone as a result, or I haven't yet got at the nub of what is hurting me.
 
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