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Idiosyncratic triggers

Rose White

This morning I was driving to work and saw someone riding a ten-speed bike which triggers hypervigilance in me and I was wondering what other people’s personal triggers might be, especially ones that others might be surprised by unless they knew your story.

Previous triggers which I have overcome were:
Making a sandwich
Taking a nap
Bluegrass music
The things I lose my ever lovin mind over the most, around others, are stressors rather than triggers.

Top of the list, living with people?

- LIGHTS. OMFG. LIGHTS. Living in the dark makes my teeth itch. Worse? Broadcasting your/my/anyone’s exact location in the house by flashing on lights as you enter a room, and then plunging it into darkness as you leave.

- Don’t move my stuff around. Just. Don’t. Ever. It’s not something that will make me grateful; It makes me want to throttle people. I NEED to know where all my things are, at all times.

- Drinking Water… unless I’m sick, or seriously dehydrated… drinking water makes me nauseated to violently ill.

- Cold Damp
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Vacuum cleaners have probably been the worst ‘weird’ trigger for me. Especially since I have carpeted flooring and my job involves vacuuming cars almost daily. Had to get over that one fairly quickly. Situational exposure therapy. But when I’m in a fragile place, still takes a bit of self reassurance.

Other rather normal items, vegetable peelers (not the Y type, the other ones), but that’s simple, just don’t own one! Face cloths/wash cloths, like urgh! Make me shudder. Again, I just don’t use them.
looking for stuff in the dark with a flashlight. Better find it fast because I am about five minutes from just throwing it in the bushes and saying to hell with it.
And drunk drivers, to the unreasonable level of being suspect of anyone that shows a glimpse of a possibility of being impaired. If everyone thought like I do, I would get pulled over every time I get lost in a strange place or slowed down to be sure this was my exit or drove more than a few blinks after signaling for a turn, I do that stuff, but cant even begin to tolerate it if given the choice of just pulling over and letting my suspect get way ahead of me.
Styrofoam, matches, cleaning chemicals, firecrackers, thunder, bugs, dogs, children and babies, being a passenger in a vehicle, the police, permanent markers, knives, pliers, toothpicks, nails, mag-lites/big flashlights... rebar, milk crates, nail files, hammers, showers, the rain, COVID masks (had to get over those), Smitty's and Steak & Stein restaurants, some hotels around here, some neighborhoods here/how the houses look, etc etc etc.

I mean some of this is super obvious and not weird at all when put in a list like this if you know me. But for day-to-day life it has looked very odd being afraid of a milk crate or styrofoam cup! Tbh, I think PTSD triggers are automatically idiosyncratic in that it's the defining feature of the disorder: what is benign, and this is individual/random, becomes a threat.

Guns trigger the f*ck out of me - that isn't idiosyncratic. If I told someone "I was in an armed group as a kid and now have PTSD" they would probably assume, without ever being told, that guns are a problem for me. But someone pointing a gun at me? Didn't trigger me. I stayed very calm and talked him through what would happen as a result. I did what he wanted and he ran off.

It was a trauma in the grand sense of the word but it still doesn't impact me that much. Launched my PTSD from other issues, but not that one. So that is idiosyncratic as well - what doesn't trigger me is equally as random.
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I think the part where they become part of …identity? / idiosyncratic?… IE it’s just “us being us” is when WE don’t mind them enough to work on them, and instead just structure our lives around casual avoidance.

That’s why I reverted to the “if you live with me, you’ll probably be annoyed BY” <whistling> rather than the ones that annoy ME the most, so I set about changing them / removing them from my life. Pronto. Soonest. Imshi. Andale.
rather than the ones that annoy ME the most, so I set about changing them

The ones I set about changing most significantly are the ones that made it impossible to function in our shared human reality. Being afraid of the rain? OK, I will never leave me house again, since I am in Nova Scotia. Heh. I "fixed"/changed that one up by forcing myself under the shower every day at 16-17 while my mom was hospitalized (perfect time to work on my brain-melting "oh god! oh god!" trigger) until it stopped making me flinch.

COVID masks, that one I got over (not successfully, but "get over it" in the "just do it" sense) because it's about safety and wellbeing of others at that point. I could've gotten a "medical exemption" but such an exemption is really not applicable to me - I am physically able to wear a mask, it just causes mental suffering. So I just walked around in my house wearing a mask until my brain calmed down enough that I could do it in public without launching into the stratosphere.

Oh, another one in that vein: clinking dishes. People doing the Mother f*cking Dishes. Stahpppp! I would legit yell at my mom for it, I still cannot actually do dishes on my own. When I lived by myself I used... you guessed it... plastic plates and Solo cups! I'd fill up a big garbage bag of them, or make wraps on a cutting board and eat those. I ate so. many. wraps. Gahd. Dishes. f*ck me. I got over it enough to stop yelling at people for doing basic chores, though.

Others are just too difficult/painful to really figure out. The showers/rain stuff? I sort of got back, but I still can't wash my hair or put my head under water. So YMMV, really. I suspect that's probably random, as well.
Some of my worst are kind of like yep, I get that. Like should I happen to have any sort of bleeding down there. That’s sort of mostly explanatory and doesn’t take a lot of guesswork.

Then there’s all the odd ones, a particular coloured flooring that sends me absolutely batshit loopy, an unfortunately very popular aftershave (which I’ve gotten over, due to sheer pig headedness and teeth gritting) - although when mixed with other smells will definitely cause me to grind off what’s left of my back teeth, vacuum cleaners, people pleasers, a particular holiday, baths, doctors and grey range rovers are just a few of my triggers that tend to cause raised eyebrows.
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Oh, another one in that vein: clinking dishes.
Ha! Been there.

Worked through it accidentally/on purpose (chefs are known to throw shit &/or storm out over ridiculous bullshit, so my bad behavior in the kitchen got totally written off for the years it took to DGAF… As I would cook when I was travelling and wanted legit money / restaurants all over the world have kitchens full of illegal immigrants paid in cash out the back… but there’s also a HUGE difference between kitchen noises (knives on cutting boards, and ceramic on metal as you slide a dish through the pass, and the hiss of steel over stone) and dishes/silverware clanging against themselves like. cymbals. in. my. brain. I still about lose my mind when people are putting away silverware. OMFG. STOP. JUST… Okay, self. Take your happy ass out for a damn walk. >.< It’s silverware. Not a call to rip someone’s throat out. Walkies. Going for walkies. Or sleep. We can do sleep. Or beating the hell out of a heavy bag. No gnawing on furniture. That’s just stupid. Sounds great, still stupid. Just… don’t.

In my home? I still prefer paper plates and wooden “plates” (I used to have something like 20 of these I picked up whilst road tripping for pennies on the dollar) & eating over the sink/ parchment paper/ out of the pan/ etc., as well as chopsticks & everything else fawking NOT CLANG CLANG CLANG bite me grrrr.

LOL… COME TO THINK OF IT?!?… my tea service; pretty (hedonist, me), but also my “I don’t drink water” & some of my sound issues. All in one.

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