A trigger. A little metal piece on a gun for emitting bullets. Not the bullets in lists. The other kind. Trigger warnings tell you when you might want to kill yourself. They are topical. Certain topics are more deadly: suicide, abuse. Topics. The effect is that you will have sad memories or relive experiences (and attempt suicide?), and that this warning will save you from going through that.
Men and boys are a big trigger for me. When I see men or boys acting with privilege, cruelty or impunity, especially if there are no consequences, I go ballistic (another weapon-related metaphor). The thought of a woman raising a boy child is upsetting to me: they are giving aid and comfort to the enemy, which is treason. Bad memories are ignited, and my mind becomes a perpetual motion machine. Anger. Hurt. Determination. Fight to beat, overcome. Pictures in my head. Pictures of a nearly all-male governmental body are just as upsetting as actual violence. I don’t run for a trigger. I watch the perpetual motion machine in my head. I think of unfairness and pain and all the women and girls who will never get to fight back like I did. I can’t stop thinking. I can’t think. I get angrier and angrier, with hurt hurt hurt.
It’s not abuse per se that triggers me, but men and boys do. Suicide doesn’t trigger me. Hearing about horrible events doesn’t trigger me. To be triggered is either to be so upset that you pull the trigger, or so upset that a chain of painful events in your head begins, and you can’t stop it by force of will. Triggers are not obvious, general, large-scale topics (necessarily) like abuse and suicide. My triggers include parents (mine or others’), The Horrible Synod, FGM (so triggering I cannot even write it out), bullying. It’s not like you can just avoid those topics in life, or, on the contrary, like you fall to pieces every time they come up. Triggering is not just having a sad memory. It is having your brain invaded by an unbearable enemy who won’t leave.
When the enemy won’t leave … well, there is great noise, and you can’t tell what your thoughts are, and what are its. I hope that I can just wait it out until I am exhausted and fall asleep. I try meditation, sometimes medication, computer games. Rocking back and forth, which only crazy people do, actually helps. If it lasts for weeks or months, then it actually becomes a real-life trigger issue. Some burn or cut, because that does effectively make it stop. But I know my triggers. If FGM discussions come on, I change the channel. If a rapist gets 6 months in jail, I stay off Facebook. If you want to talk about your parents, maybe I’m not the one to talk to. Identifying triggers with sweet little warnings about suicide, when the mere existence of men triggers me, is not really going to save my life here.