One of my biggest triggers with my anxiety and depression is becoming overwhelmed or being reminded of everything that I am not. Both of these are pretty common in my life. Being aware of these triggers in only the first step and they can easily influence each other.
Everything I Am Not: Past Relationship
I want first to discuss the reminders of everything I am not. A part of me is proud to have empathy, but it also causes issues in the sense that I can not be mad. I often feel guilty when I am upset with someone because I don’t think I have the right to be upset and I can usually understand the other person’s point of view. If you read any of my past writing, you know about the toxic relationship I was in for around four years. I think it might be influencing my current life more than it should which just makes me feel stupid. I feel hurt and often triggered by what happened in it still, even when I think I moved past it, but I also feel weak and guilty when this happens.
Let me explain. I think the guy I was in a relationship with is probably a good guy. Our personalities didn’t match and caused a toxic and emotionally abusive relationship. Sometimes I feel guilty for talking about it, because I still know his friends and family, and I don’t try to cause any issues or hurt. I don’t want to influence other people’s views of him. Maybe that’s ridiculous of me, but it’s something that I don’t think I can change. But last night, something happened in my current relationship that made me fully understand the type of influence it still has no matter how much I hate it. It’s also this strange dilemma in that I don’t want to blame another person for my current actions. It seems like a cop-out. I want to take responsibility for my actions, but sometimes when something “triggers” me I cannot always help it.
My partner and I were getting ready to cook dinner. It was just going to be pasta and broccoli. I don’t like my broccoli boiled so I was seeing if we could cook it a different way. My partner responded by asking me questions why I felt that way and other options, and I had a “fit.” I became frustrated and embarrassed. You see, in my past relationship, I wasn’t really allowed to cook. I was not good at it. Every time I tried cooking with him, it often turned into a fight where I couldn’t do anything right. Cooking was tense and stressing. When I tried cooking, I often felt inadequate and stupid. So when I talked about broccoli and my current partner “questioning’ it, I was triggered. I was right back there when I felt stupid and never enough.
Writing about this now, I can feel how silly that might sound. Getting offended about broccoli. When I think about it, I have to admit, I kind of hate myself. But in my past relationship, I was often made to feel not good enough. That I couldn’t do anything right. That everything I did was wrong or stupid. I wasn’t allowed to get angry. I was walking on egg-shells. I still hear the insults. I remember the holes in the walls and the empty threats. But what if I’m exaggerating? What if I don’t remember correctly? What if some shitty stuff happened, but it’s not as bad as I am saying. I am a sensitive person. So maybe I’m overreacting. So what if I’m doing this to myself? What if all triggers that happen is because of something that I made up?
I almost see this as a type of symptom because of what happened. I learned not to trust my feelings. I learned to push my instincts to the side. I believed I was crazy. So what if what I’m feeling is wrong now? How do I ever know what I’m feeling is legitimate? What makes a feeling legitimate?
By reading this article, you may be able to tell all the ways my mind gets scrambled. How one trigger can bring on many different feelings that I don’t always know how to process. It becomes overwhelming and frustrating, and I often want to run and hide.
Becoming Overwhelmed: Physical Surroundings
Emotions can overwhelm me, as well as physical surroundings, which is the last trigger I want to talk about right now. I remember one night when I was playing a board game with friends during a get-together at a friend’s house. We were playing near the stereo, which was playing, with people surrounding us talking, and then people becoming upset during the game. I had people playfully teasing me about the game. I just couldn’t do it. There was too much stimulation. I was overwhelmed by everything that was happening around me, that my anxiety went through the roof. I had to retreat to a bedroom for a bit just to recuperate.
Of course, before I retreated to the bedroom, I was irritable. I was a little rude. I couldn’t help it. Okay, I probably could. When it first started happening, I didn’t recognize my irritability as anxiety. I can’t always tell at first when something is anxiety or if it’s just a bad mood. If I don’t recognize it as anxiety, I can’t always control it, because I don’t do anything about what’s causing it.
Sometimes I can notice my triggers. Sometimes I get lost in it. Occasionally I can tell when my anxiety is acting up, other times; it hits me by surprise. Sometimes I see triggers as an excuse. Or maybe I may think that just because that’s what others tell me they are. By questioning my triggers, it becomes an awful cycle of only creating more anxiety. I may even intentionally ignore my anxiety because I don’t want something so small to trigger it, which only magnifies it in the long run.
I wish my anxiety were simple. I wish I could quickly pinpoint everything causing me it and simple guidelines into battling it. But the way it manifests and what helps is in constant rotation. The answers behind it aren’t always black and white. The way I respond due to my anxiety isn’t always easy to explain or be okay with.
So yeah, I know some of the basics of what causes me anxiety; being overwhelmed and not feeling like enough. I wish that’s all it took. But it’s always more complicated than that. I think by starting to validating my feelings and anxieties, and knowing it’s okay to be angry at something, will help in treating my anxiety. I guess I will see how it goes.