Triggers are funny things. They can be very common, such as loud noises that resemble gunshots, or smells that remind a victim of their trauma. Some triggers can be identified and avoided, or at least prepared for. Others have a hard time avoiding their triggers, and all we can do is work on our coping skills when we encounter them.
My triggers are weird. Mainly because my trauma isn’t really all that traumatic. I’m not comparing apples to oranges though; everyone’s experiences are valid! My trauma is less of a trauma and more of a lack of coping skills. My triggers revolve around relationships, which is not ideal when you love people. In the past, my coping skills were almost nonexistent when it came to handling rejection, or perceived rejection. Now, its slightly better but it has taken lots of diligence and intentionality.
Clinically, ’emotional disorders’ in adults are labeled as personality disorders. I don’t qualify for one type specifically, but I do present behaviors that are included. Actively coping with them is really a new concept for me. Opening up about it is brand-spankin’-new. Spending three days in an inpatient facility makes you rethink things a little bit. Here is what I’ve found helpful for coping with some of my personal triggers.
Triggers: Rejection, or perceived rejection
Coping Skills: Seeking truth about my worth in God. Recognizing that I do have friends who care about me. Intentionally asking about the situation, only after I have calmed down.
Trigger: Disappointment, failed expectations
Coping Skills: Assess expectations verses standards. Remember that each person has their own life outside of you. Keeping expectations low. Letting go of assumptions made.
Trigger: Overwhelming situations (i.e. debt, medical situations, joblessness)
Coping Skills: Small steps toward resolving the issue; making one small payment on a loan or bill, setting up a payment plan, applying to a handful of jobs every day. Organize paperwork relating to the situation. Talk through your plan with a trusted person.
All of these things are completely normal situations that the typical population seemingly handle effortlessly from day to day. Do not feel badly if you cannot handle them effortlessly. You CAN handle them, but it takes us some effort. That’s okay, as long as we put in the effort! We can do it, but we don’t have to do it alone. I don’t want anyone to feel that they are alone in their situation(s). Here are some things that I do to cope with the anxiety and depression that the aforementioned triggers might cause.
Depression: I know how hard it is to pull yourself out of this slump. Please just try one of these, okay?
- Make yourself a really healthy meal; I’m talking salad greens, veggies, something with loads of omega-3. Make it tasty. Sit down at a table and enjoy each bite.
- Let yourself cry for a certain period of time, but then get up and do something you usually enjoy.
- Take vitamin D! Seriously.
- Talk to someone you trust about something outside your sadness.
- Read Bible verses that speak to God’s goodness and His love for you. I LOVE The Bible app.
Anxiety: Coexistent with depression, this prevents me from doing so many things!
- I have a playlist of guided meditations on YouTube. Some help me go to sleep, some just calm me down and help me focus on something other than spiraling.
- Go for a walk in the woods.
- Practice deep breathing. Look at this cool thing!
- Do one small thing to start the process of whatever task you’re anxious about. Nine out of ten times, if I get myself ready to go to the gym, just the act itself will motivate me beyond my anxiety.
- Letting God handle it. I pray “Lord, make me willing to be willing. This is Yours, not mine.”
I’ll be posting more on the faith-based things I do to manage my mental health, and this is not an exhaustive list by any means. Feel free to add your coping skills in the comments. I know coping is an active part of living with mental illnesses, and I’ll be right here alongside y’all exploring the ways that work best for me.