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An Experience of Getting Triggered While Writing Something Triggering

It’s actually not during the writing process itself that I get triggered by some of the material I write. It’s afterwards. Days later. Some of my posts include the topics of suicide, rape, and sexual abuse. It’s a part of my past and I am not ashamed of it because none of it is my fault. Did you hear that? It’s not my fault that I am afflicted by clinical depression.

Things Get in the Way of Writing

Why do I write about triggering material? Because it’s important to me. I must say, it is rather difficult writing about these topics. Sometimes I will start writing an article and become so exhausted by the emotional process of writing, that after taking care of necessary evils such as having to feed myself, I take a nap. Why do I label eating as an evil? It’s because it is an activity of daily living and things like that get in the way of my writing. Yes, everything seems to get in the way: work, social activities, making food.

Some Coping Skills

What are some coping skills that I employ? As stated, I often take an afternoon nap on the weekends in between writing articles. I also take frequent breaks after several paragraphs. I get up, make some tea, use the restroom, or I simply look away and pet my therapy dog, Samuel. But what happens when I am triggered days later?

Making the Connection

Sometimes the reaction to having been triggered occurs days after exposure to the triggering material. When that happens I often have a hard time connecting the material from days before to things happening in the now. For example, the other day I felt suicidal. It kind of came on all of a sudden and it took me by surprise. I attributed this to that morning having seen an ad for a job posting. My thoughts went like this: I would like to apply for the job because it’s in the mental health field, but it’s part-time, which means I might have to get a second job, which means I would have to get private health insurance that might not be as good as the one I’ve got now, which means I might not be able to see my therapist and my psychiatrist as often as I would like, and would be horrible. “You felt suicidal because of a job posting you saw?” my therapist asked gently the next day. “I know it doesn’t make sense, but that’s what happened,” I replied. “That’s why I’m asking,” he said.

Experiencing Anger

“Maybe you’re angry at someone? Who are you angry with?” my therapist asked as we were discussing that suicide is anger turned inward. “You?” I asked. “That’s a good start,” he replied. “Think about it. Who else?” Moments later is when it hit me: the realization that the person I am angry with is my abusive ex-husband. He did so many horrible things to me, to my body, to my vagina. I prefer to call him my ex-abuser. For years I had never really let myself cry about it. And so I cried hard. I was no longer feeling suicidal and my therapist had helped me to solve the puzzle of where my suicidal ideation had come from. Because that’s what happens when I get triggered: I become suicidal.

Reaching Out For Support

Now, I would like to know what happens to everyone else who gets triggered. What does getting triggered look like for you? Think about it for yourself. All I have to go off of is my own experience. My negative thoughts begin spiralling down and I become fixated, completely fixated, on the idea that I need to die. Then I start thinking about the ways in which I would attempt my impending suicide and that’s when I get scared. I start texting my friends for support. I reach out to the SickNotWeak community on Twitter. And when necessary, I call the crisis hotline (800-273-8255). I immediately schedule appointments to see both my psychotherapist and my psychiatrist as soon as possible. My therapist always helps me to understand how this happened. It is the understanding part which calms me down and sets my mind more at ease. It’s always the same process, each time, every four to six weeks. It has become a pattern.

Knowing Helps

No matter where I am at in my life, there’s always going to be something which will trigger me and I never know when that is going to happen. It seems to just happen out of the blue. But now, in writing for this new blog called Mindful Recovery, I’ll have to know that triggering material will come up. I don’t think knowing that fact is going to keep me from being triggered though. It’s kind of inevitable and I need to find a way to manage my emotions more effectively. I have been working on that for the last ten years in psychotherapy and each year I get better at it.

I Will Continue to Tell My Story

Why not just write about material that is not triggering? Well, I do that too. But without knowing about my personal experiences with trauma, suicide, and depression, you wouldn’t be able to connect as well with what I am discussing. For all of the people in similar situations to me who have been silenced, I will not stay silent. I will speak my truth, even if it is triggering to me. It’s not just about freedom of speech. It’s about bringing up the salient issues of mental health which I am passionate about. I’m no superhero, but what I can do to contribute to the world is to share my story sparing few details. I am very open about the six years of sexual abuse that I went through during my former marriage. I am an overcomer and I live to tell my story. Thanks to the medical staff, doctors, and my mental health care professionals, I am still alive today.

An Experience of Getting Triggered While Writing Something Triggering

Anjuli Nunn

Anjuli Nunn identifies as a writer and is based out of San Diego, California. She is a mental health advocate. When she is not composing poetry, she likes to study psychology and philosophy. She also enjoys spending time with her mixed breed 12-pound dog named Samuel, whom she rescued in 2017.

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APA Reference
Nunn, A. (2018). An Experience of Getting Triggered While Writing Something Triggering. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 24, 2019, from


Last updated: 25 Jun 2018
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