What to do When You Get Triggered Online
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I really hate the internet sometimes. Nearly once a week I think about deleting my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and leaving social media behind for good. All of this because social media can be so triggering at times for me as a survivor of sexual assault. But I choose to stay because I want to be a light and share goodness on the internet when I can, but it can still be hard at times.
A lot of this started around the 2016 election.
Which is completely ironic because some of my really bad and triggering mental health days happen in the fall, when everything with the election was happening and then again in 2017 when #MeToo became huge and again this year with everything that is happening (not gonna get into it really because, well, triggering.) While I am so grateful that more women and men are talking about their experiences and I do feel like we are very slowly changing the way we talk about these things/deal with rape culture, I still hate the internet at these times.
I have been fairly open about my abuse (sexual and emotional) and I talk often about my PTSD. Just because I talk about these things though, it doesn’t make it any easier. I still struggle and fight every day to cope with my PTSD and anxiety and each time I tell my story it is so so hard. The past week as the trial has been everywhere, I’ve been extremely triggered. I felt personally attacked after I shared an inspiring quote on my personal IG story about sharing your story and not being a victim and a woman messaged me saying “but only if the story is true.” I felt myself crumbling.
Even though I am not the one on trial, I suddenly had the image of 20 years from now, my abuser in some sort of power/political position for the world to see. Would I share my experience even more publically? Right now, I don’t know if I am that brave. But that message hurt so much because it felt so personal. That even though I have my experiences, I don’t have any proof. People could call me out for lying or say things like the message I received. And that sucks so much.
What you can do if you are getting triggered:
- Take a step back. You don’t have to constantly be on social media. Know your limits. I deleted Twitter off my phone this week and I’ve been using IG and Facebook very sparingly.
- Talk to someone you trust. Have those people that you can talk to about these things. Tell them how you are being triggered, talk it out as much as you can. Talking with my husband the other day helped me feel so much better.
- Practice self-care. You know you best, do those things that will help you feel calm and collected.
- Again, stay off the internet! This will die down, but until it does or until you’re in a good place just take a break.
Things you can do if you aren’t getting triggered to help those who might be:
- Think before you post or comment or send that message. You never know what someone is going through, and is what you’re sharing actually helpful?
- Be there for your friends who are struggling. Reach out, even just to chat. That helps so much!
- Keep your opinions to yourself. I feel like we all share a little too much these days, myself included.
Those are just some of my thoughts today. I’ll be using social media sparingly for the next little bit, but remember that your words matter and you can make a difference. If you’re struggling, know you aren’t alone, my DM is always open on any platform and you can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need someone to talk to.