Personally, most of my triggers escape me. The only ones I know for certain are the ones which produce anxiety; social situations and loud noise and public transport, among other things. But with regards to my depression, suicidality, self-harm and general life meltdowns, it’s mostly unclear. Because they’re a strange thing, triggers. Or more accurately, triggering situations. They can surprise you. They capture you, entangle you in a snare of despair. They’re traps laid by memories that are gaps in the concrete in to which I stumble, fall, and am lost. And once I’m lost, it becomes more and more difficult to return.
For the past few weeks over mid year university break, I have been with my family. First with my sister, on a small road trip, then with my parents at their property in regional south-western Australia.
It has reminded me of all the reasons why I left.
It has reminded me of the shouting. The bitterness. The sarcasm. The suppression I actively must force upon my own personality, because I am different to the rest. The words I must choose carefully, selectively, lest some intelligence leaks out to be taken as an insult. I am reminded of emotional abuse, and of neglect. I am reminded that I will never be good enough, that I will never quite be enough – thin enough, smart enough, pretty enough, relaxed enough, happy enough. I am not – and I never will be – enough in their eyes.
I am reminded of the years and years of mental illness that went unnoticed. Of years of anorexia. Bulimia. Anxiety. Depression. Bullying and PTSD and BPD and bipolar disorder – in that order. I am reminded of every single moment that I regret, that I left behind for a reason. The photographs in which a gaunt face stares back at me. The traces of a depressed, skeletal being who clung to life with only tea and fruit and vegetables. There are remnants of my past scattered everywhere: in the furniture, the garden, the boxes of books that I can’t bear to sell, but are too heavy to transport to Sydney.
A wall of suppression hides painful times in my mind, but the past is being clawed out from the mortar. It is gauged from my soul as I watch, dissociating impassively, and re-live all the anguish hidden beneath the surface. This is a place of triggers: depression swamps me, anxiety overwhelms me, my eating disorder consumes me, and urges to hurt myself leap out of the shallow place where they remain tethered and threaten to change my destiny from one of life, to one of death.
This shouldn’t be what spending time with family is like. But unfortunately, this is my reality. I am simultaneously surrounded by the nature I love, and the family I can’t. That it takes all my strength to simply exist with, never mind holding a conversation, or cooking dinner with, or doing chores for. I am surrounded by a minefield of triggers, and it is proving inescapable.