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Blog My Clear Mind

How to Manage Your Triggers

Anyone who has been through any type of trauma may have experienced or will experience ‘being triggered’. But I have come to learn that not everyone knows how to manage these triggers when they occur, more so being proactive about it. In my last post, I wrote about understanding triggers, now let us learn how to manage triggers.

Managing triggers may sound very simple, but they may not be as easy as they sound, however, it is completely doable. You will just need to give yourself time to understand yourself and your patterns in determining what works best for you. I will split this into three main parts on how to manage your triggers: pre-trigger, ‘trigger-crisis’ and post-trigger.

Managing Yourself Pre-Trigger

  1. Understand your triggers: Pay attention to the things that cause you triggers. In the last post, we talked about internal and external triggers. Are your triggers more internal (such as fear, anxiety, panic) or external (environments, certain people and places). Do they occur at certain times of the day, month? How about maybe around specific seasons? For example, I noticed the birth and death anniversaries of my parents and brother are triggers for me, including Christmas (my dad died a little over a week to Christmas). I got depressed and overwhelmed a lot around these periods. Problem is they always snuck up on me, which leads to the second thing.
  2. Name and Prepare for your triggers: Once you can pinpoint your triggers, name what you feel when they set in (for example, panic or depressed), then prepare for it. As mentioned earlier, the triggers I experienced used to sneak up on me, but once I understood the dates and time, I prepared. One thing I did was:
    • Initiate the thoughts myself rather than let it come in haphazardly. For instance, I would think ahead of things I am grateful for about the lives of my loved ones who had passed and those still here with me. This sort of ‘redirected my feelings’ and I was better prepared when the negative feelings came.
  3. Engage your support system: Talk to at least one person whom you trust who can tell behavioral or psychical signs in you, and if need be, stop it in its tracks. For example, I start to get irritated for no reason. Sometimes, my husband calls me out on it, and I know I need to scale back on stress.
  4. Decide on a ‘happy place’: This can be a person, place, thing or memory that brings you so much joy. For me, my family is my happy place. More to come on this.

Managing Yourself During a Trigger-Crisis

The steps to manage yourself in this sounds the simplest, yet the hardest. It is kind of like trying to cure a sickness rather than working to prevent it. Takes more effort (energy). But here are some things that can help:

  1. Admit to yourself that you have been triggered and acknowledge the feeling. This is like gliding with the wind, rather than fighting against it.
  2. Practice deep-breathing (this helps calm your nerves)
  3. If the trigger was a familiar object, close your eyes and combine it with #2
  4. If you can find an object, shift focus to it.
  5. Picture your ‘happy place’: This is why it is important to decide the happy place before a crisis. In the middle of the crisis, it is easier to ‘go there’ when it is pre-determined.
  6. Call someone who can help you keep calm or remind you of these steps
  7. Have an internal affirmation: This can be anything. My go-to was “Jesus help me”. Also, muttering something like “this is not real” can help too.

Managing Yourself Post-Trigger

  1. Relax: Do not try to rush off to the next thing. Your body has just gone through stress. Stress is not the next thing it needs.
  2. Journal: Again, do not try to do this right after a trigger-crisis. But not too far either that you forget. Write down all you can remember (what helped and what didn’t). Soon enough, you will notice a pattern and that can help you be better prepared next time.

In addition to the above, the following are also ways of managing triggers:

  1. Exercise: this helps balances hormones in your body and reduces stress. Personally, I find, stress is my number one undoing.
  2. Eating clean: Also hormone related, but you feel better energy overall, which helps.
  3. Therapy: I have personally never undergone therapy, but it definitely can work. Depending on how severe it is, it’s probably advisable to see a professional.
  4. Have a Support System: whether it is someone (people) actively praying for you or who you can call when triggered, you need positive and compassionate people around you.
  5. Meditation & Prayer: I am a Christian, and this is by far what worked the most for me. Engaging the truth of God’s Word for me through mediation, confession and prayer was and continues to be the best thing for me. If you have no relationship with Christ, I encourage you to re-think (and feel free to send me a message)

So there it is people, these are some ways you can manage triggers, and/or help someone you know experiences such. I must say that I am not a psychologist, or a therapist. These are drawn from my personal experience dealing with triggers and what worked for me overtime. I know first hand triggers and the experience they bring can get in your way of living life to the fullest, but it does not have to be that way.

What have you tried, did it work? Share with me me in the comments below.

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Blog My Clear Mind

Understanding Triggers

Would you agree that a problem you don’t understand you cannot effectively deal with? Same holds true for understanding triggers.

As someone who experienced trauma, I had a lot of triggers. On my parents’ birthday or death anniversaries, I used to get depressed. Or when I spoke to certain people from my past, I would have flashbacks and panic attacks. And when I felt overwhelmed or had too much on my plate? I would feel extreme stress and getting out of bed became a hassle.

But at the time, I did not understand these things, hence, became a victim to them. There are some people who experience triggers but do not understand what it is or what is happening to them. I would know, seeing that was me, once. So, I do not want the same for my readers or someone else out there.

Today, I want to share with you what triggers are. When you understand those unsettling feelings, you are half-way to solving them, because you know what the issue is.

What is a Trigger?

If we want to keep it simple, trigger is simply anything, person or event that reminds you of the past. Much more than a reminder of the past, triggers are characterized by an uncomfortable and overwhelming feeling of sadness, stress, anxiety or panic. These feelings make it hard for the person to ‘be in the present’, almost as if they are ‘trapped’ elsewhere.

Types of Triggers

Triggers can be internal or external. These two types would often fall between the categories of environment, emotions or exposure. Some examples of internal triggers include:

  • Fear/shame/guilt/anger
  • Stress/depression/anxiety
  • Pain/sadness/loneliness
  • Memory to previous trauma
  • Feeling overwhelmed/out of control

Examples of external triggers include:

  • Anniversary dates of traumatic events
  • Certain people
  • Senses (touch, smell, sight, sound)
  • Specific locations
  • Movies
  • Loud noises
  • Poor physical health
  • Other stressors such as financial issues, too many activities

These are not exhaustive lists. Triggers also differ for each person. If left unchecked, triggers can become more frequent and lead to addictive behaviour such as drinking, substance abuse and in some cases suicide. These are coping mechanisms, but bad ones that only lead to more problems.

Again, I would know because I had once tried to cope- but the wrong way. And yes, I ended up with addiction, negative behaviours and poor emotions. I even became suicidal. It didn’t have to be this way for me. Neither should it be for you.

The good news is, I am getting better and overtime, I have understood this idea of triggers and how to manage them. In the next write-up, I will share some of my coping mechanisms and how I have managed triggers. Have you ever been triggered and did not know? Would you like to share with me?

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Blog My Clear Mind

It’s Mental Illness Awareness Week

Starting tomorrow (Sunday October 4th-10th, 2020) is Mental Illness Awareness Week. The week culminates into the World Mental Health Day

I could not think of a better time to upload the Instagram live chat I had with Dr. Temitayo Aboaba, who is a Geriatric Psychiatrist.

In this video we:

  • debunked some myths around mental health,
  • talked about the difference between mental health and mental illness,
  • how you can take care of your mental health,
  • how you show support to someone with mental illness, and much more.

Go ahead and watch the video:

Insta-Live Chat witih Dr. Tayo Aboaba: ‘Debunking the Myths of Mental Health’
CANADA-WIDE MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES

The following resources are available for youth and adults across Canada in need of mental health support.

PHONE, TEXT, CHAT  APPS AND ONLINE SERVICES  
Kids Help Phone Text Services: Text “CONNECT” to 686868 (also serving adults)
Chat Services: https://kidshelpphone.ca/live-chat/


Youthspace.ca (NEED2 Suicide Prevention, Education and Support) Youth Text (6pm-12am PT): (778) 783-0177 Youth Chat (6pm-12am PT): www.youthspace.ca

Crisis Services Canada Toll Free (24/7): 1 (833) 456-4566 Text support (4pm-12am ET daily): 45645

Canadian Crisis Hotline 1 (888) 353-2273
Better Help www.betterhelp.com Online access to professional counsellors On the web, and available for iPhone and Android users

The LifeLine App
www.thelifelinecanada.ca Direct access to phone, online chat, text, and email crisis support E-counselling, self-management tools, access to crisis centers across Canada Available for iPhone and Android users


ONLINE PEER SUPPORT Big White Wall Canada Big White Wall Canada www.bigwhitewall.ca Anonymous peer support community accessible anytime, anywhere
SASKATCHEWAN- Healthline 811
Mental Health Resources in Canada- Source: THE CANADIAN CENTRE FOR MENTAL HEALTH AND SPORT (CCMHS)
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Blog My Clear Mind

Guilty Mom-Wife

‘Guilty mom-wife’, those were the words Jane’s friend said to her when she tried so hard to make her feel bad for being a career woman. guilty-mom-wife-what would you say to Jane?

What would you say to Jane, as those words plagued at her heart? Is she really a guilty mom-wife who denies her husband and kids of certain pleasure in choosing to pursue her dreams?

Coming into the house, Jane collapsed into her favourtie couch in her home. Taking off her shoes and kicking off her heels, she folds up her sleeves, ties her braids hair into a ponytail. Getting up, she walks to the fridge, scanning through, trying to figure out what to make for supper. Today was one of those days she does not get to have the luxury of time to catch her breath before going from boardroom Jane to mom-wife Jane.

Upstairs, she could hear her husband trying to convince their four-year old son to finish changing into his nightwear, before going down to say “hi to mummy”. Unlike her husband- John, Jane does not enjoy the luxury of flexible work hours. Perks you get for being your own boss. But it is a blessing as John helps pick some of the balls she has to juggle as dictated by the shackles of culture and tradition.

She enjoys her work as a policy consultant with the government, she also loves her mentorship group with ladies and teenagers she runs on weekends, but more than those, she loves being a wife and being a mom to her two little kids. Some might say she has a pretty good life, well balanced, with well-behaved kids and an amazing husband.

Why then does she feel so disappointed in herself sometimes, almost as if she feels guilty for having this amazing life, and for choosing to share herself with the world, to live for more than herself. To live purposefully? Is she really a ‘guilty-mom-wife’? What does that even mean?!

It does not help either that her friends and family make comments that add to this feeling of guilt, of not being enough for her kids and husband. Just when she thought she had heard it all, it did not help that her friend made a cruel joke about ‘being there to take over the care of her husband and kids, when he got rid of her’. In her friend’s words “no man likes a woman who has it all put together, so stop being this super woman, because if he gets bored and leaves you, I will be here to give him all the fun he wants and as a good friend, take care of your kids”.

Of course, she got rid of that friend- oh no, not the kind of ‘rid’ you are thinking about- like she stopped being friends…just focus please, will you? Thank you! So back to Jane, she stopped being friends with that lady, but the words have not left her. Is she really a bore for wanting to do the things she loves? Is her husband really not happy but just masks it? Do her kids really have more to lose than gain?

Is there really a cost to a woman wanting to be the best version of herself? To contribute to her home financially, and ease the burden on her husband so they can both have the life they want with each other and their kids? Could there really be something she is missing? What do men want, materialistic dependent ladies, or women who truly know their onions and are unafraid to pursue their dreams? If tables were turned, the expectation is for the wife to fully support her husband.

So if two truly becomes one, why can’t the husband support his wife’s dream, especially where there is no conflict like in her and John’s case? Even if there was conflict, can’t two matured adults talk through their dreams and aspirations and come to an agreement of how to make it work? Jane was getting tensed as she thought of her friend who has lost a sense of purpose in the name of ‘supporting her husband’s dream. “Who made these rules anyway?” Jane muttered under her breath as she pulls out a sizzling baking whole chicken from the oven.

My husband and kids are well fed and taken care of, Jane thought to herself. Given, she does not always cook as often as some other mothers, nor does she clean personally all the time. Considering she makes enough to pay for certain services other women do as chores and feel like the supermoms of the 21st century, she didn’t think it mattered if she personally did these things, as long as they were taken care of. If someone thought otherwise, that is not on her, it is on them for leaving their brains in the 1st century. Besides, her husband always reminds her that he is with her hundred per cent. So who cares what anyone else thinks? Right?!

Jane walks over to the dining, setting down a fresh baked whole chicken from the oven. “Honey, kids, dinner is ready”, she yells as she sets down the rice and peppered sauce plus a bowl of salad. She steps back to take a look at her work (did I mention she does love to cook fresh meals for her family?), she smiled very brightly as her husband and kids walk down the stairs, kids already in their sleepwear, giggling on the shoulders of John.

As she hugs them, she can’t help but think that she truly has a good life, and her husband and kids are part of the reason she strives to live purposefully. She reminds herself of why she does the things she does. So once again, as every other time in the last three years, she convinces herself to make peace with her choices.

Guilty mom-wife? Is that even a thing? Who made the rules? Who said she couldn’t? Jane wants to meet with them, perhaps it’s time for a little mind-shift. What say you?

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Blog My Clear Mind Survivors Corner UnderstandTEEN-YOUTH

From Suicide to Purpose: The Day I ‘Died’

Going from suicide to purpose on the day I ‘died’, I found life. I had just been stood up by my boyfriend at the time. He said he was too sick to go to class to read, I offered to cook him something and send to his room, he declined.

I had exams in two days, so I decided to go study on my own. At seventeen, I was in my first year of school. My academics was my safe place, I did it right and never joked with it. Off I went to one of the classrooms in the famous Obafemi Awolowo University and guess who I found getting cozy with his ex-girlfriend or so he claimed?

Just a Trigger

I know what you are thinking, you wanted to kill yourself because of a guy! Nah, it was not about him. Been suicidal since I was about eleven (11). Nothing helped, I lost weight, had good grades, pretty (still very pretty), had tons of family around me, drank, smoked, but felt empty. He was just a trigger!

I had cut myself a number of times, I had held a knife to my belly so many times. Once, I took overdose of a drug. There was fantasies about a car hitting me off the road. So much so, I did sometimes intentionally walk into the road in hopes….Each time, I either could not follow through or something interrupted me.

Now that we have established it was not about a boy, can we move on? So, seeing him cozy with this girl, I dialed him up. He picked and was murmuring, saying he was cold and wished I was there, they both laughed, and that laughter felt familiar.

It was not the first time someone had made fun of my naivety and gullibility. Yet somehow, the brightest idea I had of how to not let that happen again was to end my life.

I Just Want it all to End

I remember crying so hard, I ripped the chain I had on from my neck. It felt like my heart wanted to pop out of my chest, I honestly thought I was going to die from a heart attack, well that did not happen!

I walked from one end of school to another, in search of ‘otapiapia’ (a drug used to kill rats) at about 2am. They were all closed, except for one where this man took one look at me and blurted out “I am not selling to you my dear, go to your room and sleep and come back tomorrow. Bless that man!

To my room I went indeed, but not to sleep. I cried some more, pulled out a knife, put it to my belly, about to stab, when a thought hit me: “you know it won’t be fair for your roommates to find you in a pool of blood when they wake up”.

Taking a deep sigh, I put the knife down, and for the fist time pulled out my Bible. I hated God because as far as I was concerned, my horrible experiences were His fault. But that day, I prayed: “Dear God, I don’t know if you are real or there, but if you are, all I want is for you to make sure I do not wake up in the morning”.

Hugging my Bible, I slept off. Soon enough, I woke up to the sound of busyness in the room. Recalling what happened, I blurted out “God you are a coward who won’t let me come up to you” (do not ask me what I was expecting to happen when if I indeed died). In an attempt to roll over, my Bible fell and opened up. Without trying to read it, my eyes fell to a verse.

suicide to purpose
Source: https://bibleversestogo.com/

The Waking….

It was as if God responded to me saying “if only you knew what I had in store for you”. Then I saw Dupe Akinsiun (nee Osho) walking towards my room as she usually did every Sunday morning to invite me to ‘cell’. This time, I did not run out the back door. She doesn’t know, sssshhhh, don’t tell her!

Holding my Bible, I followed her without fight or questions, this same verse was read during the cell meeting, and later that day at church. That day I gave my life to Jesus Christ, dying to self, I was raised to life.

See I started that day wanting physical death so badly, but the reality of my spiritual death hit me. It hurts me that I do not remember the exact date, but it remains to me the day I went from suicide to purpose. I found a new reason to live as I hope someone out there today does as well.

The things we go through sometimes feels unfair, and I get it. But, do not let anything get you to the point of your ending your life. You may not have heard God for yourself yet, or maybe you have, but let me be His voice to you: “if only you knew what is in store for you”.

Looking back, people would have said I killed myself over a guy, who by the way never knew what happened. But I am so glad I am here today to share this, and perhaps let you know you are not alone. Hope it help you see that in depression, suicidal thoughts, you too can find purpose and life. YOU are part of my purpose and why I started LoudSilences.org.

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Welcome to LoudSilences- Turn it Up!

My name is Ann Adefuye, a.k.a Anita (nee Young-Itiye). I am Nigerian (soon to also be Canadian). I am from the Kalabari tribe (Rivers State) in the South-South Region of Nigeria. I also regard myself as Yoruba- by marriage.

I have three great passions that will be driven through this platform- teenagers & young adults, sexually and domestically abused people, and mental health. I have personally experienced ugly sides of some aspects of all three, hence the passion to be a voice to those who are still trying to navigate these valleys. 

I have plunged to the lowest points of life and somehow sprung back up. My worst experiences are known by very few people in my life and of course not accepted by all. Not because they do not know the truth but because of a fundamental concept that has plagued the Nigerian and African culture for the longest time- the ‘Culture of Silence’.

“It is well”, “Insha Allah”, “Don’t disgrace this family”, “shhhhh, how dare you say such things out in the open”, “what would people say”. The list goes on and on in the different forms that we put the lid on cans of worms. These can take purely religious or cultural undertone, or both. But not anymore! We have a beautiful culture to a large extent, and we can harness them for good, not to keep people bound!

The silence is getting so ‘loud’, it is deafening, the rising number of suicides, deaths by domestic violence, increasing number of divorces, the shaming of victims. There is tremendous work being done by diverse organizations to bring these ills to light, but the voices speaking for victims and calling for prevention strategies can never be too much.

So I welcome you to loudsilences, where we will add our voices to others, help one another understand the impact of the ‘The Culture of Silence’, and turn things around, by unlearning and relearning.

Can you hear the silence?

I will tell stories (some would be real stories of real people, including myself), I might share videos, whatever forms of communication it takes to help us undo the damage of years of silence, including sharing reports and/or data.

I need something from you in return, challenge the status quo of your thoughts and perceptions towards these things, educate yourself and others. Choose to empower people who have been trodden down, build compassion and lend a hand and heart to a broken soul. Be a voice and together, let us quiet down these loud silences, and raise our voices to the tune of a better world.