Are triggers traumatizing?
Recently there has been quite a bit of talk in the birth world about triggers, and how any photos can be a trigger… Photos of csections, scars, doctors, IVs, epidurals, natural births, happy babies, sad babies. All can be a trigger for different people, for different reasons.
I see this differently than many. As I work with people I am made very aware that ‘triggers’ are nothing more than unhealed trauma. For some any photo of a birth or surgery will be traumatizing, and for others it means nothing.
Having the awareness that a trigger is a sign of trauma and having the tools to heal the trauma are two pieces that *must* go together. Without the tools to heal trauma, we are living in a reactionary world where at any moment we may be victimized by someone else’s choice of photos. That feeling of living as a constant victim of circumstances and the ‘Happy Bubble’ we try to create is a protective action that MUST be utilized sometimes. It is sometimes necessary to retreat, lick wounds, invest energy, and heal. And too much Happy Bubble is isolating rather than healing.
In other words, technically the photo of the needle is not traumatizing, the traumatizing parts are the thoughts, emotions, and traumas that flood a person when they see *that* photo. A symptom of trauma, not the cause.
That said, avoiding all photos of needles is not possible, and it is *critical* that the indented audience be considered for any piece. The author whose story we were discussing has a HUGE reach, and her articles will of course, reach many who were not the intended audience.
I think a dialog about ‘this image can trigger nightmares, does another one serve your purpose yet get your point across’ can be valuable. I think ‘you are giving moms nightmares with this photo’ are blaming, and not true. The trauma is real, and giving moms nightmares. That sucks.
The best approach I have found so far is to help heal as many traumas as possible… birthworkers, mamas, families, hospital administrators, anesthesiologists, you name it. Find ways to heal people so those images will not act as triggers to unhealed trauma. Teach people tools to use when they *are* triggered so they can invest that energy surge more effectively.
Asking that the photos (of an actual procedure that is known to have side effects and perfectly illustrates the story) simply stop being used means pretending there is less trauma, since there are less triggers. I can’t get behind that. I vote for less trauma!
Let’s get these tools into more hands – let me know if you want to learn how to do that. Might be a great way to channel your passion, and you get to see miracles every day!
PS: Want to read the story that stimulated the trigger discussion? Read it here
NOTE: photo of an epidural in the header