Why 'Triggered' Jokes Hurt Me as Someone With Mental Illness


People may call me a “special snowflake” or say I’m being too sensitive, but something about “triggered” jokes really winds me up. Maybe it’s because any slight against millennials (those who bear the brunt of these jokes) makes me feel defensive — or maybe it’s just simply because I don’t find being triggered a fun or pleasant experience. I don’t really think of it as something to joke about.

When I get triggered, it usually looks something like this:

I see his first name somewhere, and it immediately gives me flashbacks. I start hyperventilating, my chest hurts and I want to cry, but I can’t because the dry heaving is keeping me from doing so. Every time I close my eyes, I see him, and I see what he did to me, but I can’t do anything about it.

When someone says something particularly negative to me, or I mess up and make someone angry with me, I feel like they hate me. I begin to sob uncontrollably. I spend days recovering and when I even think about it, it sends me through a spiral again.

I feel like I’m going to be abandoned. My biggest fear. I will be in bed for a week, ignore every single text coming my way (even from the person I feel is abandoning me) and spend all of my time alone. I will self-harm, or do something else self-destructive.

When I get triggered, I hurt myself. I blame myself. I hate myself.

When I get triggered, I destroy myself from the inside and don’t want anyone to see me because I feel embarrassed and ashamed with how I react to things that happen in my life.

When I get triggered, I don’t only destroy myself — I also destroy my relationships, my social life, my educational life. I hide from the world and I don’t want to ever come out from under my covers.

Being a victim of abuse, and someone who has borderline personality disorder (BPD) I get triggered easily. It certainly doesn’t mean I’m weak, and having my disorder equated with weakness is insulting and hurtful. I don’t choose to be triggered, and I don’t have a choice in what triggers me.

I think, if those who made “triggered” jokes, were to spend a day understanding what exactly triggers are and how those kinds of jokes can offend, alienate, and even… you guessed it, trigger, someone with mental illness, they would realize it’s not OK. By telling someone they’re “triggered,” you’re telling them they get offended over nothing, or the reason they’re upset isn’t valid, which is not what being triggered is like. For those of us with mental illness, being triggered can sometimes feel like the end of the world because of how much it hurts. Our experiences and the reasons we get triggered are valid.

I know some people think I’m just being overly sensitive, but I hope it helps others realize these jokes are harmful to people with mental illness. Being triggered is a horrible experience I would never wish on another human being. To witness someone equate being triggered with being “weak” or “sensitive” is a truly offensive and horrible thing to experience as someone with serious mental illness.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Thinkstock photo via BlueLela 


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