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.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via BlueLela 

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Borderline Personality Disorder

Young girl portrait

What Happened When I Used a Skill I Learned in Dialectical Behavior Therapy

I’ve been in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for several months now, and am just finishing my first round through the modules. Though I’ve seen some progress in how I handle extreme emotions, progress has felt slow or even nonexistent at times. This is frustrating because I want to feel better as fast as possible, which [...]
photo of a woman smiling. Text reads: Taken 7 hours before I attempted suicide

Photo Taken 7 Hours Before a Suicide Attempt Shows a Hard Reality of Borderline Personality Disorder

“I had no idea I’d try to take my own life in the morning.” This is what Milly Smith, who runs the popular Instagram account selfloveclubb, wrote beneath a photo that was taken seven hours before she attempted suicide. Although this might be surprising to some, Smith lives with borderline personality disorder, which she explains, “means [...]
Pete Davidson

Pete Davidson Gives an Inside Look to the 'Manipulation' Associated With BPD

During an intimate conversation on comedian Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast, “Saturday Night Live” cast member Pete Davidson revealed he had been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) — an often misunderstood disorder that affects your mood, relationships and how you see the world. Davidson had some genuine (and some funny) things to say about what it’s like living [...]
Pete Davidson

SNL's Pete Davidson Says He Has Borderline Personality Disorder

In an interview on Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast, Saturday Night Live cast member Pete Davidson talked about being in rehab for marijuana use and revealed he was recently diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Davidson, 23, has been open about using marijuana before, both to help his Crohn’s disease and recreationally. But the comedian told Maron his marijuana use [...]