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The Emotional Triggering That Happens When You're Chronically Ill

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I think we all can say that other people trigger us. And when we are dealing with chronic illnesses that involve anxiety, depression, panic attacks and mood swings, this triggering easily becomes amplified.

I’ve been triggered quite a bit from other people in the past, especially since becoming sick.

It’s oftentimes the comments people make that tend to dismiss my illness. I’ve been told I am exaggerating my symptoms, that chronic Lyme disease doesn’t exist, that my treatments are poisoning me, that I’m too sensitive, that I need thicker skin, and that I’m too thin.

I felt triggered by doctors who dismissed my symptoms and told me “it’s just stress.” Some of these people had well-meaning intentions, but it was really hard to deal with when I knew I was following my intuition and doing my best to heal myself.

These situations made me feel powerless, judged, unheard, disrespected, ignored, unloved, frustrated, and controlled.

In the past, I automatically went into “victim mode” and thought, “Wow, these people are so mean. Why are they picking on me?” I got angry, defensive, and started questioning myself and my decisions.

Now I choose to look at these situations from a more empowered place. If these people are triggering me, it means two things:

  1. They are showing me something I need to heal.
  2. Their comments are a reflection of their inner state. By judging me, they are avoiding looking at something inside of them that is hurting.

I realized that feeling triggered meant I needed to heal my people-pleasing tendencies. Growing up, I wanted to be liked by everyone and took it personally if someone was mean to me. I tried to find ways to connect with everyone, but in the process, I lost myself. I know now that I won’t be able to please everyone. No one can.But I can focus on the people in my life who stick around no matter what and who are unconditionally supportive and loving. And if some people don’t like me, that’s OK. I will connect with the people with whom I’m meant to connect. Not worrying what other people think is so liberating! And it changes my perspective on everything that has happened to me.

These triggers also showed me that I needed to stand more in my power. Every time someone said or did something I didn’t like/didn’t agree with, and I started questioning myself, I was giving my power away. I learned that I needed to trust my intuition more and not let others change that — even doctors.

Feeling triggered showed me that I feel unheard. Every time someone said something that upset me, or I was misunderstood, I shut down instead of standing up for myself. Of course there are situations where it’s best to keep quiet, but for me I was too quick to do this and I let others have too much power over me. Once I realized this, I was able to use my voice more often and better express how someone made me feel or what I needed from them.

Feeling triggered also made me more compassionate towards other people. When you realize that how people react is oftentimes a reflection of what’s going on inside of them, you realize that everyone is dealing with painful issues. The difference is that some people don’t want to look at themselves and don’t want to deal with it, while others are eager to do the inner work. If we find ourselves coming into contact with someone who triggers us, we can wish them well and set boundaries to protect ourselves.

I still get triggered by others’ comments and actions, but now I have the knowledge and skills to see the situation for what it is and figure out why I’m triggered.

I have learned so much about myself in the process, and for that, I am grateful.

This story originally appeared on Lyme, Body and Soul

Originally published: June 9, 2019
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