The Mighty Logo

The Exhaustion of Being Triggered

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Living with mental illness can be exhausting. Like, holy crap why do I always feel so tired and exhausted? Sometimes, I fight against my brain and berate myself for being exhausted because honestly it is a fair assumption I am not out setting world records in the 200 millimeter butterfly.

• What is PTSD?

Once I am done being mad at myself, I remember the reasons for my physical and mental exhaustiontriggers. I wake up in panic from the nightmares I have every single night. My nightmares are almost always the same and they are nothing if not consistent. If there has ever been anything in my life I could count on, my subconscious is right up there with chocolate.

So, there I am every morning as my eyes open, breathing heavily, heart racing, completely convinced I just relived my past trauma. For excruciatingly long seconds, I am unable to think like the 42-year-old woman I am, and I become a child seeking comfort. I no longer feel safe in my own home, my bed or my skin. In the moment, nearly every morning, I forget any coping skill I have learned, or in my case, developed, over the years and lay frozen in my bed.

Eventually, I stop holding my breath and start breathing again. The fight or flight response in me dissipates and I remember I am safe. I am safe. I am (deep breath) safe.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Anxiety. These are the words used by professionals in my life in order to better help me. They do not define me. They do, however, leave me exhausted. All day, every day I live, cope and survive the triggers of my past. I am a work in progress and that’s OK. One day I will be able to live instead of survive. Until then, I embrace the coffee that has become my blood and lifeline, and I try to gently remind myself my triggers are just that, triggers. I make the choice to remind myself I am safe. I am enough.

I will not quit.

Sign up to follow more mental health stories.

Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: August 24, 2016
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home