Sydney Davis

@xiedney | contributor
Sydney Davis

Why We Shouldn't Make Jokes About Being 'Triggered'

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

Sydney Davis

Why Thinking Your Trauma Isn't 'Bad Enough' Is Unhelpful

How do you live with your own traumas when you keep comparing them to other people’s traumas? To others, there is a line. But I was never raped. I didn’t go through a series of horrific incidents. I didn’t have a bad childhood; my parents loved and protected me as best as they could. The sexual abuse I endured wasn’t as bad as it could have been. My life has been a series of mini-traumas that built into complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD). The amount of emotional toxicity I have experienced from friends and partners would probably shock the average person — the abuse has been enough to the point where I have never been in a stable relationship, despite having been romantically involved with a handful of people in my life. And the emotional abuse was not just romantic; many of the people I have called my friends have harmed me. I have no idea how to have friends, or what to do with them. For years I felt uncomfortable involving myself in social situations; in fact, it’s only recently, within the last year or two, that I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone to make friends. It’s still scary. I still prepare myself in how I should look and behave in front of other people. Let’s talk trauma. What creates a trauma, as opposed to just a bad event? The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines trauma as a “physically or emotionally harmful or life-threatening” event that “has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.” Life-threatening, for me? No. It was very much emotionally distressing, but not life-threatening. But was it my fault? Did I cause my own trauma? By sticking around bad situations, one would assume I created my own problems. I had the strength to leave these situations. I was not forced into staying, unlike, say, domestic abuse victims. I went places with my abuser; he was my friend. I kissed the ones who called me “stupid.” I slept with the ones who felt embarrassed by me and hid me from their friends. I stuck around when I knew she was cheating on me to spite me. I let them stay after they wouldn’t listen when I said “no,” or when I said I wasn’t interested. I still texted her every day even after she called me a slut when I told her about the abuse her boyfriend put me through. I allowed people to come into my life and destroy me. I wasn’t forced into these situations. I was placed into them, and I followed through with them. But it wasn’t my fault they hurt me. It wasn’t my fault they abused their power in these situations. It wasn’t my fault they caused irreparable damage to me. And I think that’s the point. Even if our trauma isn’t “as bad,” even when we compare our trauma to others’, it doesn’t erase what we have gone through. It doesn’t get rid of the bad feelings and the nightmares. I still am triggered by the slightest things, such as the name of someone who has abused me. Comparing my trauma to others’ does absolutely nothing except make me feel worse about my own situation, and does nothing to improve my mental health. I experienced pain and hurt and sadness, and it turned into trauma. I experienced trauma. No one will ever be able to take that away from me, even if they don’t think my trauma is “bad enough.”

Sydney Davis

To the Doctor Who Blamed My Fibromyalgia on My Weight

Dear Dr. [Redacted], I get it. Sometimes, it’s easier to just blame the patient for their problems. Sometimes, it’s easier just to tell the patient they need to lose weight. It’s a lot easier than actually doing your job, I suppose. And yes, I am fat. I have been fat for years. The only times I wasn’t fat were when I was a young child, and then again in high school, mostly because I had a very complicated relationship with food and would often starve myself as a form of self-harm. But it doesn’t explain my pain. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2017, when I was still living overseas and was able to be referred to a rheumatologist. I was relieved. I finally had an answer for the pain I’ve been experiencing since I was a teenager, the pain that has rapidly gotten worse over the last five years, to the point where some days I can’t even get out of bed. And when I can get out of bed, I feel nauseous, weak and brittle, as if I am going to crumble and fall apart at any moment. Unfortunately, when I was made to leave and come back to the States, I was completely dismayed and nowhere near the hopeful person I had been when I was diagnosed. I knew it was going to be an uphill battle trying to get doctors to believe me. And I have had doctors dismiss it before, but nothing like how you dismissed it; when I first walked into your office, you listened to me describe my symptoms. You listened to me describe the intense back, shoulder and neck pain; the spasming in my hips and knees; the weakness I feel and the amount of sleep I get (sometimes more than 12 hours in one night); the gastrointestinal problems I struggle with; the fact I get home from work and break down into a fit of tears because I ache and hurt all day. Finally, you listened to me as I said, “I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia,” and you immediately recoiled in anger. “It’s not fibromyalgia,” you said. “I’m going to give it to you straight — it’s because you’re fat.” Yes, I know I’m fat. I’ve had this pain since I was skinny. Maybe gaining weight has caused it to get worse, but I don’t believe that’s the only reason I’m in pain. I explained this to you through tears. “Well, lose some weight first and if you still have pain, maybe it’s something else.” And, well, despite knowing full well that I had a diagnosed autoimmune disease in addition to the fibromyalgia (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis), it didn’t register to you that maybe some of my pain was because of this disease. It also probably didn’t register that I was more likely to have the MTHFR mutation; I assume this because you still gave me Vitamin B12 shots in order to “give me a boost of energy,” which I later discovered were not being absorbed by my body. Every single week, when I was getting these shots, I was told I would start to feel better. But instead, I felt worse, because my body continued to attack itself. And you blamed me for not trying hard enough to lose weight. You gave me an appetite suppressant to help me lose weight. And it didn’t work, because I’m an emotional eater. Because I’m in so much pain all the time, it makes me frustrated and sad, so I eat, and I eat, and I eat. But instead of telling me how I can fix this, instead of prescribing me something that’ll help subside the pain, instead of listening to me, all you can say is, “You’re fat. You need to lose weight.” Even when I told you I had severe pain in my fingers, you acknowledged it could be nerve damage, which is when I thought you would change and come around to the fact I actually did have problems with pain. But then, you immediately regressed into telling me I needed to lose weight and that the pain would stop if I did so. It’s not OK to treat your patients this way. To treat us as if all of our problems can be solved just by simply losing weight. To treat us all as if we have the same pain that can be alleviated by simply losing weight. What would you say to someone who was much thinner than I, explaining they had severe pain in almost every part of their body that never went away? Would you dismiss them, or would you actually accept their pain is real? Would you have turned away the unhealthy, thin 16-year-old me who experienced severe back pain, or would you have told me to lose weight, or would you have believed me? Just because I am fat does not mean my pain is somehow less real than someone who is skinny. Just because I am fat does not mean my pain is intrinsically linked to it. I want to be an advocate for myself. I want to be able to speak for myself, and not have someone dismiss me because of my weight. I want to be able to openly talk about my symptoms and my problems relating to my pain. I want to do it free of judgment. For this reason, I have decided I can no longer see you. I need to find someone who will validate me, who will actually listen to my problems and not blame it all on my weight. I owe myself that much, at least. Sincerely, Sydney.

Community Voices
Community Voices

If you live with #Fibromyalgia, what's something you wish your loved ones would say to you more often?

It could be a reminder, some words of encouragement, or just an "I believe you." What would be most helpful for you to hear?

#ChronicIllness #ChronicPain #Disability #CheerMeOn

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Sydney Davis

When Bipolar Disorder Makes You Repulsed by Sex — Not Hypersexual

Sex is a tricky topic. It is seen as some sort of taboo, despite the fact that most humans (and animals!) do it regularly. When talking about sex with my friends, I can sometimes see their cheeks go red, the embarrassment of having to talk about that sinking in. I grew up in a household where talking about sex was not taboo. My parents have always been open with me, giving me the sex talk at an early age and allowing me to ask questions if I had any. My mom even came with me when I wanted to be put on birth control at age 19 after I told her I was ready to have sex with my then-boyfriend. When it comes to bipolar disorder, something I have been struggling with for half of my life, the narrative seems to be that we are all hypersexual beings. We thrive off of and crave sex during our manic phases. I have even fallen into this when experiencing mania — it’s frankly impossible to avoid, in my experience. However, we are seen as nyphomaniacs, often generalized as being cheaters. Take a look on Google and all you’ll see is articles about how obsessed with sex people with bipolar disorder are, and how it often leads to infidelity. The accuracy of such claims is suspicious at best and also dangerous in how they depict people with bipolar disorder. But bipolar disorder is not just characterized by a heightened sex drive. It also appears as sex repulsion, and the repulsion is strong. The studies conducted by mental health professionals seems to focus solely on major depression and its impact on the libido, but little is ever said about the bipolar person with sexual repulsion. People seem to forget that people with bipolar also become depressed, just as easily as becoming manic. I go through phases, just like every other bipolar person. One minute I am elated, or full of energy I never even knew existed inside of me (I deal with chronic pain, as well, so any bit of energy I have is a blessing); the next, despondent and unable to think about anything except suicide. When it comes to sex, while manic I am insatiable. I seek out attention wherever I can find it because I feel odd about myself. I crave the attention, lust and feeling of closeness with someone. The repulsion, however, can be just as difficult to deal with as the hypersexuality. It is not just the frustration that comes with the inability to reach orgasm. For me, sex repulsion comes with a hatred for myself. I feel absolutely repulsed by myself at all times, and it feels as though I want to throw up. The thought of someone touching me makes me want to recoil in disgust — not because of anything my partner has done, but because my brain has decided that sex is the most grotesque act imaginable in that moment. I am unworthy and “unclean.” And it can be quite confusing to explain to your partners exactly what is wrong, and why they are unable to fix it. When I am in a depressive episode and a man I am dating asks me if I want to spend time, I feel uncomfortable because I know sex is to be expected at some point. So I avoid, and I make excuses as to why I can’t spend time with them, and I wait for my depressive phase to be over with, which, like the depressive phase I am in now, could last months. Being honest and open about your sex repulsion is the most positive way to go about interacting with your partner, but it can also very difficult. How do you even begin to explain to someone that doesn’t experience sex repulsion that you are feeling it very strongly? How do you explain the fact that you do not want to be touched or even looked at in a sexual way? There is nothing shameful about feeling repulsion towards sex, just like there is nothing shameful about feeling hypersexual. If you are experiencing sex repulsion, there is nothing wrong with you, and you are not disgusting or any of the other things you may be feeling. Bipolar manifests in many different ways, and our disorder is nothing to feel disgust over. All we can hope for is that our symptoms do not take over our whole lives.

Sydney Davis

When Bipolar Disorder Makes You Repulsed by Sex — Not Hypersexual

Sex is a tricky topic. It is seen as some sort of taboo, despite the fact that most humans (and animals!) do it regularly. When talking about sex with my friends, I can sometimes see their cheeks go red, the embarrassment of having to talk about that sinking in. I grew up in a household where talking about sex was not taboo. My parents have always been open with me, giving me the sex talk at an early age and allowing me to ask questions if I had any. My mom even came with me when I wanted to be put on birth control at age 19 after I told her I was ready to have sex with my then-boyfriend. When it comes to bipolar disorder, something I have been struggling with for half of my life, the narrative seems to be that we are all hypersexual beings. We thrive off of and crave sex during our manic phases. I have even fallen into this when experiencing mania — it’s frankly impossible to avoid, in my experience. However, we are seen as nyphomaniacs, often generalized as being cheaters. Take a look on Google and all you’ll see is articles about how obsessed with sex people with bipolar disorder are, and how it often leads to infidelity. The accuracy of such claims is suspicious at best and also dangerous in how they depict people with bipolar disorder. But bipolar disorder is not just characterized by a heightened sex drive. It also appears as sex repulsion, and the repulsion is strong. The studies conducted by mental health professionals seems to focus solely on major depression and its impact on the libido, but little is ever said about the bipolar person with sexual repulsion. People seem to forget that people with bipolar also become depressed, just as easily as becoming manic. I go through phases, just like every other bipolar person. One minute I am elated, or full of energy I never even knew existed inside of me (I deal with chronic pain, as well, so any bit of energy I have is a blessing); the next, despondent and unable to think about anything except suicide. When it comes to sex, while manic I am insatiable. I seek out attention wherever I can find it because I feel odd about myself. I crave the attention, lust and feeling of closeness with someone. The repulsion, however, can be just as difficult to deal with as the hypersexuality. It is not just the frustration that comes with the inability to reach orgasm. For me, sex repulsion comes with a hatred for myself. I feel absolutely repulsed by myself at all times, and it feels as though I want to throw up. The thought of someone touching me makes me want to recoil in disgust — not because of anything my partner has done, but because my brain has decided that sex is the most grotesque act imaginable in that moment. I am unworthy and “unclean.” And it can be quite confusing to explain to your partners exactly what is wrong, and why they are unable to fix it. When I am in a depressive episode and a man I am dating asks me if I want to spend time, I feel uncomfortable because I know sex is to be expected at some point. So I avoid, and I make excuses as to why I can’t spend time with them, and I wait for my depressive phase to be over with, which, like the depressive phase I am in now, could last months. Being honest and open about your sex repulsion is the most positive way to go about interacting with your partner, but it can also very difficult. How do you even begin to explain to someone that doesn’t experience sex repulsion that you are feeling it very strongly? How do you explain the fact that you do not want to be touched or even looked at in a sexual way? There is nothing shameful about feeling repulsion towards sex, just like there is nothing shameful about feeling hypersexual. If you are experiencing sex repulsion, there is nothing wrong with you, and you are not disgusting or any of the other things you may be feeling. Bipolar manifests in many different ways, and our disorder is nothing to feel disgust over. All we can hope for is that our symptoms do not take over our whole lives.

Sydney Davis

Why the Worst Part of Chronic Illness Is Feeling Boring

There are many aspects that make being chronically ill very tough to deal with. For example, brain fog, which turns your brain into, basically, a pile of mush. As an academic, I struggle with this one a lot because it becomes nearly impossible to write, or to write as flowery and beautifully as I used to. It also ruins my ability to remember anything from lessons and readings. Another example is the pain, obviously, which wears me down and tears me apart. It makes living unbearable occasionally, and uncomfortable the rest of the time. But, the most awkward and upsetting part of being chronically ill is probably the fact that I have become a boring person. Of course, this is not to say that every person with a chronic illness is boring; in fact, the chronically ill people I know and have met are some of the brightest and most fun people I have ever known. But, for me, it is something that affects me more than any of the other symptoms of my illness. It is the worst part of being ill. For me, my pain has taken over my whole life. If I am not in bed sleeping the day away, I am too exhausted to do simple tasks such as spending a couple of hours out with my friends. My friends, the ones who are not chronically ill, will drink all night, dance, party and have fun. Meanwhile, I will stay for a couple of drinks, sit the whole time and probably joke about how I will have to spend the next few days in recovery just from going out. The worst part about it is that I am excited to go out and will spend two hours getting ready, only to be ready to go home an hour after I get out the door. Not only does it make me a boring friend, because I also struggle with depression, along with several other mental illnesses, I also have the unfortunate problem of not having any real hobbies. The activities I enjoy are too painful for me to do on a consistent basis (such as writing, cooking or needlework, something I have not done in ages), and my depression makes it nearly impossible for me to take joy in whatever I participate in. Most of what I do nowadays, when I am not sleeping, is sit on the computer or read. Making new friends is difficult because I generally avoid public situations, and when I find a friend who understands what is wrong with me, it feels like such a relief if I ever have to cancel on them. I find myself more frustrated than anything else because I desperately wish I were able to interact with new people, find new passions and be the fiery person I used to be when I was not ill. That person is gone, and sometimes it still hurts to think about.

Sydney Davis

Why We Shouldn't Make Jokes About Being 'Triggered'

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

Sydney Davis

When Your Chronic Pain Leaves You Feeling Exhausted

For those of us with chronic pain, “I’m tired,” is a loaded statement. It means much more than simply, “I want to go to bed.” Tiredness for people with chronic pain is something that never goes away, no matter how hard we try. It means pure, total exhaustion. An overwhelming tiredness constantly. People with chronic pain don’t get a break from feeling tired. We just have to keep going and hope the exhaustion doesn’t affect what we do in our day to day lives – which, inevitably, it does. It means feeling the weight of the whole world on my shoulders. Everything hurts. I describe the pain like it’s as if I’ve been trapped inside of a very small box for days and I feel squished. No matter how much I stretch, I can never feel like I’m out of the box. Constantly feeling this way is the reason why I’m so tired all the time. The pain can be so intense that it just exhausts me physically and mentally. It means I could sometimes stay awake all night because I’m in too much pain. I’ll stay up all night staring at the ceiling, in too much pain to do much else, which means I’ll get up in the morning in a lot of pain and without having had any sleep. And on the other hand, it means I could sometimes sleep for hours and hours without feeling refreshed. Most people, when they get a full night’s sleep, will wake up feeling ready to take on the day. For people with chronic pain, it means I’ll wake up feeling just as exhausted as I did the night before. I can sometimes sleep for 12 hours, get up for 30 minutes, and then feel like I need to fall back asleep. It means my brain takes longer to process certain things, such as answers to questions. It means I work a bit slower than everybody else. It means I need a little bit more time and patience from people. Lastly, it means having to listen to my friends claim that they can relate to how tired I feel. I appreciate the thought, but it leaves me wondering if they’ll ever truly know how it feels to be in a constant state of tiredness. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock Image By: yourstockbank