FIRST DAY COLLEGE TRIGGER

I have to say, having completed my first full day at college plus travelling (by wheelchair), I’d forgotten how exhausting it all is, having not done it for many years. I got caught in the rush-hour. I haven’t had the ‘pleasure’ of that for years, thankfully!

I arrived at college early so had time to have a much-needed coffee which always calms me down if I’m feeling anxious (I know that goes against all the health guidelines about caffeine but it works for me!). The course started at 10am. It was really strange being amongst other people in a learning environment. It’s been many years  since I’ve been in a classroom of any type. I took notes on my laptop because of my physical inability to write. The topic was interesting…Food and Mood of which, having been anorexic, I thought I was an expert on! But this wasn’t about calories and kilos but about the chemical changes that take place in your brain and how that ties in with nutrition. There was only five of us given that a couple of people were away sick and another couple had backed out at the last moment. I was pleased in a way as I find working in a large group too impersonal.

college

We stopped for a lunch break and I got chatting to two of the other students over coffee (and a banana, my lunch!). We got on really well and swapped phone numbers so we could stay in touch and in fact, I have already spoken to one of the girls from there this evening which was nice.

Then came the afternoon group (a totally different ‘kettle of fish’ altogether). I felt intimidated both by the size of the class and also by the tutor who seemed very unapproachable and obviously  wasn’t used to working in a mental health environment despite the fact we were studying NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) which is a type of therapy or way of managing life. Useful? Yes. Interesting? Yes. Interaction between students and rapport with tutor? No.

We were working through several leaflets, handouts and books, breaking NLP down into various sections. I found it quite fascinating and could connect with most of what was being said or studied. But suddenly i was overcome and shocked by a flood of unexpected feelings which left me completely paralyzed and locked in my own little world. Why? Because we’d turned the page and the not-so-approachable tutor announced that we were going to talk about triggers!! She was apparently referring to positive triggers like evocative memories of music, smell, feelings etc. I was ‘gone’ by then….flashbacks flooded through me, memories of abuse including smell, touch etc suffocated me. She mentioned pleasant scenes from the past being positive but all that was going through my head by then were very negative, abusive, terrifying scenes from the past. I found myself holding my breath; my eyes welling up; my body shaking and then the PTSD took over and I had a full-blown panic attack followed by uncontrollable sobbing.

post-traumatic-stress

I managed to wheel out of there into the kitchen, swiftly followed by one of the students I’d got chatting to earlier who made me a coffee and sat with me for a while, for which I was very grateful. I couldn’t go back in to rejoin the class though as I was too shaken. I really hadn’t foreseen that one coming. However, on a positive note, I’m not giving up. I’m going back on Thursday to have another go, including tackling the NLP group as this time I will be prepared, just in case, although the centre of the topic will have probably moved on by then but if not, I will stay with it and not let my abusers prevent me from furthering my education as they did as a child.

I will have a future and move on from being held back by my past. I will not let those bastards win. This time, I will beat them!

15 thoughts on “FIRST DAY COLLEGE TRIGGER

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment. It helps me to write my feelings out. I will be prepared more to fight off those triggers on Thursday. Thank you for the hugs and strength. Hugs too, Ellie xxx

      1. Hi Jo! Thank you so much for asking how college went and for the much appreciated hugs. College was much better yesterday, thanks. I had Creative Writing in the morning and NLP in the afternoon and both were very interesting and enjoyable. I even stayed on after the NLP session to chat with one of the tutors and another student which was really nice. I was pretty exhausted when I got home, but in a good way! I’m now really looking forward to going back next week. Big Hugs coming your way too! xxx 🙂

  1. Maybe make a list of coping skills you can immediately use to stay present if you are triggered again. I’m glad parts went well and looking forward to hearing more!

    1. Thank you for your comment. From the little I have learned, it seems that ‘Triggers’ are the backbone of NLP (I may be wrong, of course) and no matter how hard I try, when it says to use your senses, memories of smell, touch, vision, sound etc, it instantly conjures up negative triggers in my head. I don’t seem to be able to get control of it rather than it, me. I’ll have to try again, I think. But as you say, the rest of the day was good in most parts. I’m next there on Thursday again but trying hard not to envisage the outcome too negatively. xxxx

      1. You know, that’s how I am. I need to use physical grounding techniques because if the techniques are in my head and not physical, I fall apart. If it continues to trigger you, maybe you can talk to your therapist about how to manage it. xx

  2. Bravo Ellie. 🙂

    Despite the unfortunate and negative episode, I’m so proud and inspired of your courage.

    You have the strength to get through this —and apart from using some coping skills, always keep in mind that, well, our minds are our greatest power – and we *do* have the abilities to manage them — and learning, especially if you are stimulated (in the right way) is one of the most powerful means of changing, growing and engaging with the world.

    Well done 🙂

    1. Thank you for your kind comments, Pat. Yes, I do agree, our minds are our most powerful tool. All my life, I have been labelled as a ‘pessimist’, especially by family. Maybe I was at one time and although I do, very often, have negative thoughts but now I try and ‘see’ the more positive aspects of life 🙂

      I have just started to read a really good book called “You Can Be Happy No Matter What” by Richard Carlson PhD which I’m finding very useful and practical. I have always loved learning despite my capabilities being stunted as a child because of my abuse.

      I am thoroughly enjoying being in an academic environment again and intend to make full use of this opportunity to learn, change and grow in any way I can that it is helpful to me. I’m not going to let this one negative incident stop me from persevering. I am back at college tomorrow and I expect that will be a much more positive experience.

      In my growth, I have to give credit, too, to my wonderful friends here at WordPress who have encouraged me on every step of my journey and intend to write a blog about how much you have all helped and supported me on my travels through the blogging world and propelled me forward.

      Thanks again, Pat, for your kind, helpful and constructive support. *Onwards and upwards*! :). Hugs, Ellie xxx

      1. With an attitude like yours Ellie, you will create the life you truly desire and want — even despite the harder moments, which only make our triumphs sweeter 🙂

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