Triggers. What a big topic. There are paragraphs, essays, even books on this topic because this is such a big topic. I couldn’t talk about it all in one blog post so I will give the “shortish” version.
For someone who is going through recovery for an eating disorder and then has to reintegrate back into the world is incredibly difficult and comes with a host of what people call “triggers”
Each person entering and following the process of recovery has their own unique and individual set of triggers. “In much of the eating disorder community, trigger is used to describe things that are upsetting and can lead to eating disorder behaviors. It is common to hear a patient speak of being “triggered” by specific foods, situations, and interactions.”* This definition, I feel, simply describes the meaning of a trigger. There are many different types of triggers one can experience. Many common ones include seeing one’s weight, shopping, parties/scenes with lots of food, certain comments about appearance, diet talk, the eating habits of others etc.
Ok, enough clinical talk, I don’t have a degree… yet, hehe.
Deep in my eating disorder and even at the beginning of treatment I was apparently triggered by a lot, but I didn’t even realize it. I would buy my friends food just so they would eat more than me, I tracked what my family ate along with what I ate, and if anyone talked about someone with a good body it propelled me into constant conversation (more like me listening to) my eating disorder voice. My first few weeks in recovery, I would feel so ashamed if I ate my food quicker than the other girls, if I finished my meal, if I chose a more “challenging” snack etc. Actually, my eating disorder felt ashamed and guilty. I wanted to be the best anorexic out of all of them and I know, I know that sounds kind of sick and twisted but that is just how much my eating disorder manipulated my mind. My eating disorder made me detest certain people because they were “skinnier” than me and I didn’t even take the time to get to know them as a person. To say it simply, I was triggered by so much which then affected so many relationships and made it difficult to go out. But, along with the eating disorder thoughts that once plagued my mind, my triggers decreased as well. Through the three months I have been in treatment, I have discovered the plethora of triggers that I never thought would bother me and as I learned about them, I learned how to battle them.
Triggers are an incredibly difficult thing to deal with. To be quite honest, they absolutely stink. I mean, as if it is not hard enough already to be fighting the own “little” voice in my head, I know have to fight outside forces as well, hell am I tired! Honestly, there is no “How To” on how to not let triggers be a both or an outline and exact plan on how to decrease them, but there are some things that I did, that helped me. I believe one of the biggest triggers in eating disorders, or at least for me, is being around others that are struggling with the same thing. Seeing girls that are skinnier than me, eat less, exercise more makes my skin crawl.
The person who makes it furthest in their eating disorder ends up gone and never actually gets to live a life. I viewed all these girls as competition instead of humans. I viewed all of my now closest friends as people that I had to beat. I had to be sicker than them, skinnier than them, eat less than them, and why you ask? Well to be completely honest, I don’t know. It seemed perfectly rational back in the depths of my eating disorder, but now I look back on it and just think how absolutely ridiculous I was being. Of course I didn’t see it then and it is still difficult for me to channel my rational mind when I am surrounded by a group of people that are talking about dieting or when people talk about how little they’ve eaten. But the biggest thing I have realized is that I have been in that spot. I might have triggered others at one point and look at me now, I am struggling. These people that are participating in diet talk etc are struggling just as I once struggled. They are not holding these conversations around me to trigger me instead I should look at it as something that I relate to and identify with. I guess what I am trying to say is that I have learned these people are human beings just as I am. Now, not saying I am 100% over all triggers, I just now have an idea implanted in my head to help me get through each triggering moment, of which there will be many because that is the process of recovery and that is the path I have chose to continue on.
*Eating Disorders Glossary