Dismantle Your Triggers

Dismantle your triggers.

Do not fear them.

Identify them.

Write them down.

Break them down.

Start at the root of the issue and analyze the effects of that epicenter.

Retrain your thoughts.

The process begins with the will to not be ruled by what isn’t truly real.

Mental health is more than a hashtag or a slogan, it is a necessary topic for conversation because it is such a “mystery” to so many. Whenever people recover from a mental health ordeal it is always a case of “how did they do it!?” or “it’s a miracle!!” While yes, it is God-sent in my opinion, it is not as enigmatic as some may make it seem. There are active things that you can do to build your mental strength. And on that same train of thought, there are active things that you can do to regain control of your thought processes. One such area that can be tackled, (and needs to be approached in that direct of a manner) is triggers. Triggers are deceptive as f*ck. They take truths and cloak them into lies rooted in paranoia. But like everything that can feel insurmountable, the process begins with BABY STEPS.

Now, first off, I want for you to be very conscious of the fact that dismantling your triggers involves a lot of emotional work. It requires rigorously monitoring your thoughts and actions until it becomes second nature. But YOU CAN DO THIS! Learning how to break down what sets off negative mental patterns is a highly empowering experience because, it allows you to live in what is true and real as opposed to what your deceptive associations dictate. When you begin, remember to BE KIND TO YOURSELF. Pull out the tissues if you need to and get busy working on what it is that has been controlling you.

Grab a pen.

Grab some paper.

And get to work!

The work that you will be doing will help you in every aspect of your life. When you look your triggers straight in the face, you show yourself that you are not afraid. You are choosing to not be afraid of what is going on around you and what is going on inside of you.

I dove head first into my triggers and rode the wave all the way through. Whether or not that was the right way to do it, I can’t be sure. But, here I am on the other side. I did meet some people along the way who were able to get through to me when my triggers had taken control. I am grateful to those people. I am grateful for the mirrors they held up to my face that forced me to see myself when more than a fog had set in.

Triggers can be highly disorienting. They can set you on a path of self-destruction that, if you had the tools in your mental health toolbox to deal with them prior, could have been avoided. This is what I am talking about when I refer to preventative measures. This is what is necessary for the future of our society. We need to approach mental health education as being necessary for our youth. It needs to equip our children with the knowledge of how to deal with mental struggles because let’s face it: we all struggle mentally at one point or another in our lifetimes. Whether it is a breakup, grieving from a death, or the results of trauma, we all go through some form of mental turmoil at one point or another in our lives. While most can relate on that point, not all of us experience intense and overwhelming triggers to the extent that they need to be unpacked. Well, there is no shame in being a part of that group, but it is a shame when you deny your membership because then you deny yourself optimal functioning and happiness.

If you need help, reach out to someone you trust. Do research on exactly what your issue is. Do not pull the ostrich approach when it comes to your triggers, your head deserves to be clear.

How To Conduct A “Self-Interview” While You Heal

To kick off Mental Health Awareness Month on London Mind Fit, I am going to start with a very important technique that I used during recovery. In fact, it’s something I continue to use and see myself using for a long time. It’s called a “self-interview.”

At a time when the majority of the world is in, or emerging from, some sort of lockdown, collective mental stability is essential right now. Maintaining our critical thinking at this time is more important than anything but making sure not to lose ourselves and what is important to us is another.

No matter where you are on your journey of healing or self-discovery, I find it helps to periodically conduct a “self-interview”. I started this practice when I was in a debilitating depression where my self-expression was practically null. When I began interviewing myself I did it verbally because I wanted to hone my verbal skills back to the level of expression they were at before, or better, and through this practice and other exercises as well, I recovered.

Recovery is a process, one that I continue to be in every single day. This is what I committed to and what is most important, and I have seen the results of putting my mental health first help transform my life for the better. Improvement is what is important here, not achieving some sort of image of perfection.

A self-interview is simple, although for some it may be harder to complete than others. That’s okay though. Some self-interviews are very emotional because we are the ones asking the questions, and when it comes down to it, we want the answers to the big ones. If you’re not sure where to start, perhaps consider setting the lighting to one you are comfortable with and meditating first. Or, if you’re ready, dive right in!

Aim to ask yourself around 5 questions but don’t be disappointed if you start with less or even go over. The idea is to not overdo it but also to get to a good place in your responses, and believe me, the responses can be revealing.

You can conduct a self-interview verbally or in writing, and I would recommend doing the writing by hand and the verbal interview definitely when you are alone. I am a writer. Sometimes I use dialogue to illustrate a point, so writing in someone else’s voice is something that comes naturally to me. But this is something ANYONE can do. You just have to believe that you can.

If you find that it’s just not working but you’re committed to seeing what you find out about yourself and how it helps you with your freedom of expression & communication skills, start with brainstorming labels of identities that you associate with. Then use some of those labels that you identify with to help guide your questions like an interviewer looking at you would.

If you want to hear a little bit more about the self-interview and the origins of this practice in my healing process listen to the episode of The Eric Ibey Podcast where I discuss it.

Healing is a journey we all take, and mental health is something that affects everyone. You have a mind right? It’s in your body, right?  So, therefore by law it must also be subject to at least some of the same principles as the rest of the physical form even if it has its differences. Well, I applied the concept of repetition in exercises like for a physical workout towards my brain at a time when everything looked bleak and got out of it. Now that I’m in this place, I’m going to do everything in my power to stay here and continue to improve. In the process, I am also in a place to share the journey with others.

Balance is essential, but learning who you are in life can help any person, whether these words resonate with you or not. For me, the self-interview helps when I need some unscrambling, venting, clarifying, or healing. For you, perhaps you can find that it is helpful in different ways. But whichever way you look at it, you really don’t have anything to lose in trying it out.

The one fear you have to overcome prior is finding out the truth about yourself. The intention and expectation is that you will answer these questions honestly, otherwise you will get no where. You are supposed to learn what you want to know about YOU, not someone else.

Another great tip is to envision your favourite interviewer asking you the questions. I visualized Barbara Walters and Oprah to start, and now I don’t need to envision anyone else doing the asking.

An example question and answer from a written self-interview I did in 2019 is:

Q. What is it about mental health that makes you so interested in the field?

A. The fact that I had accomplished as much learning about health, had experience in the field, and an attentive eye on the mental health crisis affecting our global community and yet, until my bipolar diagnosis, I didn’t know the full extent of what mental health was. How deep it could go and how complex it can be.

The answer goes on for another long paragraph, but you get the idea. Ask yourself things you would want to know about yourself and go from there. This sample question is from a 6-question long interview that I conducted at a time when I needed to make, what to me was a big decision. I may not have come to the decision through the interview immediately, but it helped me in the process to see things clearer.

Make no apologies for what you do to maintain your mental health and never assume that it does not apply to you to do some work because there was a day when I had no diagnoses or real issues to speak of. Prevention is key to avoiding any type of crisis. Who cares if you look silly to someone else? It’s your mind, and it deserves some attention and challenging exercise sometimes.

If you’re looking for a place to start with your mental health, this is an effective practice to throw into the mix.

And if it doesn’t work for you, cool, but it could work for someone else who needs it.

It worked for me.