How to Handle the Emotional Triggers We Can’t Avoid Pulling

Social media memory sections are great reminders of happy events in the past. Unfortunately every year these memories start our mental countdown that end with our life altering critical incidents in August and September of 2010.

As we gaze at pictures of happy moments from the past, we are dreadfully reminded the anniversaries are around the corner. We now look at the past pictures of our smiling faces with the knowledge we are about to watch our train wreck happen all over again.

Dr. David Riggs, Executive Director of the Center for Deployment Psychology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, has been quoted by Mental Health America about PTSD & Triggers:

“For people with PTSD, it is very common for their memories to be triggered by sights, sounds, smells or even feelings that they experience. These triggers can bring back memories of the trauma and cause intense emotional and physical reactions, such as raised heart rate, sweating and muscle tension.”

How we handle these triggers now are what keeps us centered in our lives.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” ~Viktor E. Frankl, Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor who was the founder of logotherapy.

So how do we as That Peer Support Couple deal with our triggered responses? We came up with a list that helps us, and hopefully it can help you.

  1. We don’t ignore the triggers or the significance of the anniversaries and our related thoughts.
  1. We talk about what we are experiencing or feeling in the moment with each other. You can do the same with your spouse or significant other, a trusted friend, peer support and/or trained mental health counselors who specialize in first responder trauma.
  1. Open up an old journal and start writing again. If you don’t have a journal then maybe you want to start one. We write articles for Law Enforcement Today. Keep up with your hobbies. If you stopped your hobbies then start them again.
  1. Exercise and eat healthy. Don’t increase your alcohol intake or just don’t start drinking.
  1. We remind ourselves we are survivors. We are in a much better place now. Hopefully you are too. Pat yourself on the back … YOU ROCK!
  1. We share our story. Since we have opened up about our experiences we discovered we are not only helping others, we are helping ourselves. You never know who you might help if you share your story with others.

We are aware it’s not easy for everyone to navigate through emotional triggers. Our hope is you will read our words, check us out on Facebook or Twitter or come see us speak so you can understand there is a new hope out there for you and our first responder community.

emotional triggers

(Photo courtesy Ryan Johnson/Flicker)

Una Stamus & Celebrate Life!

Cathy and Javier Bustos are law enforcement officers in Central Texas. As “That Peer Support Couple” they are strong peer support advocates speaking about surviving critical incidents and marriage. They can be reached by email: [email protected]