It always starts with the skin on my forearms. In Spanish, the phrase is se me enchina la piel. It is a warning that soon my breath would catch. And when it does I am eager but I don’t know why.
I can’t keep a thought in my head because they are marbles racing in my brain. They change colors with each rotation and I just catch keep thoughts straight. But it’s only when the invisible boulders sit on my shoulders that I know for sure.
I’ve been triggered. The anxiety is real but the dealing with it isn’t.
In the past couple of weeks have been a trigger-poloza. Nationally, with another school shooting, we have collectively been triggered. We think of Sandy Brook and Columbine and we keep asking for some relief from the next one we know is coming. The shoe can drop at any moment and the national conversation concentrates on gun control. Old arguments are re-hashed and lines are drawn and then nothing. The anger and indignation dissipate to nothing, like the ending of a tornado.
Then, for me, it’s the personal triggers. I listened to an episode of Therapy for Black Girls. It’s was my first episode and it won’t be my last. This episode was about race-related stress and the guest therapist discussed work and microagressions. Oh, yes, the microagressions. I know them well.
And it was like she was putting my experience into words. She was giving it a name. Defining it. Listing the symptoms. And saying that this is real. This is real. This is real.
What I felt and what I went through was real.
And so that triggered me. My mind went back to 2015 and that time in my life. It went back to July 2015 and the bottle of pills. It went back to the gaslighting and the depression and the moments that are now part of my DNA.
And my skin began to curl. The triggering was beginning.
But here’s the difference between past triggers and how I deal with them now. Before, they would knock me out for at least a week. Those boulders growing heavier each day. But now I carry those boulders for only a day or two. And they weren’t as heavy this time.
As I get closer to dedicating time to the memoir, I am hyper-aware of my triggers and how I’m coping. I am hyper-aware of how I treat my people around me. I am also hyper-aware that when I tell my story, it will only be the beginning.
Such as life. It’s a series of starts and stops.
This time, however, I won’t be alone when the anxiety hits.
Keeping my head above water,