I’ve Got PTSD – And Even I Think Trigger Warnings Are Ridiculous

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By Charlotte Winterton | 5:28 am, December 16, 2016

I am many things, and a handful of those things include being someone who has suffered from a mix of mental illnesses. The checklist includes Clinical Depression, Anxiety and PTSD; all of which were medically diagnosed and I have been treated for.

Like others, certain situations, images and people can trigger negative symptoms.

But I refuse to lambast any individual, company or publication for not plastering the words “Trigger Warning” across their articles or posts.

My simplest objection is that they don’t work. As any therapy-goer will know, part of being treated involves identifying what “triggers” symptoms – to understand how to tackle the problem. So, even the warning itself can make people think about whatever triggers them.

Often when I’m about to read something non-triggering (for me), say, about eating disorders in young men, “Trigger Warning” sits on top of it. Well congratulations, virtue signaler! I am now thinking what triggers me. I could have happily got by without another reminder of my own triggers.

I am also intelligent enough to realise by myself that perhaps a report on rape, suicide or a knife attack isn’t the best thing for me to engage with if I don’t want to feel distressed; as my triggers include knives and blood, due to a long history of self-harm.

Trigger warnings can only go so far. There are bulimia and anorexia sufferers who feel triggered by watching others eat or seeing thin models in magazines.

We can’t ask mothers to put flashing neon signs above their kids eating an ice cream at the park – nor should we be treating fashion magazines as radioactive.

Aside from being impossible, it’s an arrogant behaviour that says “it’s the patient who knows best” and that the majority should comply with their irrational fears, no matter the cost.

Self-diagnosis is also a concerning trend, as seen in students who take a Women’s Studies class and suddenly need protection from triggers. Claiming you need shielding from being reminded of “the patriarchy” or the memory of a time you got hit on in the street, only emphasizes how this is more about petty censorship than genuine mental well-being.

It’s as if victims of rape, child abuse and war crimes are somehow equivalent to somebody who melts down if someone disagrees with them about how air conditioning is sexist.

As a sufferer, it feels like there has been a hijacking of mental illness by the left, to facilitate a “full stop” to arguments where whoever got triggered” disagrees.

Making topics “untouchable” topics is a regressive policy that undermines the legitimacy of genuine sufferers.

The overuse of trigger warnings, and the double standards of its advocates, has even forced the University of Chicago to adopt an anti-trigger warning/ safe space policy to protect the freedom of ideas and debate, as triggers are being weaponized in a war against freedom of speech and Libertarian values.

But even where the trauma is extreme, and the effects are genuine – is it right to let people retreat and to validate the unhealthy, life-limiting behaviour that this gives rise to? Ignoring or not trying to treat an illness is wrong.

It wouldn’t be appropriate within physical health, so why is it okay for mental illness?

As story after story proves, the trigger warning movement has gone too far. Leftist campus groups and media radicals make me feel as if I can’t discuss my issues openly without being labeled as non-functioning, difficult and useless to the rest of society.

All thanks to individuals behaving like this delightful snowflake on a university campus in Australia:

Mental health problems, and difficulties they cause, are real.

But rather than hiding from them, we should bring our problems into the open, seek help and reach out with compassion and understanding. Spending time screeching at people for acceptance will not convince anyone to support your cause.

Sufferers and “allies” must not continue to alienate themselves and others towards the rest of society. In a divided world, more division will not help. From one snowflake to another, please stop.

Follow me on Twitter @Charli_1991