A reader asked:
Hi. I’m triggered by outbursts of anger and by people being majorly depressed around me. My roommate has outbursts of anger and major depression. Help?
My first thought is that you’re probably not compatible roommates. Living with that person probably means you’re inevitably going to get triggered by them a lot, which isn’t good for either of you.
That said, it might depend on how being triggered works for you:
- Some people can learn to detect when something is about to become triggering and avert it.
- It might be possible for you to do things like figure out which kinds of contact with your roommate are triggering, detect when it’s about to happen, and extract yourself
- For instance, if it’s about seeing facial expressions your roommate makes when they’re angry, it might work to leave the room when things are getting too close to the edge
- But not everyone’s triggers work this way.
- It may not be possible to find ways to avoid being triggered while still living with someone who does a lot of triggering things
- If that’s how it is, it’s not a personal failing, it just means you probably can’t safely live together.
- Not everyone is compatible, and that’s ok
It also might depend on how often it happens, and what the consequences are:
- If it’s infrequent, it might be bearable. Depending on how that is for you personally
- It also depends on what kind of trigger it is, and how you feel about it
- Like, if it’s the kind of trigger where you have to spend an hour freaking out and convincing yourself that you’re safe, you might decide that that’s bearable
- It’s totally ok to decide that being regularly triggered in that way is deal-breaking, though. Either is ok, it’s a matter of what you want
- If it’s the kind of trigger where you spend a week fighting suicidal feelings, it’s probably really important to get out of that living situation as soon as possible
Aside from what to do in the roommate situation, some thoughts about being triggered by anger:
- Anger is a particularly difficult trigger to deal with
- Because anger is an inevitable part of just about every relationship ever
- Sometimes people will be justifiably angry at you, and have a legitimate need to express it
- And sometimes you have to deal with the thing they’re angry about even though you get triggered by the anger
- Even though it’s not your fault, even though you can’t avoid getting triggered
- The underlying thing they’re angry about still has to be dealt with
- Getting triggered by things people can’t reasonably avoid doing is really awful
Further thoughts about anger:
- Having to deal with anger sometimes doesn’t mean that you can’t ever avoid it
- Sometimes people have a legitimate need to express anger about something you’ve done, but most ways you’re likely to encounter anger in your day-to-day life aren’t like that
- Not all anger has anything to do with you, and when you’re not the person someone is angry at, it’s usually reasonable to avoid engaging with anger
- For instance, it’s ok if you don’t want people to vent to you when they’re angry at someone else or angry about politics
- And it’s ok to avoid watching angry movies or following angry blogs
- Or to block angry bloggers who trigger you, even if they’re good people who you respect
- Or to use tumblr savior or xkit to block tags etc that are mostly people being angry
- Or to decide not to spend time with people who get angry with you over minor things
- Or to decide not to spend time around people who are frequently angry or appear angry much of the time
- In particular, you might be better off not sharing living space with someone who gets angry a lot
I’m not sure what else to suggest. Do any of y’all have thoughts?