PTSD & TRIGGERS: Reliving the crap all over and over again

Just a quick glimpse at a man’s hands with dirty fingernails is my worst trigger, followed by a flashback.  Seems whacky, doesn’t it?

Bad memories of the traumatic event can come back at any time.  You may feel the same fear and horror you did when the event took place.  You may feel like you’re going through the event again.  This is called a flashback. Sometimes there is a trigger: a sound or sight that causes you to relive the event.  Triggers might include:

  • Hearing a car backfire, which can bring back memories of gunfire and war for a combat veteran.
  • Seeing a car accident, which can remind a crash survivor of his or her own accident.
  • Seeing a news report of a sexual assault, which may bring back memories of assault for a woman who was raped.    Source:

The explanation for my trigger stems from childhood sexual abuse by a neighbour.  He was forever underneath the hood of his car, working endlessly on I don’t know what, but all I can recall is he had dirty hands, and filthy black, greasy fingernails.  Therefore, to this day, if my eyes catch a glimpse of this sight anywhere, in a split second I am six years old again being raped.

I’ve spent years in psychotherapy focussing on PTSD for with my childhood sexual abuse, and each time I believe I have a control of it, with flashbacks and nightmares not interfering in my everyday life, up pops the dreaded triggers followed by flashbacks.

The good news is, I recover much quicker than I used to, however, reliving this shit continually still takes its toll.  Amazing how the mind works when your soul is broken, yet I’ve learned to cope.  For all of you out there, accept that it’s friggin’ tough, and don’t forget to shout to those people who say “just get over it”, with your response, “just walk a mile in my shoes for once”.



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I am a Mental Health Advocate for mental illness Stigma. In 2007, I created the "Living in Stigma" blog, with the purpose and anticipation of educating people about mental illness. Depression is part of this illness, which intertwines with those struggling with PTSD, chronic pain, and other invisible illnesses. I am a chronic migraine sufferer myself, and a sexual and emotional abuse survivor. My passions are writing, poetry, and art. All abuse Survivors are also Warriors.

6 thoughts on “PTSD & TRIGGERS: Reliving the crap all over and over again”

  1. Thanks for your honesty and courage. My flashbacks lead to dissociation. I find myself miles away, no jacket, barefoot, shivering on a bench, or carrying groceries I don’t remember buying. Many people don’t get it. My mother will actually pull out her smartphone and read me news stories about children sexually abused. I sometimes run out of her apt. Later she apologizes for “forgetting”.


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