Why My Brain Sucks 4

Two words keep coming at me: Graduate. School.

There have been a few professors who have mentioned it to me several times because they think I could do well. A provost even suggested that as the next step after the research competition award reception. So many people I started the program with are graduating, and I know some of them are going to attend graduate school.

It seems like a commonsense thought, so why is it the focus of the fourth installment in my Why My Brain Sucks series?

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What it REALLY Means to be “Triggered”

If you’ve been on the Internet for any amount of time, chances are you have encountered the word “triggered,” or have seen a “trigger warning.” It became a meme, but as many things often unfortunately do, it was then turned into a disqualifying phrase. To say someone has been “triggered” has been synonymous with calling someone overemotional, their responses overdone, and designating what they have to say as less-than because they responded in a certain way. It has also been used to mean someone strongly disagrees with a stance. I have seen this most often used against the discussion of social issues, namely feminism. Because of course, “overemotional” responses can be disqualified as valid right out of the gate, right?

As someone who has struggled with mental illness–as well as someone who has known sufferers of mental illnesses–I started using this word about six or seven years ago, and it wasn’t meant to disqualify a position or a person. Me and other sufferers I’ve known have used it to alert someone to our mental state, which could mean the difference between a good mental day and a bad mental day. It could even go unsaid verbally, but there would often be clear nonverbal signals that let other people know, “I’m not okay.” Likewise, “trigger warnings” have been used to alert people with certain stressors to avoid content in order to not experience undesired symptoms.

But don’t just take my word for it. Let’s take a look around, shall we?

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Why My Brain Sucks 3

Tomorrow is the research competition, and I’m hardly excited about it. This sucks because not only is this my first time participating in something like this, but it is also my sponsor’s first time participating in that role. He puts a lot of stock into my ability to give a great presentation tomorrow, and I can’t help but think someone else should be doing this instead of me.

My suit is hanging out so I don’t forget that’s what I’m putting on tomorrow morning, and I’m about to put the finishing touches on my presentation. However, there is only a hint of nerves. Everything else is a dark hole in my head where excitement usually comes from. Other people might think I’m being really calm despite the circumstances, when the truth is that I don’t want to be. I’d welcome those emotions, because they’re normal.

I have exercised caution in telling even the closest of friends about my darker days. I don’t want to mar whatever positive image they have of me inside their head. It could be considered a dishonest thing to do, but can anyone blame me for wanting them to feel okay, even when I can’t muster it? I say this because I opened up to someone, and I fear I’ve lost them. This could be real, or could just be my stupid head talking, but either way I do feel like they’re gone. Even if this person told me everything was fine, I would have to disagree–things don’t feel like any semblance of okay.

There is an abyss in my head where thoughts and emotions should sprout from. A chunk of my chest has been cored out and hidden from me, and the absence is most definitely felt. I feel like less than half a person today, sitting in a classroom full of people who were really super happy. The guy next to me even remarked on it, and then noticed I didn’t exactly blend in. He didn’t ask further, because maybe he sensed I didn’t want to chat about it. It could have also been the fact that class was starting, but either way, it was one of those moments when I felt like I really didn’t fit in.

I’ve started to feel like I shouldn’t have been in certain places, doing certain things. Nothing illegal, mind you—sitting on the bus yesterday morning, talking to people at school, other such daily activities people don’t normally think twice about. It’s like I made a last minute decision and everything somehow feels wrong. All the while, life goes on around me, and no one knows the storm brewing inside me.