. . . while I know that I am responsible for my own media consumption, for policing what I can and cannot consume lest it set off a bomb in my brain (thank you, mental illness), while I never hold anyone else responsible for the task of policing my media and keeping me safe, it’s exhausting.
It’s also isolating.
So, hi, I’m gonna talk about something that frequently gets skipped over in the debate about trigger warnings, and that is how much fucking work those of us who have triggers–especially those like me who have a shittily unfair number of them thanks to craptastic life experiences–have to put into policing our own media. And how hard that job can be. And, also, how unfair it is to tell us “just don’t watch/read that!” if we DO consume something that winds up being triggering.
Because here’s the thing: when you have triggers, you have to be careful of every single piece of new media. You have to look up spoilers, or ask friends who’ve already seen/read the thing if it’s safe territory for you. You have to avoid outings with friends to the theatre unless you’ve researched ahead of time, you have to decline starting a new TV series or watching an old film you haven’t researched if you’re staying in, and, if you’re as sensitive as I am, there are some topics and media that can’t even be talked about, never mind consumed.
Over time, you stop watching trailers. You stop reading about new media coming out. Chances are, you won’t be able to enjoy it anyway–not with how dark, gorey, rapey, dystopian, and all-around angsty mainstream media has gotten in the last several years.
And, I get it. Fiction is the safe place to explore the things that scare and fascinate and haunt us. But when you’ve already lived through horrors, large or small, that exploration ceases to be entertainment. Some things are only fun to read/watch if you’ve never had to live through them.
So, yeah. Sometimes, that means we read or watch something we shouldn’t, or regret. Because we’re tired of always saying “no”, of putting in the time to research, of having to avoid common social activities for the sake of our mental health. Because we think that, hey, if my best friend likes it, I probably will too, this should be fine. Because we’re tired of trying to dig for “safe” media to consume, because maybe we want to feel normal, just this once.
So, no–I don’t expect anyone to police my media consumption for me. But I do wish that there was more media I could enjoy without risking my sanity, because entertainment is everywhere and is a common topic people bond over. Because it stings, just a little, every time someone mentions a TV or book series, a movie they have watched and loved, and I can’t discuss it with them, can’t let them share that love with me; every time someone asks “Have you seen [y]?” and I tell them, “Just assume I haven’t seen anything you’re talking about.” Because it’s one more obstacle my mental illness creates for me, one more barrier between me and finding positive common ground with the people I care about.
I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.