Tomorrow I have an appointment with a dentist. I’m not phobic about dentists, but I do find it incredibly triggering, which, for me, is much much worse than any phobia.
Positive Outcomes for Dissociative Survivors (PODS) describe triggers much better than I ever could:
A flashback can often be caused by a ‘trigger’, which is a current-day reminder (either at a conscious or unconscious level) of something traumatic from the past. A trigger could be a sight, a sound, a taste, a smell, a touch, a situation, a location, even a body movement. There is almost an instant catapulting back into the sensation or feelings of the past which is highly distressing and can happen quite spontaneously.
Everything about a dentist is triggering for me, and there is no way I can avoid them all. Pain (specifically toothache, first discussed here) has driven me to the dentist, I have no choice but to get my broken tooth looked at and probably extracted.
The sights, sounds, smells, words, touch, movements, are all off the scale in terms of triggers. I can neither fight nor flight, although running away seems increasingly appealing. As when I went to the doctors (see here) I must get through it, and will probably only be able to do that by shutting down, dissociating almost, and relying on my CPN to speak for me, to guide me, to protect me.
I know how to ground myself, but my ability to do so decreases as the triggers increase. Even after I left the doctors, I was flooded with flashbacks, head noise and a need to fight for some time afterwards. I expect tomorrow to be as bad, if not worse. But K isn’t home until 7pm so I can take the time I need, and I only have to make it to Thursday when I can offload the images and the noise onto my psych. Until then, I must attempt to stay grounded, or at least as grounded as I can manage.