Friday, 24 February 2012

Toilet trigger

There are many issues I’ve had to work through, some of which I’m still challenged with today. I’ve found it useful if I can analyze why I feel certain emotions in different situations and the triggers that can cause my mood to change so quickly.

In a previous post, I wrote about the fact that bathrooms are a huge trigger. To recap, as a child I’d frequently be on the toilet and the abuser would be outside the door trying to come in (my cousin would often be in the room with me, holding the door). Bathrooms have been a challenge but I’ve found a few ways to make it easier, such as: leaving the bathroom door open when at home or only using toilets I’ve used before and feel comfortable with.

My biggest challenge has probably been here in China, where I live. The toilets here are often dirty, squat toilets and, in schools, they rarely have a door. I’ve visited many schools around China for my job and if I need to use the bathroom, I don’t know what to expect until I get there. A recent experience was quite challenging and I felt rather awkward. The toilets at one school were outdoors, so while I was waiting outside the door I, of course , stood out like a sore thumb as I was the only ‘laowei’ (foreigner) at the school. Many children were walking past giggling or staring, which didn’t help matters. The ‘toilet’ itself was a trough, full of excrement, dirt and flies. It was quite horrific and unfortunately I was triggered, mainly because the trough reminded me of a cattle shed, which reminded me of the farm where I was abused years ago. In a way I was thankful that my colleague was next door to me, she was chatting away but I don’t think I heard a thing that she said. As we walked towards the car, I tried my best to snap out of it. I was fortunate that in the car, they mainly spoke Chinese so I was able to slowly ‘come back to earth’ without looking too strange I hope.

After that incident, I decided to drink less water during the day in order to reduce my urge for the toilet. I would then rehydrate in the afternoon and evening. It felt like the only option I had if I didn’t want to be triggered and find myself dissociating while at work.

While I can make myself comfortable a lot of the time and choose where I go to the toilet, there are times when I have no choice but to use what is available. I’ve come a long way and have found some solutions but unfortunately I think toilets will always be a trigger.