A Cautionary Note

On websites and blogs that deal with the subject matter of mental illness and/or abuse, it seems customary to include a TRIGGER WARNING at the start of any page or piece that someone who could be sensitive to its content might wish to avoid.

I have thought long and hard about whether to include trigger warnings on my blog posts, and if so, when to include them. The conclusion I’ve come to is that overall they are not necessary for the material I’m sharing here, but this page explaining my decision is.

I’ve known people – myself included – who have found these warnings valuable signposts of what to stay away from reading or watching, either at times when they are feeling vulnerable, or altogether.

I’ve known people – myself included – whose triggers are very diverse and specific, and who have found articles with a trigger warning not to contain anything that triggers them personally and, moreover, articles with no trigger warning (or obvious need for one) to be extremely disturbing.

I’ve known people – myself included – who have at times been insulted by trigger warnings, worrying that they suggest readers could be so unstable as to be liable to have a nervous breakdown as a result of reading a news article. The idea of trigger warnings may seem to imply that trauma switches on and off, whereas the reality of living with these experiences is continuous. While I’ve often appreciated an article or website giving me the choice to protect myself, no such option is possible in day-to-day experience of living with trauma or mental illness.

I’ve known people – myself included – who worry that trigger warnings might add to the fear that these issues are ‘unspeakable’, and act as a barrier to more open discussion, causing people to worry overly about saying the wrong thing.

I’ve known people – myself included – who have actively sought out triggers, either for research when writing a memoir, or more likely when engaging in self-harming or self-destructive behaviour.

It is my hope that anyone visiting this website knows or will find out quickly that the subject matter dealt with here includes eating disorders and sexual abuse. This website supports a book about the same issues, which itself carries no trigger warning other than a blurb which vaguely states the subject matter a reader will find within. I will never disclose here what I deem to be the most triggering kind of material: specific details about my weight or food intake at any point during my illness, or any specific details of my experience of sexual abuse.

What you will find on this website is ongoing open discussion of eating disorders and sexual abuse, recovery, and the process of translating that experience into a graphic memoir. I can never know which parts of that discussion might be triggering and to whom, and worrying about that could have me marking everything I write as a potential trigger.

Instead I have chosen to mark nothing, and write this.

If you know that you could potentially be affected by the kind of things I’m discussing on this blog, I ask you to please proceed with caution and, even though I know how hard it can be, please look after yourself.