cause and trigger



The word "trigger" is used a lot in association with eating disorders.

Patients tend - and are often trained - to identify the trigger for their illness. Divorced parents, moving across country, competitive school, bullying.

It seems to me that triggers are not very important if the illness can be triggered by anything from watching a TV show to surviving the Holocaust - if you have a certain genetic predisposition. What we call triggers are what I believe they call in the law "proximate cause." Life is a trigger, and the real question we should be asking is "what is the best trigger lock?"

Was it SuperSizeMe, or was that person's brain simply waiting for the next sensationalist media food experience? Was it the bullying or was that the greatest source of genuine stress at a time the brain was primed to begin the disease process if stress happened?Was it training for the race, or was this person attracted to track because her brain was looking for a way to express its underlying illness?

I have often wondered what we'd do if we discovered that eating disorders often started on Mondays. Would we create a six day week? Would we castigate society for relaxing too much on weekends?

Comments

  1. I wouldn't be surprised if people with a certain genetic predisposition who go on a "diet" and become undernourished become especially vulnerable to "triggers" that otherwise wouldn't make them ill. The best defense is to build up their nutritional reserves -- their resistance -- rather than waste our time fruitlessly trying to rid the world of everything that might be a trigger.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've never been a fan of Mondays.

    ReplyDelete
  3. And yet I do think that learning your particular triggers are important. Some of these triggers are going to be similar for most people with EDs: skipping meals, not eating a good balance of carbs, proteins, and fats, and so on. For me, anxiety is a massive trigger. I get anxious, I get nauseous, and I lose my appetite. Then, see above. Which is why I have a bunch of tummy-friendly recipes on hand to get me through the bump until I'm feeling more stable.

    This kind of understanding isn't necessary to begin refeeding and recovery. In fact, it's kind of pointless because you can't understand it (and use the information) while you're malnourished. But it IS ultimately crucial to maintaining recovery.

    And the elimination of Mondays would also help. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Carrie,

    Now, that's interesting. I didn't think of those things as triggers. I think of people being "triggered" by mention of weights and movies about weight and people's talking about diets, and living at home, and holidays, and certain people... that kind of stuff.

    But maybe we all use the word trigger slightly differently.

    I agree with you on the things you mention as triggers - mechanistic thing that I am!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have a genetic predisposition to being short. It doesn't mean I can't wear heels to increase my height by a few inches.

    Even if one has a genetic predisposition to an eating disorder, it doesn't mean you have to resign yourself to the disorder. Genetics might have made it more likely that you developed the disorder, but you have the choice to decide how you will manage it. I think many eating disordered patients come to use their triggers as a crutch -- "Oh, I couldn't help myself from purging. My trigger made me do it." Bullshit. Triggers can be incredibly powerful, yes, but we are not powerless over them. I think we all need to learn to recognize our own personal triggers and then either avoid them or learn how to manage them in a healthy and constructive manner.

    We can't change culture, unfortunately, but we can change ourselves and the ways in which we see and react to the world at large.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I like the neat little package of "destiny or karma" to describe ones genetic predisposition.
    If your genetic predisposition is for an ed, the triggers can be as varied as breakfast cereals, but it's knowing which one will ignite an emotional response and how to control or retrain the emotions, that's the key.
    As for Mondays...I do like the idea of three day weekend, allows for self nurturing time.

    ReplyDelete
  7. The trigger for me was a moment...when i tried on a pair of pants and the button popped right off. Now its two years later i weigh 108 lbs (20 lbs underweight) and those pants look like they belong to Dick Cheney.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Even if one has a genetic predisposition to an eating disorder, it doesn't mean you have to resign yourself to the disorder. Genetics might have made it more likely that you developed the disorder, but you have the choice to decide how you will manage it. I think many eating disordered patients come to use their triggers as a crutch -- "Oh, I couldn't help myself from purging. My trigger made me do it." Bullshit. Triggers can be incredibly powerful, yes, but we are not powerless over them.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Too true. And having exerted that power, we grow stronger.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Julia,

    You're absolutely right. Moreso, I don't think sufferers can *learn to manage* these triggers until they are nutritionally rehabilitated. But managing them is a HUGE part of recovery.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Today is my lucky day :)
    Apple is giving review copies of iPad to 100 lucky person. Go to http://bit.ly/d9QOON and apply for it.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular Posts