Coping with Flashbacks:

1. Tell yourself that you are having a flashback, and that you are safe now.

2. Remind yourself that the worst is over. The feelings and sensations you are experiencing are memories of the past. The actual event has already occurred and you survived.

3. Breathe. When we get scared we stop breathing normally. As a result, our body begins to panic from the lack of oxygen, which in itself causes a great deal of panic feelings; pounding in the head, tightness, sweating, feeling faint, shakiness, and dizziness. When we breathe deeply enough, the panic feeling can decrease. Breathing deeply means breathing in so that your diaphragm expands. If you were to put your hand on your stomach, your stomach would push against your hand when you inhale.

4. Get grounded. This means stamping your feet on the ground to remind yourself that you have feet and can get away now if you need to. (There may have been times before when you could not get away, now you can.) Being aware of all five senses can also help you ground yourself.

5. Reorient to the present. Begin to use your five senses in the present. Look around and see the colours in the room, the shapes of things, the people near, etc. Listen to the sounds in the room: your breathing, traffic, birds, people, cars, etc. Feel your body and what is touching it: your clothes, your own arms and hands, the chair, or the floor supporting you.

6. Get in touch with your need for boundaries. Sometimes when we are having a flashback we lose the sense of where we leave off and the world begins, as if we do not have skin. Wrap yourself in a blanket, hold a pillow or stuffed animal, go to bed, sit in a closet, any way that you can feel yourself truly protected from the outside.

7. Get support. Depending on your situation you may need to be alone or may want someone near you. In either case it is important that your close ones know about flashbacks so they can help with the process, whether that means letting you be by yourself or being there with you.

8. Take the time to recover. Flashbacks can be very powerful. Give yourself time to make the transition from this powerful experience. Don’t expect yourself to jump into other activities right away. Take a nap, a warm bath, or some quiet time. Be kind and gentle with yourself. Do not beat yourself up for having a flashback.

9. Honour your experience. Appreciate yourself for having survived that horrible time. Respect your body’s need to experience a full range of feelings.

10. Be patient. It takes time to heal. It takes time to learn appropriate ways of taking care of yourself and developing effective ways of coping in the here and now. - University of Alberta, Sexual Assault Centre

PSA: Disabled people’s vulnerabilities are not here for your entertainment.

As an autistic person, I spend a lot of time with social skills. I’d like to start off with some social skills that you may have learned in childhood. I’m betting that these are fairly non-controversial statements:

  • Do not pull a cat’s tail. That’s mean.
  • Do not kick dogs.
  • Do not slam the door on your pet’s tail.
  • Do not blow a high-pitched dog whistle loudly into a dog’s ear.
  • Always treat animals with kindness.

Now I’m going to say another social skill, which is apparently less important to some people:

  • You should treat disabled people with kindness.

Along the way, sometimes it gets forgotten or ignored that people like me also have thoughts and feelings. And people will treat actual humans far, far worse than they would treat an animal.

Hurting people is always wrong. Even if something doesn’t hurt you, if someone says it is painful to them, you need to stop it.

In praxis, this means:

  • Do not grab an autistic person from behind to make them wail. That’s mean.
  • Do not try to trigger unreality in a psychotic person. That’s mean.
  • Do not tell your dog to jump on someone with zoophobia, do not throw fake spiders at someone with arachnophobia, and do not show a graphic injury to someone who is terrified of blood. That’s mean.
  • Do not slam doors or fire guns to make someone with PTSD jump. That’s mean.
  • Do not show triggering pictures to someone with a mental illness, without warning them first, to make them cry or “get over it already.” That’s mean.
  • Do not mimic someone’s ticcing or try to make them do it more for your entertainment. That’s mean.
  • Do not upset someone on purpose, whether they are obviously disabled, secretly disabled, or not disabled. That’s mean.
  • Do respect other people’s pain. If they say that hurts, believe them. Don’t do it more to watch their reaction.

Some might say that this is the Thought Police trying to control you. It’s not illegal to think that it is fun to hurt people. You won’t be carted off to jail for intentionally making someone cry.

But people won’t trust you, any more than I’d trust an adult who pulls cats’ tails for fun. Because it’s a sure sign that you aren’t a decent human being.

And to the people who don’t do this: if you see someone else doing it, please ask them to knock it off. Bullies might not listen to disabled people, because they might not care what disabled people say. But they may listen to someone else. Please don’t let them keep tormenting their victim.

Please consider sharing this with your friends, to remind them how important it is to stand up to bullying, no matter what it looks like.

To my writing partners

This thankfully hasn’t really come up yet but I wanted to throw up a quick reminder to all of you that there is never any need to feel embarrassed, foolish, or “silly” for reacting strongly to a certain subject. 

If we are roleplaying something dark/sensitive/nsfw, which I may do because I like to cover a lot of subjects in my writing, please, please remember that you can back out at any time. Even if we are in the middle of writing the scene. Even if we’ve planned the scene way in advance. Maybe you thought you could handle a violent scene, but then when the moment actually came, it just really got to you. That’s ok. We’ll stop.

Your comfort is always more important to me than the story. 

We can time-skip the scene. We can do a different thread entirely, if that’s what you feel like you need. Communication is key to any relationship, and that includes between RP partners. 

On that note, if you read my roleplays and I haven’t tagged something that triggers you, please just send me a message. Even if it’s on anon. I’ll gladly make a new tag for it. 

Stay safe and have fun, buddies.

Something that really helps me when I get triggered is asking myself the following questions:

1. What just happened that triggered me?

2. What emotions am I feeling? 

3. (If you get an urge to use a behavior) Will using the behavior solve whatever problem/situation that just triggered me? (The answer is pretty much always no)

  • How will using a behavior make me feel afterward?
  • How will it affect the rest of my week?

4. What do I need right now?

  • Do I need comfort? A sense of control? Attention and acknowledgment? Affection? Reassurance? Safety? Support? An escape? To feel seen and heard? A way to quiet my negative thoughts? To have my feelings validated?

5. Is there a healthy, non self-destructive way I can get those needs met?

6. Is their a coping mechanism I can use right now to take care of myself?

  • Can I journal? Watch youtube videos or a movie to distract myself? Doodle or draw out my feelings? Color in a coloring book? Knit? Play with silly puddy or play doe? Cuddle with my cat? Curl up under my covers and listen to calming music? Rip paper or throw ice? Look at pictures online that make me smile and laugh? Go to sleep? Go on a walk? Write out a dialogue to challenge my negative thoughts? Take a bath? Light a candle? Meditate and do deep breathing?

7. Is there someone I can call/text/reach out to to get me through this?

  • (Maybe you could make a 911 list of phone numbers that you can use in the moment for support when you feel triggered)

8. Is there somewhere else I can go that will help me feel safe and calm myself down?

  • Your bed? The beach? A park you love? A bookstore? The house of a friend or family member? A coffee shop? Your favorite store? 

9. What would I tell a friend or loved one to do to take care of themselves/challenge the negative thoughts that are coming up, if they were in my position?

10. Have I been triggered by this before? 

  • What have I done in the past to cope that hasn’t worked?
  • What have I done in the past to cope that has worked?
  • Can I do whatever I did in the past that worked to take care of myself right now, in this moment?

It also might be helpful to develop your own self-care mantra.

Part of what makes triggers so uncomfortable and scary for me personally is that, in the moment, they feel like they’re going to last forever. But they don’t. They always pass eventually. That said, my mantra is about reminding myself that the painful feelings are going to pass. I usually say something to myself like:

  • “Breathe. You’re going to be okay. Keep breathing. Again and again. I know it hurts. I know you’re so uncomfortable. But you have to keep breathing. This will pass. Remember all of the times you’ve felt this way before and how each time, it eventually subsided and you found peace. Not immediately. Sometimes it took an hour or two hours or a few days or even a week, but the discomfort always passed in it’s own time. No is no different. You can get through this. Breathe. This will pass. I promise it will pass.”

I know that dealing with triggers can be so, so difficult, especially when they can’t be avoided. So if you try some of these things, or any sort of positive coping mechanism, and it doesn’t work, please, please don’t think that you’re a failure at recovery/healing. 

Taking care of yourself when you’ve been triggered is difficult and it takes time to get to a place where you can do it effectively. So be patient and compassionate with yourself through this process. You’re going to do the best you can to cope with painful situations and triggering people, and at the end of the day, that’s all you can ask of yourself. 

Your best is enough. And no matter how much you struggle with taking care of yourself and avoiding self-destructive thought-patterns and behaviors, you are enough.

Sending love,


Trolls and other people who like to make “triggered” jokes have actually made it so mentally ill people don’t feel like they can use the word for it’s actual purpose. You’ve literally taken terminology from mentally ill people, but keep talking about how we’re the ones who “ruined” it by tagging things you think are silly.

Triggers aren't always rational concepts

Sometimes people talk about triggers as though as though being triggered means having an extreme reaction to something that it’s perfectly normal for most people to find upsetting.

Some triggers are like that. A lot of them are not.

Triggers can be things that make no apparent sense at all from the outside. They can be anything. For instance, someone might find teddy bears triggering. Or being spoken to in a reassuring tone of voice. Or a certain song. Or wearing a t-shirt.

They are not necessarily about concepts.

Having trauma-related triggers does not necessarily mean that someone will have an unusual amount of difficulty discussing upsetting topics.

Discussing the concept of abuse or the particular kind of trauma they experienced *might* be triggering, but it might not be.

For instance, someone might be triggered by the smell of popcorn, but comfortable discussing abuse and abuse prevention policy. Or any number of other combinations.

Knowing that someone has experienced trauma doesn’t mean that you know anything else about them. Not everyone who has experienced trauma gets triggered. People who do get triggered, get triggered by a range of different things. You generally are not going to be in a position to know this kind of thing about someone else unless they tell you.

tl;dr Trauma-related triggers can be just about anything. They’re not necessarily conceptually related to difficult or politically charged topics. Some people who have triggers aren’t triggered by discussing the relevant concepts, but are triggered by otherwise-innocuous things they associate with their experiences. Trauma can be complicated and doesn’t always fit with the prevailing cultural narrative.

How to Cope with Flashbacks

Flashbacks are memories of past traumas. They can occur in a number of different forms – as sounds, images, smells, body sensations, numbness (or a lack of sensations). Often they’re accompanied by a feeling panic, where the individual feels trapped and completely powerless. Flashbacks can also occur in dreams. Because the sensations are so frightening and intense – and are unrelated to what’s happening in the present - the person often feels as if they’re going crazy. What to do to cope with flashback:

1. Tell yourself that you are having a flashback – that it will pass in time – and soon everything will return to normal.

2. Remind yourself that the worst is over – as these terrifying feelings are re-experienced memories. The event that took place is now lodged in the past, and you managed to survive it, and will survive it now.

3. Allow yourself to express the powerful feelings of terror, panic, hurt and/or rage. It is right that you honour your experience.

4. Ground yourself firmly in the here-and-now. Breathe deeply. Notice the sounds and sensations around you in the room. Allow the feelings of panic and terror to slowly dissipate. Keep breathing deeply, and exhaling deliberately. Allow a sense of calm to gradually replace the faintness, shakiness, dizziness and tightness.

5. Reorient yourself. Keep focusing on what you can see, hear, feel, smell, touch and feel in the present. Feel the chair supporting you. Use your five senses to bring you back to this point in time.

6. Speak to your terrified inner child. Reassure them that they are going to be OK. Tell them they are safe in the present. They are not trapped. They can escape at any time.

7. Seek professional support to deal with your flashbacks. Find an experienced therapist who is trained to guide you to a place of healing. You do not have to do cope with this alone. There is help available for you.

Dark Souls 1: More on Quelaana’s Spawning Trigger

Over a year ago I made a post which demonstrated the known triggers for spawning Quelaana:

The tl;dr was that:

  • She will appear if you have a +10 Pyromancy Flame or higher
  • She will appear if another player (invader or co-op summon) enters your world while in Blighttown, and they have a +10 Pyromancy Flame or higher

There was a lot of speculation about other possible triggers, but I tested a lot of different things and nothing else ever worked. This made me pretty confident that confusion over summoned/ invading phantoms having the Pyro Flame on them explained most instances where people wondered why she showed up.

But since then, reports of doing neither of the above and still being able to see Queelana have been slowly building up. A recent reddit topic pointed me in the right direction, where someone noted that while they weren’t invaded in Blighttown, they were invaded in The Depths.

Earlier testing I had done made me think that encountering phantoms outside of Blighttown wouldn’t be sufficient, because I tested that in The Burg and Anor Londo, and that didn’t work. But then I realized, maybe the Depths invasion worked because it’s near Blighttown. And as it turns out, that is correct.

To understand why that works, it’s helpful if we take a look at how neighboring areas “queue” or “pre-load”. Here’s a screenshot of me standing in the middle of New Londo Ruins:

You can see a submenu in this debug menu titled m16_00_00_00, which is the New Londo Ruins map. It contains a list of all enemy characters/models that exist in New Londo Ruins, which makes sense because I’m currently in that level. You also don’t see any other maps listed out here, you only see m16.

But what happens when you approach the beginning of New Londo Ruins, bringing you closer to the Valley of Drakes? The map data for Blighttown, m14_000_00_00, appears.

Even though these other maps aren’t fully rendered at this stage, the game is at least “acknowledging” the existence of the creatures that can load in those areas. So as it turns out, phantoms entering your game (with the sufficiently upgraded Pyro Flame) will still unlock Queelana in your game, as long as you’re in Blighttown, or near Blighttown, in one of these neighboring transition areas.

These areas include:

  • The opening area of New Londo Ruins
  • Almost the entirety of The Depths
  • The Demon Firesage boss room

So we can now add three more areas to our list of places where multiplayer activity can potentially spawn Quelaana for you. I’m hoping this ties up all the loose ends of this mysterious trigger. Unless reports still come rolling in of people still seeing her without any of the above happening, I think we’ve finally got this nailed down. I’m not expecting any additional triggers not related to the +10 Pyro Flame.

Special thanks to  certa_sprezzatura for their recent inquiry on reddit, and Liberty Prime for helping me confirm this by invading me in the above locations.

The new ‘Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared’ came out, and I figured that I would jot down the major triggers for y'all.

Unreality/disassociation trigger - more so than the previous ones, its a major theme.

Flashing lights - about a 30 second scene in the middle.

Loud/jarring noises - all throughout.

Jump scare-ish things - again, all throughout. Related to the loud noises and lights.

Repetition - several instances of phrase repetition for 15+ seconds. Pretty intense, I normally do not have a problem with this and I felt uneasy.

I think those are the major ones. If you could spread this around, that would be awesome. Also, if you want to ask about a specific trigger, send me an ask and I will get back to you when I wake up.

But I’m going to take it one step further to say this: you don’t need to be triggered by something, or experience strong negative reactions to it, in order to have the right to set boundaries around it.

I say this for three reasons. One is that if we set thresholds for “acceptable” boundaries, then we’ll be effectively forcing people to out themselves as abuse survivors or mental illness sufferers or whatever in order to be able to set their boundaries. That’s not okay with me.

The second is that many people–especially marginalized people–are often not immediately aware of the harm that something (or someone) is doing to them. That’s because we’re taught to ignore our own feelings and treat them as invalid until “proven” by the “evidence.” Sometimes all we really get–if anything–is a vague sense of unease that we’re tempted to immediately dismiss as “not a big deal.” No, don’t dismiss it. Listen to that unease. Act on it. Set the boundary. You can always unset it later if you decide it really isn’t a big deal. It’s much easier to walk back a boundary than it is to set one after years of putting up with something that’s hurting you.

The third reason is that I believe in giving people agency over their own space, physical and mental. I think people should be able to decide what is and is not okay for them. I think that if we start treating all boundaries as valid, we might start to make a serious dent in rape culture, because right now, one of the ways in which rape culture operates is by requiring people to justify their boundaries before those boundaries will be respected–and if the justification doesn’t satisfy someone, they feel free to violate the boundary. How often have I set a boundary only to be told, “Well, that doesn’t make any sense so I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing”? Disturbingly often.

Boundary Setting vs Tone Policing - Brute Reason

New piece! Also, my blog’s URL changed because I started (and moved to) a new website. I keep meaning to make a post about that…

Being wary of women isn't always misogyny

It’s completely normal for people who have had traumatic experiences with women to be wary of women. Or to have triggers related to women.

For instance, some people can’t tolerate being touched by women. Or don’t feel safe with female therapists. Or feel safer around men than women in general. Or need activities they participate in to be co-ed rather than single-gender. Or any number of other things.

Sometimes people with those kinds of trauma responses are told that they’re being misogynistic, or that they have internalized misogyny. And that’s wrong. Having a completely normal trauma response is *not* sexism, and it’s not a moral failing of any kind.

(It would be sexist to think that women are inferior, or inherently incapable of treating people well, or something like that. Being wary of women as a trauma response is *not* the same as thinking that kind of thing.)

tl;dr Trauma is not a moral failing, even when your trauma responses are politically inconvenient. If you have been hurt by women and have trauma responses to women, it’s not your fault and it’s ok to take care of yourself.