Just to be clear, for those of you who have yet to watch the movie, this post will contain spoilers! Along with that, I do want to note how desensitized the word "triggered" has become in association with how our culture has transformed. In this post, I mean to use it in the most serious of terms. I hope this article comforts those who have had similar experiences with media triggers and trauma.
I watched "A Star is Born" right after I had found out a good friend and co-worker of mine had committed suicide. I wasn't expecting to hear this news...I was in shock for weeks, maybe even months. I went to my shifts at work — shifts we had originally worked together, and felt a pang of emptiness. We weren't that close but now I think about him every day. This month marks a year since he left us and a year since I first watched the movie with my family. I really didn't know what to expect. I barely knew the plot of the movie, just that Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper were love interests. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and have watched it since, but it definitely came at the wrong time for me.
Jackson Maine's suicide was a huge shock. I felt everything so deeply. I felt like I couldn't shake the feeling even after we left. I didn't want to sleep alone with the thoughts that were going through my mind. I felt anxious and paranoid, I didn't want to be alone. I started to not trust people. Like a toddler acting out when their mother leaves, I became paranoid when people left me. I feared I would never see them again. I lost so much sleep over it. This is also not the first time I have experienced loss involving suicide. I won't go into detail out of respect for my former classmates and friends who struggle with that particular loss, but that moment of my life has stuck with me.
It's an unnatural feeling to register and work through.
This movie triggered a raw feeling in me that reminded me how much power film and other art forms can have on our emotions.
Having these reactions does not make you a weak person.
It only reflects your empathetic nature, which is a rare thing to possess. A friend always reminds me that the longer we ignore the problem, the bigger it becomes. I wanted to acknowledge my trauma so I can heal. I'm getting better every day, learning how to respond to these triggers in a healthy way. I know my limits and surround myself with people who are sensitive to my trauma. I think that is the most important part, making yourself vulnerable to your friends and family. Gaga and Cooper did a wonderful job bringing out raw feelings of grief, and it truly resonates within me. I find it comforting to look back on this experience and see how far I have come from it, leaving me a stronger and more empathetic person.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255