Got Patience? inspiration positive words
rly cool thing to do: train yourself to have they/them be your reflexive go-to pronoun
I did my research before writing In Sickness and in Health where Optimus is dealing with mental health issues and triggers. You see hints of it in You Don’t Need Wings, which is set before In Sickness and in Health…
Today hadn’t been much fun for either of them. Cade spent a better part of the morning finding and replacing a leaky coolant tube inside Optimus’ head. All the tinkering restored the hearing in that “ear” as well. Double bonus. Then Optimus mentioned his coolant being contaminated with dirt and the only cure was to empty it out and refill. In the meantime, rewiring his weapons systems became a nightmare in itself. Optimus kept blanking out and going quiet. That left Cade dangling precariously underneath his power core while working on the most complex motherboard he’d ever seen in his life. Despite the hang-ups, he got the job done and Optimus had access to his targeting systems again.
And a more obvious instance…
"How about we clean up the shrapnel inside your chest?"
Optimus silently opened the battered plates guarding everything between his abdomen and neck. Just that act alone released a small torrent of debris. The rest appeared caught among a network of fine, clear wires resembling fiber-optic cables. Behind them, smack in the middle, his spherical power core flickered with blue-white light. It appeared held in place by six orange wires bundled on each side. The glow turned briefly orange-yellow whenever a piece of debris touched the delicate see-through cords.
"Whoa," Cade whispered, "That’s a lot of wiring to get through."
"Neural lines," said Optimus. "They relay sensation."
"Gotcha," Cade replied. He lightly touched the end of a severed one hanging loose. "Looks like someone tried to cut a few."
Optimus flinched noticeably, the glow in his chest flashing nearly red.
"Be careful!" he snapped, "That hurts!”
"Oops, sorry!" Beads of sweat formed on Cade’s forehead. He wiped them off. "What if I moved them out of the way before I worked? Will that hurt anything?"
Optimus’ eyelids— or what passed for them— fell half-shut. “It is common practice for medics to do so before performing field repairs. Leave the broken ones as they are. You do not have the technology to mend them.”
"Right. Okay. One sec, then, I think I’ve got something that’ll keep ‘em out of the way."
Cade climbed down and rummaged for his box of C-clamps. Grabbing the biggest two he owned, he pushed the ladder closer to Optimus and hopped up the steps. “Let’s hook them to these, how’s that?”
Optimus wordlessly gathered the glistening neural cables. He held them together until Cade secured the C-clamps to the inner edges of his chest plates. Now he could really see the chunks of metal and bullets caught among the thick cables and armor surrounding Optimus’ power core. As for the core itself, it had several scratches and one small dent. Someone must have tried to pry the central slit open.
Cade reached for the first hunk of metal caught in the wires. The power core kept twinkling faster until it nearly gave off a steady, bright glow. He spared a glance at Optimus’ face. The robot’s optics were at their smallest aperture and staring off into space. Cade could just make out their dim flickering.
"Optimus? You okay there?"
Suddenly, Optimus blinked and jerked backwards. Cade slid down the ladder just before it was kicked over.
"Whoa! Hey! Easy!" Cade raised both hands. "Easy. I’m not trying to hurt you."
For a beat, the only sound was the swinging chain disturbed by Optimus’ sudden movement.
"Something must have shifted. I felt a jolt of pain." Optimus replied flatly.
"Sorry…is it the clamps?"
"No." Optimus righted the downed ladder and knelt next to it. "Your bare hands may not be up for the task. Perhaps those…if I may? I would prefer to remove what I can first."
Cade’s eyes roved towards the assorted blacksmithing tongs Optimus pointed to. He went for the flat blank bit set, which resembled two-foot-long needle nose pliers.
For Optimus, the tongs might as well have been pliers.
—from “You Don’t Need Wings”
For the most part, Optimus seems totally asymptomatic at a glance. And he pretty much is, until triggers hit or he has a cruddy day where the negative thoughts creep past his ability to mentally ignore them. Then he’ll be a little grumpy or down.
Optimus’ triggers were/are:
hands near his Spark (mostly over it), callused hands, crowbars, movie theaters and (saddest of all) sexual pleasure can sometimes do it too. So we have the setting, an object used during the assault and the body parts used.
What happens when Optimus gets triggered is the data track of the incident opens and takes over his sense of reality. He’ll believe he can’t move and feels the pain in his chest he felt when the Cemetery Wind soldier tried to pry his Spark chamber open with a crow bar. The reason the assault is of a sexual nature in Optimus’ case is because their Spark chamber is basically as private to them as a vulva or penis is to us, so to touch it without his permission is basically violating him. The soldier didn’t know he was committing this act— he was trying to rip the chamber out of Optimus’ body and totally unaware of the sensations related to the jerking and tugging. The soldier had calluses on his hands.
And Optimus, poor Optimus was confused by his own body’s reaction and simply froze. His scrambled circuits finally overloaded because of all the movement— that’s pretty much a complete bodily betrayal right there. He thought he’d inadvertently cheated on Mikaela(she convinced him he didn’t do anything wrong). He was severely injured and couldn’t transform. Hell, he couldn’t even see at the time. Let’s just say it was really fricken traumatic to him and going into stasis right after triggered his mental illness. The assault happened in the theater where Cade found him in AOE. (HEADCANON ALERT) His violent awakening in AOE is him screaming at the soldier that violated him.
Mikaela can talk him through and out of flashbacks by convincing him to move, which breaks the logic of the flashback and forces the data track to close.
Another issue Optimus deals with constantly are those nasty intrusive thoughts, which he tries to counter by writing something opposite to what he’s thinking in a notebook. He could be having the time of his life, smiling and dancing with Mikaela, meanwhile his mind is telling him you were weak, you could have stopped it, you deserved it, you aren’t a Prime, you let it happen, you don’t deserve her love, you can’t protect her, it’s your fault, you are tainted… He can ignore them to a point, though eventually he has to get the notebook out to shut those thoughts up.
He has nightmares, where data tracks open* while he’s in recharge and the wake up protocols also trip, which makes him think he’s awake when he’s really acting out a memory. Those are harder because you can’t wake him UP, you can only wait for it to end or convince him it’s a data track, which knocks him back into a deeper state of recharge. FORTUNATELY, his weapons systems will not activate when he isn’t fully conscious— it’s a failsafe so nobody can be hacked while they’re “sleeping” and it ends up being a blessing.
*His version of dreaming involves random data tracks opening as his memory banks are consolidating and compressing everything. While he doesn’t dream of illogical things like zebras with bow ties or flying toilets, he does relive memories that aren’t always pleasant. Usually he’s aware it’s a data track since it’s in his version of “light sleep” and our equivalent to REM sleep. You’ll see his optics flickering if it’s dark enough.
The deepest stage of recharge is defragmentation(our equivalent to slow wave/deep sleep), where his memory banks arrange everything in neat order to be compressed and consolidated. He’ll defragment for five minutes, compress and consolidate for ten, then defragment again. Back and forth until everything is in tip-top shape.
If he scans a new vehicle, he goes to an even lighter scanning stage where his body learns all its components. Not entirely necessary, but it makes transforming a smoother and faster process.
Optimus is facing a serious mental illness and Mikaela is helping him every way she can. <3 I never, ever play his triggers up for comedy because they are NOT funny to HIM.
people who complain about trigger warnings and harass folks over them because “they’re not legitimate enough”…aside from the fact that you know nothing about psychology and trauma and shit, well, how are trigger warnings hurting you? are u rly that offended over someone tagging a post with “yellow tw” or “food for ts.” are u rly
I have this mental image of Mikaela coming home from work and finding Optimus’ bot holo recharging on the couch. But no, no, not in a dignified pose, no.
He’s on his stomach, hands folded on the arm of the couch and his chin resting on his hands. His legs are stretched out behind him. He basically looks like a lion taking a nap while hogging up the entire couch.
ETA: Optimus’ bot holo in Danceverse is 6’6” tall, measuring from the top of his ear finials to the floor.
breathe via @angela4 inspiration positive words