HTBS and Tuesday

Today is a day in which I deviate from my normal happy posts about jam and the like. Today, is a day for a public service announcement. Today is a Tuesday. Today is a Tuesday when drinking a glass of sparkling wine after work and writing my thoughts is a great combination.


Today is a day which I explain the term HTBS. The term was coined by my sister Rachel. Or rather, by my brother-in-law Scott (in secret, the reasons for which will become apparent immediately).

HTBS = Hair-Trigger Bitch Syndrome

A syndrome that is reflected in split second (or hair-trigger) negative changes in mood or response. The syndrome is typically experienced by women, but some men are impacted as well. The syndrome can result in an undesirable experience for a spouse, partner, child, friend, family member, co-worker, or even a person walking too slow and taking up a WHOLE aisle with a big cart in the grocery store.

Symptoms of HTBS include general crankiness which is exacerbated by “the littlest thing”. Once the person with HTBS is triggered, others are immediately impacted. The person who experiences the greatest impact may not be the person who is the closest in physical proximity to the person with HTBS. Anyone in the building or accessible by alternative means of communication (i.e., phone, text, email, distant gesture) may also be affected.

The person with HTBS feels like they “are on their last nerve”. People with HTBS often describe feelings of general irritation which can be immediately heightened by catastrophic proportions by a nearby person’s words, body language and/or ability to draw breath. Some examples of triggers for someone with HTBS include:

  • The sound of adjusting a pillow on the couch while watching a movie
  • Being the person close in physical distance
  • Doing something previously requested with a pleasant attitude (e.g., taking out the garbage)
  • Performing a kind gesture or act for someone with HTBS
  • Looking in the general direction of someone with HTBS
  • Eating chips or carrots with your mouth open
  • Breathing
  • Thinking silently

The resulting combination of someone experiencing a HTBS triggering event and another individual includes yelling, eye-rolling, snarky remarks, huffing, the word “fine”, crying, maniacal laughter and other concerning responses.

These are some general examples, everyone with HTBS responds differently. The variety of triggers and responses are what makes this syndrome so dangerous and unpredictable.

HTBS often presents itself at the same time as Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). However, use caution when referring to PMS and/or this public service announcement at the time. HTBS can be dormant for days, weeks, months or even years and present itself with no notice. (The words “hair-trigger” aren’t included in the name of the syndrome for nothing.)

After a triggering event (which frankly, is always a freaking mystery), the person with HTBS may appear calm. Be careful. Consider moving to another state and changing your phone number for a few days.

Sigh. More sparkling wine for me. And maybe a time out.

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