For the longest time, when I drove by the parking lot when I tried to end it all, I used to get really anxious. I could feel my heart racing and want to climb out of my skin. I wouldn't call it a panic attack but I would definitely get nervous and not feel good. My therapist pointed out to me that it was a trigger. Triggers can be a place or a thing or a song or even a person. For me, it was commuter parking lot. As I would leave that area, things would settle and I would go about my day.
So one day, I decided to face my trigger by driving back to the parking lot and parking in the same spot that I did on that terrible July day. It was warm, not quite as warm as that day, but warm enough. I turned off the car and sat in the silence and listened to my body. Everything was quiet, painfully quiet. I could hear the blood pumping through my veins. I could feel the hairs on my arms stand a little bit. I closed my eyes and could see the police cars surround me. I could see the massive SWAT vehicle park itself directly in front of my little Chevy Malibu. I was able to see all of the guys get out of their vehicles and set their weapons on me.
At that moment, I was back at that very day. It was almost a year later and yet, it felt as if I was still in the moment. I began to feel my shirt sticking to me with sweat, as my heart was pounding to keep up with my breathing. I began to relive the phone conversation with Theresa and felt the anger when I realized that she had contacted the police. I felt the sting of the sweat getting in my eyes as I wiped the tears from my face. I could sense the dread again as I came to realize that none of this was going as planned and I had made several key mistakes. My choices were dwindling and none of them good.
Then I noticed the smell of fresh cut grass. Within seconds, I heard the growl of a poorly tuned lawn mower getting louder and louder. I opened my eyes and was back in the present. While the step back was incredibly uncomfortable, for me, it was necessary. I needed to walk through each moment of that day to remind myself of how fortunate I was that I called the Suicide Prevention Hotline. And that Theresa kept me on the line while the police tracked me down. I had to remind myself of the look of sadness in my wife's eyes when she walked into the emergency room and held me. It was probably the worst day of my life. And probably the best day of my life.
It's a little easier for me now. I can drive by that parking lot and not get worked up. It's not a trigger for me. I admit, it's not my first choice of places to go hang out, but it no longer has that hold over me. I needed to take back my control over that place. It was a little easier for me than for others who's trigger may be a person. I had the ability to have some control over it. I could choose to go there or avoid it. Not everyone is so lucky with their triggers.
I guess if you are aware of a trigger, get some help facing it and staring it down. There is often a feeling of helplessness that goes along with depression. Recognize the things that you can control and work on those things. Don't do it alone. Find someone that can help you along that battle. Sometimes, you just need someone to sit with you and hold your hand.
Depression is a bitch and I don't say that lightly. Don't let it own you. Reach out to the Suicide Prevention Hotline if you need to talk to someone, 800-273-8255.
Whats your trigger?