Sometimes you just can’t out run the past. Things come up in life that jolt me back to thinking about the past. Tonight I was just relaxing and had the TV on in the background. The show was reporting on the Mary Kennedy suicide last month. Apparently the autopsy report was released today, and they are reporting that she tried to stop herself. Sadly, she wasn’t able to and died hanging with her hands between the noose and her neck. The was a bit triggering, I can’t deny that. Times like this are hard, since I didn’t see it coming. It is different on the anniversary of when I tried to hang myself. I know it is coming and I can get my feet under me. Tonight is a bit different. I wrote earlier in this blog about how hard it is to kill yourself. Your head may be in the worst possible place, and the suffering unmeasurable, but the body is stubborn. It will try to save itself. Clearly this was the case with Kennedy. It makes me nauseous just thinking about it. Rather than let myself get buried by all the thoughts and memories I have to recenter myself and find distractions in this moment.
Our past is never far behind, it takes only an instant to unearth it. It is critical to have in place a plan for coping, and ways to stay focused and not get lost in it. I feel like there would have been times in the past where this type of trigger would have been quite difficult to deal with. Today, I am okay. I will note it, not bury it, and move on.
Not that many months ago I was watching the season finale of Homeland (Showtime). Claire Danes does an exceptional job of playing a bipolar CIA agent. In the last episode, she consents and undergoes ECT. Another bombshell for my brain. I have a lot of unresolved feelings about the ECT process and my feelings are all over the place. In that moment, it felt like my world tilted. I felt sick, I literally couldn’t catch my breath. It really rocked me, and it was worse because I wasn’t prepared. It took a few days but I gradually got over the intrusive thoughts, and the bad dreams. I took something away from that experience. Actually, a couple of things. One was that I needed a way to cope when things like that came up. The other was that, when experiences trigger me like that, it is important to note it. It means that there is something there that needs working on. I know with the Homeland trigger, it is the ECT. Eventually I’ll need to work through it.
Triggers are all around us. Each and every day. They can either trip us up, or they can strength us. It is okay to feel upset and to revisit the past. But it is a “visit”, not a stay. In brief visits it is manageable. I can cope with that.