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Trigger

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Content warning for talking about PTSD and suicidal ideation.

I’m standing on the lawn, looking out at the lake. It’s the second time in under a month that an ambulance has been called to my Baba’s house. In the end, she’ll be all right. I don’t know that, now.

“Call me and check on me throughout the day,” she asked, worried about breathlessness and chest pain.

“Call the ambulance,” I said and drove over.

I’m standing on the lawn, looking out at the lake I’ve known since the day I was born. I could get in there.

It’s an impulse, not a plan.

It’s twenty-degrees. My feet are freezing in my boots. I can’t go into the house, where the EMTs are evaluating her. I wouldn’t be there; standing by the bookcase, opening and closing every Matryoshka doll, I was running up the driveway three years ago. Seeing the face of the firefighter who had stayed behind with Baba as Papa raced off, pulseless, to the emergency room. I’m no help there, trembling and staring and methodically taking things apart and putting them back together.

I could get in and lay down and never have to feel this way again.

I would never have to remember the face of the nurse at the triage window who’d told me they wouldn’t need my grandfather’s clothes or medications. I would never have to reenact it in my mind, try futilely to change the events that had occurred over three years ago. I would never have to construct a fantasy of shoving those bags at the triage nurse, screaming at her that they would need them, as though I could make it retroactively true.

Baba can walk to the ambulance. Papa couldn’t; his arm had flopped off the gurney as they loaded him in.

I can never go inside that house again, I tell myself. But I do. While the first responders navigate the snowy driveway and my husband trudges to the dumpster with trash that hadn’t made it out that morning, I go upstairs. I confront the bathroom I’ve avoided since the night I cleaned blood off the back of the toilet. They said he had a pulse when they arrived. As far as I’m concerned, he died there, on the floor, bleeding from the head, waiting for the ambulance.

I stare at that spot, fists clenched. “You did this to me.” I blame him out loud for my messed up brain. For how hard everything is now. I blame him for dying and leaving me responsible for answering these calls that pour salt into unhealed wounds. I don’t feel any better.

The ambulance drives away. I go out outside, where the car is already running.

“Are you ready to go?” my husband asks.

The same drive is ahead of me. The same hospital, the same emergency room. Baba is going to be okay, but I don’t know that yet. I look at the water.

I could get in.

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26 Comments

  1. Anon
    Anon

    <3

    November 13, 2019
    |Reply
  2. I can’t offer any empty platitudes about how it’s going to be all right. I don’t know, and never really can.

    All I have is this:

    Please don’t. Please don’t. Please don’t.

    November 13, 2019
    |Reply
  3. Rachel Tibbetts
    Rachel Tibbetts

    I see your pain and your anger.

    November 13, 2019
    |Reply
  4. Rebecca P.
    Rebecca P.

    <3

    November 13, 2019
    |Reply
  5. Jamie
    Jamie

    <3

    November 13, 2019
    |Reply
  6. Tami Marie Alexander
    Tami Marie Alexander

    My heart is with you, I know what it’s like to live with this demon. I hope someday you’ll let me help you work through it. I know deep down you are very spiritual and open minded, and open to receiving the healing. When you are ready, let me know. Namaste.

    November 13, 2019
    |Reply
  7. ninjacandles
    ninjacandles

    Please don’t. Stay here.

    November 13, 2019
    |Reply
  8. Maile
    Maile

    Hugs. I understand.

    November 13, 2019
    |Reply
  9. Zev J
    Zev J

    I live near a lake too, and I totally get this. Please stay.

    November 13, 2019
    |Reply
  10. Tez Miller
    Tez Miller

    You COULD – but you DIDN’T, and that’s the important thing. You chose NOT to, and that’s what matters. You won this battle. The fight may not be over, but you have not been defeated.

    November 13, 2019
    |Reply
  11. MC Prince
    MC Prince

    You could. I hope you don’t. <3

    November 14, 2019
    |Reply
  12. Jen, I know it doesn’t feel this way right now, but I *promise* that if you stay out of the water things can get better.

    Fingers crossed for you for things improving. I hope you have a good therapist who can help, and lots of support. We’re all rooting for you.

    November 14, 2019
    |Reply
  13. Gaya
    Gaya

    Im so sorry, Jenny. I hope you will feel better at some point. Hugs.

    November 14, 2019
    |Reply
  14. Pansy Petal
    Pansy Petal

    *super tight hug*

    November 14, 2019
    |Reply
  15. Xebi
    Xebi

    I hear you. I see your grief and your trauma and your pain, and I hear your words.

    I hope writing it all down helps in some ways.

    We’re here to listen.

    November 14, 2019
    |Reply
  16. Reyn
    Reyn

    Jenny, as someone who struggles with similar demons, I can only offer my support.

    You’ve built a whole community here, and I think I echo everyone’s sentiments (except the trolls) when I tell you that we are here for you.

    November 14, 2019
    |Reply
  17. Ange2
    Ange2

    Hugs. I hope it gets better for you.

    November 14, 2019
    |Reply
  18. small jar of fireflies
    small jar of fireflies

    A day at a time, a day at a time.

    I read you.

    November 14, 2019
    |Reply
  19. Amber
    Amber

    Yes, you could.
    You didn’t. You shouldn’t.
    But you could.

    Hugs, Jenny. I don’t know your specific pain, but I know those thoughts. You aren’t alone.

    November 14, 2019
    |Reply
  20. The problem with anxiety and depression is that the water is always there. Sometimes it’s no big deal. Sometimes it’s even beautiful, or a place of recreation. But when it feels like you’re drowning on shore, the idea that the water is always there becomes an awful kind of comfort. There’s a way out. It’s a lie, of course: all depression is a lie, but it makes sense that this is how we perceive it sometimes.

    Get through one hour at a time. You’re not alone. Lots of us have water in our line of sight, too, and understand what it can mean and how it can feel.

    November 14, 2019
    |Reply
    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth

      That is a really fabulous way of putting it- thank you! Like any other kind of self-harm, if you make the drowning “real” maybe you can deal with it. (Like you said, it’s a lie, but such a seductive one.)

      None of us are alone in this which is a sad commentary on our world, but a comforting reminder.

      November 17, 2019
      |Reply
  21. Anonymous
    Anonymous

    I understand. Sending you love.

    November 15, 2019
    |Reply
  22. cheerfuloptimistic
    cheerfuloptimistic

    I’m sorry you have to go through all this shit. May you be able to survive.

    November 16, 2019
    |Reply
  23. Sophie
    Sophie

    PTSD is a utter bitch to deal with, but it is so worth doing the work. Three years ago I had reached a place where I was just exhausted from the constant nightmares, the hyper vigilance, the jumping 3 feet whenever someone touched me. My trauma was a different one, but I know what it is to to relieve the worst thing that ever happened to me every time I closed my eyes and sometimes when I didn’t. I reached my breaking point and I wished so desperately for it all just to stop, I even had my own version of the lake. Instead I went to therapy, and at first it was worse. The nightmares got more frequent and more terrifying, the flashbacks increased. But I kept at it, and I did get better. Now I only have the nightmares when I’m particularly stressed out, the flashbacks are even rarer. Facing the trauma in a safe environment was still the hardest thing I’ve ever done, I’m not going to lie. The therapy was incredibly emotionally gruelling, but it did the job. I know that it gets better is somewhat overused these days, but it really does. PTSD is treatable, you just have to do the work.

    November 17, 2019
    |Reply
  24. (Non-doctor) Sarah
    (Non-doctor) Sarah

    I understand your feelings, and have them too. A lot. The only thing that saves me is thinking of how my loved ones would feel. Your family loves you; try to hold on to that. Be well, Jen.

    November 18, 2019
    |Reply
  25. Karin from the Netherlands
    Karin from the Netherlands

    Psychological pain sucks. I hear ya. I also hear your tiredness. The sirens call of suicide can be so exhausting. I know. I hear it too sometimes.

    Keep talking. It’s okay. I’m not scared of your hurt, and I think it’s awesome that you feel safe enough to share. I think it’s amazing self care to share what’s going on and gives me confidence that even though you’re in so much pain and fucked-up-ness, you’re still taking care of yourself. It’s ok not to be ok. And even though you’re no stranger to mental illness, you got this. You’re alowing people to get your back, so you got this.

    Keep sharing, we’ve got you.

    November 20, 2019
    |Reply

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