When My Depression and Anxiety Triggers Are Screaming at Me

It didn’t hit me until I was speeding down the road, trying to get from the hospital to my house to a Scout meeting in under an hour, that my depression and anxiety triggers were screaming at me. I hadn’t paid attention to them earlier, but now there was no mistaking the fact that I was in the middle of a spiral. They were clamoring to get my attention.

I’ve had depression and anxiety for a good part of my life. The older I get, the more I learn about these illnesses that have the capacity to turn me into someone I don’t recognize. For instance, there are the triggers. There are quite a few, and I may not recognize them as such until I find myself reacting to them. The realization dawns hard.

For many people, the triggers can include holidays, loneliness, self-doubt, criticism, fear of hurting someone or being hurt. The list is endless. It’s different for each person I’d imagine.

One of my triggers happened to be loved ones in the hospital. My standard reaction when a loved one is sick or in medical trouble is to adopt this frenetic, frenzied pace with everything. Rush here. Rush there. Can’t be late. Have to do it all. Can’t let anyone down. Have to be there for everyone.

Heart pounding. Thoughts racing. Hurry, hurry, hurry. More thoughts. Why aren’t you taking better care of yourself? Better call the doctor first thing. Why do I have a pain in my chest? Who’s going to be mad at me now? Did I remember to eat? Did I take a deep breath yet?

It’s like I don’t give myself permission to just be. In the midst of this spiral, I kept thinking I will take care of myself once everything has calmed down. But it never does, does it?

The next morning, on the verge of tears, I realized the pain in my chest and the uneasy feeling I had was likely an anxiety attack, something I haven’t had in a couple years. Meditation helped calm me, but the unease is still there, right under the surface, waiting to pop out when I finally deal with my feelings.

Maybe it’s time to try some self-care, to just think and be in the moment. Maybe it’s time to deal with the feelings surrounding my loved ones and their health. Maybe it’s time to take a deep breath and just remind myself it will be OK.

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