The Trigger

Being the obsessive personality type that I am, I’ve been analyzing to death the events of this past weekend in an effort to understand what went wrong. Of course, living the isolated lifestyle that I do, I’m never far from the edge as it is. But it’s important to that I pinpoint the “trigger” that pushed me over the edge into despair. And, thanks to the What’s it worth? post over on JAMMER5’S POLYRANT, I think I now have a better understanding of what that trigger was.

I you might imagine, the pain of my isolation is usually at it’s worst during the holidays, when just about everything coming in from the outside acts to remind me of bygone gatherings with family and friends, and of current gatherings I’ll not be attending. Here in Columbus, Ohio, one of the biggest gatherings for Independence Day is the annual “Red, White, and Boom” celebration, where a huge mass of people from all over the Midwest gather for an all-day event in the downtown area, culminating in the largest fireworks extravaganza in this part of the country.

Well this past Friday was the 30th anniversary of this event, and I naturally began to look back on my history of attendance and then non-attendance once my “problems” made it too difficult for me to go. But it’s not just the huge crowds that make this event so hard for me to attend. No, it’s the patriotic theme that gets to me so bad that my fear of crowds mixes with my fear of embarrassment and the thought of breaking down in such an environment feels like my worst nightmare come true.

In the post I mentioned above, JAMMER talked about how rare it is these days for people to show respect for The Pledge Of Allegiance. Well that’s a trend I’ve been noticing for a very long time. You see, I’m one of those guys who wants to stand with his hand over his heart not only for The Pledge Of Allegiance, but for the Nation Anthem and America The Beautiful as well. In fact, one of the deepest roots of my depression derives from the internal conflict I’ve had, since I was a kid growing up around people who didn’t feel as I did, between my patriotic desire to show this respect and my embarrassment at being seen as “corny.” Because of this, I can’t help but well up whenever I hear any of them today.

Anyway, I still watch the “Red, White, and Boom” fireworks on TV every year (yes, it’s that big). Each year is a little different, and a little bigger, than the year before. But there are some things that are always included, one of which is a song that has become the fourth in my psycho-patriotic, tear-jerking, musical quartet. And it was hearing that song that I now believe triggered my weekend spiral down into depression hell:

For those of you who weren’t in the states to partake in the holiday celebrations, particularly for the Americans abroad who wish they’d been here, here are the final two segments of our 30th anniversary “Red, White, and Boom” Independence Day celebration. It’s like a double finale to the 30 minute program.

I want ice water.

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36 thoughts on “The Trigger

  1. I don’t like crowds either.
    I intentionally avoid them.
    Sporting events and concerts too.
    Something about the energy levels, and the overload of emotions. There’s just too much, to many, too fast. I stayed home for the fourth, and enjoyed just watching the small community fireworks being lit off around the neighborhood. My wife did drag me to a parade though, which I tolerated by focusing on taking pictures of the floats and talking with the kids. Still had to filter my way through the crowds though. Yuck.


    • Your insights are right on, as usual my friend. But that’s a diagnosis I’ve never been comfortable with. Although I believe it to be accurate, it’s difficult to even consider when I’ve spent so much time around actual combat vets in VA hospitals. 😐


      • Small lecture coming, beware!

        PTSD is not just dependant on the stressor, otherwise every combat vet, RTA survivor and rape victim would get it. The psychy reaction to whatever the trigger is also depends, totally IMHO, with what mental state you were in at the time of the T, how you reacted to it, how others coped with you etc etc.

        PLUS, the subsequent panics, terrors and flashbacks, however triggered, become a repeated T in their own right.

        PTSD is a shitter to live with…


            • It’s complicated, but the reason revolves around the response I anticipate when I answer “PTSD” to questions about my diagnosis asked by combat vets with the same diagnosis. I’ve described my life, or at least as much of it as time allows, to each of my VA doctors over the years, and not one of them has suggested PTSD as a possible diagnosis.

              Obviously, if all these professionals are hesitant to sign their names on what seems such an obvious diagnosis, there must be an element of political correctness at work. How does it help me to buck that?


            • I see your dilemma! Folk with PTSD can be dismissive of others who have developed the illness due to T different to their own. I have to say that atleast in my experience, more often the victims gain much mutual support by sharing the consequences of PTSD rather then the intial T.

              The PC acceptance of non-combat related PTSD is a real issue when it comes to liability, compensation, health after care etc You have to roll with whatever your “carers” will allow, sadly.


  2. I find music is a very potent trigger – it tugs at the emotions and calls to mind times past.

    For me it’s the pipes. Being a Scot who left my homeland many years ago to live in Canada and then for the past 20+ years, England, I only have to hear the sound of the bagpipes and my heart swells with pride, my shoulders go back. I thrust out my chest – filled with martial pride, ready to take on every man and the world – and then I start crying like a bairn 😳


      • As a Scot by bribery (we pay to holiday there 2-3 times a year) I claim some slight awareness of the great sacrifices that have been made to preserve the pipes and that have been inspired by them… Music of The Deities, IMHO. (Except when played badly them OMG what a din!)


  3. There is nothing wrong with being patriotic. I remember a few years back being at the Atlanta airport and a group of soldiers heading to Iraq walked through and the whole place burst into applause. That would never happen down under. Our Australia Day celebration is marred by the fact that it’s on the day the British landed on these shores, effectively excluding the indigenous from celebrating.

    Psst A big hug from the Friggin Loon has just been sent your way. I hope I didn’t squeeze too tight πŸ™‚


  4. Yep, amigo, I know the “crowd” feeling. But I think it’s the memories ingrained in me via Vietnam. I sit on the outside seat on any row; sit facing the entrance in restaurants; get queasy when in a crowd. Hell, I even hate driving in a pack.

    But ya, I understand your trepidation about standing during any of America’s anthems. But showing my respect means way more than my fears, so I just do it, as they say. And I’d hug you as well, but the looner likes to hog all the glory πŸ™‚

    BTW, thanks for the link.


    • Hey, it’s an honor to link to that post. I was more concerned about my not having asked first! Oh, and I know what you mean, the loon can be a harsh mistress! πŸ™„

      BTW, I didn’t realize that the poem was your own creation. That makes it even better! I’ve tried my hand at that exactly once, And What About Peter?, and I like yours more.


      • Hell, keep writing poems: that was awesome πŸ™‚

        And the looner and I took the same test one time and turns out we’re both in the same 2% group, so we read each others minds.
        Hey looner . . . GTF out, Friday’s my day in your head!


        • Poetry is definitely NOT my forte. I must have been channeling Rand that day. πŸ™„

          Hmmm… Jammer5, frigginloon, psychic phenomena, and head. Sounds like the kernel of a REALLY FREAKY story! πŸ˜†


  5. We may all have different viewpoints but I think that it is so important to us both as individuals and as a worldwide society to be true to ourselves and express what we feel. I’ve always been what I considered to be too sentimental/sensitive for a guy, and I was always embarrassed by it as well. But I’m not anymore, and It’s done a world of good.

    I cried like a little girl watching 7 Pounds with Will Smith and the finale of Lost. And I am not ashamed to admit that.


    • I didn’t see 7 Pounds and I (weirdly enough) wasn’t a follower of Lost. But I absolutely agree with you on dumping the shame. Now if only I can deal with the rage I feel when I think that random strangers might dare to judge me for getting emotional over our national anthem. Somehow, my dream of responding with an AK just doesn’t feel right. πŸ™„


  6. duncanr said it. Music is an absolutely lethal emotional trigger. As much as I used to love it, I totally cut it out of my life about ten years ago when it seemed liked every song I heard made me cry. And I was crying too much too often (even for a woman) as it was. No music is a high price to pay, but it helps. A little. Very little. I want music.


    • Until I started this blog, where I often use music to reinforce a point, I went for a very long time without being able to listen to any of the great music I’d accumulated over the years – for precisely the reason you mentioned. Using it the way I do hear has helped dramatically, but I’m still a long way from where I was before I got sick. Hell, sometimes when I am in the mood, just trying to pick something from among so many can be a trigger all of it’s own. 😐


  7. I always cry whenever I hear the National Anthem. We homeschool as well, and I pretty much start to cry when we start our sessions with the “P&P” (Pledge and prayer) every day. It’s hard to explain to people who don’t feel the same, how this love of country can be so huge, how so much is wrapped up in all that, all the things that go through my mind. It’s so enormous that it can only leak out in tears because I can’t contain it all.


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