emotional triggers

Emotional Triggers are Real:18 Years Since My Failed Suicide Attempt

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18 years ago, I swallowed 25 pills in a suicide attempt. Since then, I’ve learned how to deal with emotional triggers (to an extent), but the pain never fully goes away.

Things are going to get seriously heavy for a few minutes, but life isn’t always perfect. In fact, life can be so painful that it just doesn’t feel worth living.

Suffocated by fear, money problems, marital or relationship problems, lack of love, self-respect, and worth are all real reasons that many people have an emotional breakdown.

I’ve never shared my story on this blog. I was interviewed by Money With a Purpose about the incident but have always been afraid to fully open my heart to sharing here until tonight.


Playing House as a High Schooler


For a little bit of back story, two weeks before my senior year of high school, my parents were kicked out of our rental home and decided to move away. Because I was (what my mom called) “mature”, she gave me the choice of whether to move with them or stay behind and live with my (much older) boyfriend.

My parents and I weren’t getting along very well, and we lived under poor conditions. Our blended family consisted of nine people with the youngest siblings sleeping in bunk beds in the living room (next to our wicker outdoor furniture as a sofa and chair). My sisters and I shared a room. And my older brother had his own room (seems fair, right?)

There was no way in hell I’d go with them. So I stayed behind, worked a 30+ hour/week job, and graduated with honors. I don’t blame my parents for making the tough decision, and I learned so much because I was forced to grow up at such a young age.

So when I went to college, I wilded out. I drank heavily. I was promiscuous. And I had zero self-respect.

How to Manage Emotional Triggers

My Time in Jail


One night, when I was drinking heavily, I got behind the wheel and was pulled over for DUI. After failing the field sobriety test, I was arrested and driven 15 miles to the county jail. This gave me about a half hour altogether to (somewhat) sober up.

Even with 30 minutes or so to get my act together, I failed the breathalyzer test as well. The first time I blew a .14 blood alcohol content (felony-eligible). The officers allowed me to sit and drink water for a good 30 minutes and then I blew a .13 (misdemeanor).

So they booked me and I stayed the night in jail before I could call a bail bondsman and see the judge the next morning.

I had to go back to court to face the charges, and the judge was not playing around! I was fined $500, ordered community service, had to take DUI classes, lost my driver’s license for 6 months immediately, and was sentenced to five additional days in jail.

From here, things just spiraled out of control.




Shortly after serving my jail time, I was raped by a man I barely knew. I’ll never forget his name (nor his nickname that his buddies called him). Heavily intoxicated (yet again), I tried to stop him but he forced himself on me. It was “that time of the month”, and he forced a tampon into my body that stayed there for a few days.

I was too ashamed to get help. Too embarrassed to go to the doctor and have it removed. I literally would have rather died from toxic shock syndrome than admit that I had been raped with a tampon in while I was drunk.

On top of all of this, when I talked to my Dad about it, he said, “Well, you must’ve wanted it.” That, of course, didn’t help things. No one was there for me. I felt like no one cared.

I felt a lot of shame and guilt that I can’t quite describe from this time in my life.


My Failed Suicide Attempt


A few days later, my body rejected the feminine product and I didn’t die. But I wanted to.

I don’t remember the timeline exactly because I believe I suffered PTSD from it all, but shortly after all of this is when I decided to attempt suicide. One by one, I swallowed 25 500mg capsules of Tylenol. I know what you’re thinking. Tylenol will just kill your liver, won’t it? Probably so but I didn’t know any better.

I called my Mom sobbing and told her I loved her and that I wanted to die and remember the ambulance ride and my stomach being pumped with charcoal.

Coincidentally, my Dad drove me to a mental health facility where I had to prove I wasn’t a danger to myself or others before they’d release me. To this day, my Dad still brings up some jacket (apparently his favorite jacket) that he loaned me (and never got back) on this car ride.

For 15 years, he would call me every time he drove past the facility in Fort Supply, Oklahoma, to ask me, “Do you remember that?”.

I think he finally gets it. Yes, I remember, Dad. I will always remember. It doesn’t help when you bring it up in that way, and there’s a way to deal with emotional triggers. This isn’t working.


Dealing with Emotional Triggers


While having a conversation with a friend this week, I realized something. The best way to deal with mental health is to face it head-on. Emotional triggers can occur when you least expect them.

Check on your friends. Make sure they’re ok.

Mental health is not fun to talk about. Talking about our problems and our weaknesses is not exactly sexy. But how can you ever know if someone needs help if you don’t ever ask? I don’t want fake friends or superficial friends. I want friends who can lift me up when I’m feeling dead inside. And I want to be able to ask the tough questions (even if they push back). “Are you sure you’re ok?”

The Whole Cook shares the evolution of friendship on her blog:

  1. Casual (Simple) – “It’s so good to see you! I love your shirt! How’s the fam?”
  2. Superficial (Easy & Fun) – “I’m so glad we met for coffee. I really needed out of the house. The kids are driving me crazy!”
  3. Lasting (Support & Truth) – “This sounds like a good opportunity. Have you thought about xxx? I know you’ve always had a hard time with xxx.”

The Evolution of Friendship

A year ago, I was hit with a bombshell that rocked my world (in a terrible way). My former self (who couldn’t deal with emotional triggers) started to show up. I’ll admit. I honestly started getting suicidal thoughts, drinking more, and even considering divorce.

Thankfully, we’ve come through it all and are constantly a work in progress. But mental illness is an ongoing issue that has to be dealt with. It has to be talked about. You wouldn’t believe it, but only one of my friends actually checked on me during the toughest 6 months of my life. That says a lot about friendships.

Maybe they didn’t want to drudge up the past. Perhaps they assume that if I needed someone to talk to, I’d come to them.

Either way, you can’t sweep this under the rug. I know it’s uncomfortable, but if your friends are struggling with depression, anxiety, health problems, or even anger issues, keep in touch. And I don’t mean to call to catch up. I mean to call and ask, “How are you?”…because depression doesn’t take a vacation.

If you are struggling or having suicidal thoughts, reach out to someone. If you don’t have anyone you feel you can talk to, comment here. This is a safe place for you and I want to pray for you and encourage you to keep living life. It does eventually get better.

2 thoughts on “Emotional Triggers are Real:18 Years Since My Failed Suicide Attempt”

  1. Hey, Melissa,

    Thanks for sharing your story. Isolation is the enemy, as you state so well. Shame and guilt are toxic. It takes courage to talk about tough things like depression, attempting suicide, and the like. But in doing so, you’re helping others who read and are in hiding.

    I was grateful you agreed to allow me to interview you. You changed lives with your honesty. This is yet another chapter in the journey. You’ve peeled off another layer. I pray those who read and who are suffering in silence will know they’re not alone.

    Well done , Mel! Thank you!

    1. Thanks, Fred. It’s so tough to put this out there, but this week I visited with my son’s friend’s mom who experienced a breakdown a few months ago. I asked her how she’s doing and just told her you can come back from this but that it takes time and the pain will always be there. I don’t know if it was received well or not because she left the ballgame early. But my intention is to love people who are hurting…that’s all.

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