Almost everyone will reach a breaking point at least once in their lifetime. It’s a common human experience that happens when stressors become too overwhelming to handle and causes a mental/emotional breakdown.
While it’s okay to have a mental breakdown, it’s important to know how to deal with such extreme emotional distress when it occurs. This is because if we aren’t careful, it could drive us to do something we wouldn’t be proud of, like breaking the law. Case in point is this 63-year-old pilot, Kenneth Henderson Jones, who was filmed using an ax to chop at a parking lot gate.
According to a report from the Adams County Sheriff’s Office, Jones, who worked with United Airlines, said that he had hit his breaking point as he waited to leave a parking area reserved for employees. He revealed to deputies that he got triggered by the numerous cars he saw waiting in line behind the barrier gates. Upset with the situation, he decided to help drivers leave by hitting the gates several times.
In a video clip which was filmed on August 2 at the Denver International Airport, Jones, who was neatly dressed in his pilot uniform, could be seen striking the parking lot gate repeatedly. He then left the scene after knocking the barrier gate off its base and seeing vehicular movement out of the parking lot restored.
According to Nexstar’s KDVR, he left on foot after a DIA employee confronted him and headed to a nearby field, where he was arrested. Reports have it that he had a scuffle with the employee, who was able to overpower him and seize the ax.
The Adams County Sheriff’s Office has now confirmed that Jones is facing charges for criminal mischief. United Airlines has also released a statement confirming his removal from schedule and stating that he had been put on leave pending the outcome of their investigation.
This incident underscores the importance of learning healthy and effective coping mechanisms for distressing situations. According to an article on Harvard Health Publishing, emotional meltdowns can be “difficult to shake off.”
In the words of Abby Altman, an associate psychologist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital, “Feeling overwhelmed makes it harder to identify ways to get unstuck; the options seem limited, which can create a sense of hopelessness or despair. Additionally, negative memories may come to mind more readily, and we may filter out useful ways of viewing the situation at hand.”
However, the good news is that it can be managed without necessarily resulting in fits of rage like it happened with Jones. Altman says that by stopping to pay attention to your thoughts, thinking and challenging your thoughts, acknowledging that your dominating emotions are only temporary, and exploring healthy options, one can easily manage emotional breakdowns. He also encouraged individuals in such situations to shift their physical response by employing breathing techniques and seek medical help for recurrent meltdowns.
However, as Deepak Chopra, a University of California clinical professor, advises, preventing mental breakdowns is the best approach to dealing with it. According to him, “Reaching your breaking point means that you’ve crossed into the red zone, from which it’s hard to return. You won’t get to your red zone if you apply the habits of self-care.”