Suicidal Anonymous

What if there were a meeting to go to for those of us that have attempted suicide, or been stopped just in time? If I went to that meeting would I stand up and say, “Hi, I’m Dave. It’s been 4 months since my last debilitating bout with suicidal thoughts.”? Would I have to go into what brought me to that point? Would I have to disclose all the stuff about my PTSD and depression and fears and general weirdness that I deal with in my head every day? Would anyone go to such a meeting and share their innermost thoughts? I have compared recovering from suicide to alcoholism more than once. I think both are a lifelong recovery process. Both need a support group of some sort. And both require the person to be completely honest with himself. Suicidal Anonymous? We might need a better name for our group.

A few weeks ago, I was on the phone with a fellow Soldier talking about things in life. Like many other fellow Soldiers I talk to and share my story with, she was intrigued that I was so open with something so personal. Many of the people I talk to one-on-one have gone through a situation similar to mine, or have other behavioral health issues that I can relate to, not just suicidal thoughts. The most asked question of me during a conversation about my story is, “Aren’t you afraid people will look at you differently if you share that stuff?” Actually, there was a time I did fear that.

In the military, there has always been a stigma placed on those who sought help for mental health issues. Granted, it is more accepted now to seek help than when I came in in 1989, even encouraged now. The Army has come a long way in the last couple decades in dealing with the matters of mental health concerning Soldiers. But it’s that first step a person has to take to get help that is by far the hardest. Asking for help or sharing the deepest secrets of your mind can be very uncomfortable. And you can’t make someone get help until they’re on the verge of it being too late, especially if that person doesn’t want help. Or at least, that’s my personal experience.

Back to the question, “Aren’t you afraid people will look at you differently?” I have accepted that I need people to look at me differently than they used to. I am different now. I see myself differently. My brain doesn’t always process things rationally anymore, although I am making progress. But I still cannot be expected to perform on the level I did before my brain changed and I got diagnosed with PTSD and other things. Therefore, I need people to understand my situation and see me for who I am now. And I need to share my experiences because it keeps me in check with myself and allows others to keep me accountable to continuing my recovery.

We don’t have a Suicidal Anonymous group for those of us recovering from our own dark thoughts and actions. Even though I went to group therapy after my hospital stay last year, in the beginning of my recovery, it felt like each one of us was our own solitary group, an island, alone in the waves somewhere. I intend to change that, and I have for myself. I tell my story. I read some of the blogs posted by others on the topic of their experiences with suicide, some posted anonymously, some with a name. I make myself available to those that need to talk about it. And I connect with all those people as if they are in a group with me, going to our anonymous meetings, whether they know it or not.

I imagine I will be in recovery for the rest of my life. Just the fact of how close I came to dying, I know it will always be somewhere in my mind. I know there are experiences that will trigger my PTSD and drive me to being severely depressed or having anger issues. But I am choosing to not be anonymous about it. I am choosing to share my story even if people look at me differently. I am choosing to be better. Not because it’s easy to choose to be better, it’s actually very difficult. But because I want to be better, choosing to be better is now a viable option.

I’m bringing this meeting to order. Hi, I’m Dave, it’s been four months since I last seriously thought about suicide, 15 months since my last attempt. I’m glad I’m here. I’m glad you’re here, too. Good day, God bless.

Dave

Other posts of mine related to this one:

https://storyofmylife.blog/2016/05/21/im-ok-i-promise/

https://storyofmylife.blog/2016/04/16/the-pysch-ward/

https://storyofmylife.blog/2016/02/06/battlefield/

 

Advertisements

Middle School Kids

I had something else lined up for this week’s post, but I really need to get this off my chest. As we all know, the world we live in is a crazy place. And judging by some of the youth aged kids I see out in my part of the world, it doesn’t always look like it’s going to get any better.

On my way from picking up kids at the middle school, I see a kid walking down the street in the lane I was driving in. He wasn’t crossing the street; he was purposely walking down the road with his back to traffic behind him. After he finally moved, I honked my horn as I passed him. Then he yelled, “Don’t fucking honk your horn at me!” Are you kidding me? This is a middle school student, maybe 7th or 8th grade. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Was he really that bold to walk down the road in traffic, then yell at me not to honk at him? I decided to pull over and figured I’d talk to him about it and see if his tone changed.

As I approached him, I was amused by the fear in his eyes. Good. Maybe he’ll think twice about being an ass next time. I asked him his name. Instead he countered with, “I was just trying to cross the street.” I said, no, and asked his name again. He hesitated. I then told him he could tell me his name or I could get officer Rojas involved (resource officer at the middle school, and wonderful deputy to have in that position). He then said, “Logan.” I asked his last name, he said, “Michaels.” So, if any of you know Logan Michaels’ parents, send this week’s post to them.

Parenting is hard. Not really, but it is time consuming, tiring, worrisome, scary, expensive, and also rewarding. And I know my kids are far from perfect and I know I have never been the perfect dad. But I do know this: My children, when out in the world, know how to act like civilized human beings. They know respect. They know right from wrong. What happened to society from when I was a kid to now? I got in my share of trouble and did more stupid things than I can remember, but when called out by an adult, I was respectful.

I grew up in a different time. I was probably in the 4th grade while spending the night at a friend’s house. He and I got in trouble, I don’t remember what it was, but it was enough for his dad to spank both of us. Not bad, just a couple swats on the butt and then on with the evening. I didn’t dare tell my dad, because I knew I did wrong and didn’t want another spanking when I got home. How is that adults cannot correct other people’s children now? How is that some of the children people are raising are such bad human beings?

I see kids leaving the middle school every day on my way to pick up mine. So many of them don’t even stop at the crosswalk, just keep on moving because it seems to be their right. And, yes, Florida does have a law giving pedestrians the right of way in crosswalks. I think a close look at it would indicate that they have to be in the crosswalk first. Stop walking out in front of cars that are already moving! I watch one imbecile kid walk crossways from one corner to the opposite one, avoiding all crosswalks, going straight out into traffic. Granted, that kid will likely cleanse himself from the gene pool at some point, but at what cost? Will he take someone with him? Or will he cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars to feed and house in prison somewhere?

This is not a school issue, it’s a parenting issue. I expect the school system to teach. They can expect me to parent. It’s a partnership that I am happy to be in. Maybe the school could put more effort to instill certain basic courtesies to the kids, since they are also a reflection of the school itself. But it’s not their job, it’s ours. The school system is NOT responsible for raising our children. There are kids being raised that are turning out like ass holes. And one day the parents are going to ask how that happened. It starts with right now. Do your damn job.

Not long ago I saw a post on Facebook where a friend of mine posted that she was at Wendy’s down the road from the middle school, after school was out. A group of the students had gone there after school. My friend wrote that she was appalled by the behavior of those students. They were rowdy, unruly, disrespectful, and didn’t care. And there’s no doubt what school they were from because of the uniform policy. It’s not just Logan Michaels that needs a swift kick in the pants, it’s quite a few of them. And society will give it to them one day since the parents obviously won’t.

I have chaperoned a few events at the middle school and I can say that by far, most of the children there are decent, good kids. It’s the handful of twerps that give all the rest of them a bad name. Just like all groups of people, there are a few rotten apples that mold the perception of the whole group. My children have been very active in sports and clubs. I can say most of the parents I know from these activities are wonderful people. The teachers, staff, and faculty that I have dealt with over the last decade at that school are top notch, the best. With the exception of the boys’ soccer coach, they are all a class act and care about doing a good job for the students.

Dear parents, stop raising ass holes and start raising respectful children. It’s not the school’s job, it’s yours. Good day, God bless.

Dave

The Holidays at War

As the holidays approach, we look forward to Thanksgiving turkey, football, parades on TV and family time. Eventually Christmas will be here with presents, more food, more family, and Santa. Right after that, the new year, but without Dick Clark like we had when I was growing up. I’m pretty sure 2017 will be better than the last few years.

Occasionally, I’m asked to write a short article for a non-profit organization called Project Sanctuary. You can find them at www.projectsanctuary.us. You can also find them on Facebook. This month I was asked to write about war veterans and the holidays. Not to give away what I’ll write for them, it did inspire me to do a piece this week on being deployed during this time of year.

I know I’ve missed every holiday and birthday at home at one time or another. I don’t think I’ve ever missed them all in the same calendar year, though. But we do miss a lot. And while we are away from home, we become family with our fellow Service Members. We celebrate the holidays together. But one thing to keep in mind is that War doesn’t look at the calendar. When we come home from war, we might look at the holidays differently depending on what was going at the time. For more on that, you’ll have to find my article later this month I’m writing for Project Sanctuary.

In this week’s post, I thought I’d show how even at war, we can make the best of it. How we pick each other up. How we get through the tough times and a manage to smile. How we become a family in the absence of our families back home. So much of the support during the holiday season came from back home, from our families and organizations dedicated to taking care of the troops while deployed. Enjoy the pictures, they tell the story. And if you want to support an organization that’s dedicated to helping war veterans, I would suggest you look at Project Sanctuary. Tell ‘em Dave sent ya. Lol. Good day, God bless.

In each of these pictures, a One Star General is serving Thanksgiving dinner to the troops.

 

Service with a smile from our 1SG and our favorite Colonel.  Troops enjoying the meal.

 

I will be as silly as I’m allowed to be.  And, yes, I wore that tie in uniform when at my desk everyday.

 

Troops receiving stockings and cookies from family and organizations back home.

 

dscn4545

One organization sent over 200 boxes of stuff for the troops.  Captain Rachel’s family was to thank.

 

We found a tree that needed decorating.  And the food was always better during the holidays. Yummy.

 

dscn5057

This is what family looks like while at war.