Not Done Yet

I’m not quite done yet with my Army Reserve career.  I am done with certain aspects of it.  I will never be able to deploy again, among other things.  But I am still in it for the one weekend a month, two weeks a year, for now.  And by the way, as most of my fellow reservists can attest, the “one weekend a month, two weeks a year” thing is really more of a suggestion.  There were calendar years in the past where I logged close to 100 days as a reservists, NOT counting the active duty time for deployments.  I was gung-ho.  Now, I only do my one weekend a month.  I may or may not even do my “two weeks” this year.

As I’ve written about in previous posts, I was always the lead for the suicide prevention and awareness training at the different units I was part of.  I was very good at it.  I took the best of the best of all the resources and training materials I had at my disposal and made a presentation from those parts.  I didn’t use the standard slide show provided by the Army.  I rarely used videos from the Army’s suicide prevention website.  I wanted the training I was conducting to feel different from all the other mandatory training we were forced to sit through.  I wanted it to be real and memorable.  I never facilitated “check the box” training.  “Next slide.”

My section leader at my unit has asked me to go to one of our downtrace units to lead suicide awareness training next month.  It’s been a while.  I haven’t conducted that training since a few months before my failed suicide attempt in 2015.  I write about it here.  But I haven’t spoken to a group about it in over a year and a half.  I have a million things going through my mind about how to approach it, how to get comfortable being in that role again.  It was always emotional doing the training because I took it very seriously and had previously fought off thoughts of suicide.  I would even incorporate my personal story into the training.  But now, I’ll be doing the training after a failed attempt, not just thoughts.

That changes the whole dynamics for me doing the training.  At least in my mind it does.  Am I still qualified to facilitate suicide awareness training?  That’s a rhetorical question.  Of course, I am.  But in my mind, while I’m doing the training, what will be happening?  Will I be emotionally strong enough to talk out loud, to a group of fellow Soldiers, about the risks of suicide?  Will I be able to intelligently get my point across without becoming a complete idiot because of what I know will be going on in my head during the training?  Will I be able to focus?

Writing about suicide is easy, for the most part, compared to speaking to a group.  I can write, take a break, compose my thoughts, come back to it, write some more, change my mind and write about something else altogether.  I won’t have that luxury in front of a live audience.  Once I start, I have to see it through.  There will not be a stopping point to compose my thoughts, take a break, or change my mind.  There are many things we do as Soldiers where we sort of remove ourselves from the reality of what is going on around us.  I fear this won’t be one of those instances.

Every word I speak to the group about suicide awareness will be echoing in my mind and reminding me that I was almost a statistic not very long ago.  I fear that every emotion I felt during that dark time of my life will resurface in my mind while I’m trying to conduct the training.  My mind is a mess already, just thinking about it.  What you don’t see here is that I took a break from writing this last night to continue this morning.  I slept horribly.  My mind was going a million miles an hour.  Again, I won’t have the luxury of a break during training.

I know I’ve come a long way in my mental recovery since August 2015.  But there are situations that still bother me.  There are still thoughts in my head that make me uncomfortable.  I guess the next part of my recovery is getting back in the saddle with conducting suicide training again.  I will be mentally prepared.  I will be academically prepared.  And I will do my best to be emotionally prepared.  Before some of you give me the rah-rah pep talk of how great it’ll go, or the talk of how maybe I should avoid the situation, I got this.  I am a professional Soldier.  I am a leader.  I must always put the mission first.  This will be no different.

Until my career in the reserves is completely done I will continue to do the things I’m capable of doing when asked.  While conducting suicide training again is going to be very hard, I know I am capable of it.  I know it will be uncomfortable, but I know it’s my job.  I know I will obsess over this for the next few weeks, maybe even lose sleep like I did last night.  But I got this.  I have to, someone’s life might be depending on it

Thank you for reading.   Thank you for taking a walk through my mind with me while I hash things out.  This is good therapy for me.  Good day, God bless


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8 thoughts on “Not Done Yet

  1. First of all, let me tell you that if anything you’re more qualified now to speak of this than you were before. Also, you now have a new tool in your box: you know what that depression and helplessness feel like, first hand. It’s no longer something that “others” go through, but personal. You know all that. It provides a codicil to the training. Maybe something like:

    These circumstances may seem far away, like they will never happen to you or yours. They can. Despite years of training in suicide prevention, I got there. It wasn’t that I didn’t know the resources, I did. It wasn’t that I didn’t know where to go for help. I did. It wasn’t that I didn’t know the warning signs, again, of course I did. But the reality is far beyond the words. . . .

    And you can quit just there. You’ve told them everything they need to know, without ripping the scabs off your wounds in public. THAT isn’t necessary.

    What I’m hearing from you is something that I hear/see a lot. Stigma. The stigma isn’t in us, we know why we did what we did, but people who’ve never been there. They sit on their “safe space” throne, assuming it could never happen to them.

    It can happen to anyone. And that’s the point you need to make. No one, no matter what they think, who they are, what their training may or may not be, in the right set of circumstances can get there. It isn’t necessarily permanent, but it is a NORMAL part of being human. That “normality” is something that people who haven’t been there want to dispute, internally anyway: It can never happen to me!


    It isn’t sick, BUT A NORMAL RESPONSE. Suicide is the absence of pain, given enough pressure and pain EVERYONE has a tipping point. Everyone.

    You got there. I got there twice. Others get there or don’t, but getting there doesn’t mean we’re sick any more than having a baby, batting a home run, or other experience many have but some don’t makes someone sick.

    I’ve never had a baby or batted a home run. I tried to commit suicide, twice, and thought about it 1,000s of times. So? It’s an event in my life. It is. You had a baby or batted a home run? Hm. Not me. I tried to commit suicide. You haven’t? Hm.

    I’m not trivializing it or the pain which gets people there at all. But it IS normal given the “right” circumstances. For me, suicide becomes attractive when two things occur: I’m overwhelmed and I feel helpless to change whatever it is.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can say I’ve shared difficult things about my life and sometimes it got emotional. Of course, I’m a soldier of the Kingdom of God and not the US military, but even if you get a little messed up it might impact someone. God can take our lives and the things that have happened and use it to help others. I’ll be praying for you. You are always in my thoughts. God bless.

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  3. You don’t want the rah rah and you know that whatever you say during this training, it’s more and better than what most anyone hears or would otherwise understand – except people who have been there, and isn’t part of the prevention the realization that we are all human with human limits, which are more prone to be reached when we don’t have a place to put all the stressors and the pain, the overload – and then to find such places and means of unloading? It seems you are getting at least somewhat overloaded thinking of the overload of talking about the overload. If it happens to be a place for you to put your thoughts on the subject and you are Unloading, great. But, If it’s not an unloading, don’t do the parts that get you to feel the heaviest and most stressed if too heavy, too stressed. Do what works for You. You are not supposed to be strong at the expense of your self, here; be helpful, but still kind to yourself. That is an order.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. You can conquer this and anything related to it because YOU KNOW WHAT IT ACTUALLY FEELS LIKE. This is no different that a soldier that lost his leg or arm or even his sight. That soldier is the VERY BEST QUALIFIED to help others going through what he can call victory over. I am pleased to have watched you progress to this level. Keep going. ILY

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Mission Accomplished | Story of My Life

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