Mission Accomplished

Last month I wrote about getting back in the saddle with conducting suicide awareness training with the army reserves.  https://storyofmylife.blog/2017/01/14/not-done-yet/     Last Saturday was my first time leading that training since before my failed suicide attempt in August 2015. I think, overall, it went fairly well. I was definitely a little rusty, but I’m probably the only one that noticed. My presentation, to me, was below standard, but when I conduct suicide training, I set a very high standard for myself.

My first line leader at my battalion tasked me with facilitating the mandatory suicide awareness training for one of my unit’s detachments. Friday I drove to the city where the detachment is located, made sure I knew where the building was located, and then checked into a hotel. I then went over the presentation in my mind. Then over it again. And again. Again. I slept horribly Friday night, but woke up an hour before my alarm Saturday morning so I stayed awake. My mind was racing. If you read Not Done Yet from last month, you can see the anxiety I was having leading up to this weekend.

It wasn’t decided until a week before that I would be going to this detachment, as opposed to our other detachment. That really didn’t add very much stress to me, it doesn’t matter to me where I conduct the training. Send me, I’ll go. But right before I left town to make my trip to the detachment, I found out my battalion commander would also be visiting that detachment the same weekend. That, for some reason, added pressure and anxiety to my view of the mission. I was unsure how I would I do my first time back in leading suicide awareness training and I did not want to crash and burn in front of my commander.

I was originally scheduled to give my class in the morning. But because sometimes things run long or events on the training schedule get swapped, I was pushed back to after lunch. That also added to my anxiety, if only because I was prepared to go but got pushed back. I wanted to do it and get over with. The longer I thought about it, the harder it was for me focus. I didn’t even enjoy my lunch because I was completely absorbed with the class I was to present and whether I was going to be able to accomplish it without losing my mind or breaking down emotionally. I know, I was overthinking it.

When I started the class, I was scared to death. Not of speaking in front of a group, I actually enjoy doing that. But I was uneasy with the subject matter and how I was going to respond to talking about suicide intervention and getting a Soldier or someone else help that needs it. I felt confident, but I had no idea if I were really going to be able to get through it. But I did. And I don’t think anyone could tell I was terrified of what was going on in my mind. I think I made some progress with myself.

Saturday evening I went back to my hotel. My mind had yet to slow down. It was like watching a video on an old VCR and hitting fast forward while a movie was playing. The stressful part had passed, I thought, but I was still feeling it. I laid down before 10pm, but it was after 1am before I fell asleep. I could not shut off my brain. I had to relive it all in my mind everything. The time leading up to my suicide attempt, the feelings I experienced at the time, the aftermath, the recovery process, my time in the hospital, a near relapse 11 months after my original attempt, and where I am now. Overwhelming. My little brain was having trouble processing it all. And that affected me physically, by not being able to fall asleep.

I know there will be many times to come that my brain has no idea how to deal with something. I know I will lose sleep from time to time overthinking things. But I am handling the consequences of being overwhelmed much better than I have previously. And knowing how my brain and my body deal with these matters and letting the process run its course will relieve some anxiety, I think. Or I hope. I don’t know. But I think if I know what’s coming it will make it easier.

I still have no idea where I am with my army reserve career. I don’t know if I’m coming or going, staying in or getting out. And to be honest, the uncertainty is annoying. It is very hard to find motivation when I feel like I am trapped in a broken system. I won’t get into the army process and how broken it is when dealing with a Soldier in my predicament. But I will say that sometimes it’s hard to tell which is more frustrating, the VA or the army. I just want to know if I’m going to remain in the reserves or if I’m done. Either way, I’m happy with and proud of my career.

We’ll have to wait and see what the future holds. And despite the present being unclear on the issue of my army reserve career, I’m happy to be in the present. It’s better than where I was 18 months ago. Thanks for reading this week. Good day, God bless.

Dave

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Making Progress

I have finished Chapter 5 of the book I’m writing. Finally! I took an extended break from writing and when I came back to it, I had to re-read some of what I previously wrote to get back on track. In doing so, I ended up re-writing and correcting and re-writing and correcting and…. I do a similar thing when cleaning out a closet, a dresser, or box of stuff that has collected over the years. I make a huge mess, reminisce about what’s there, then usually put it all back. It’s time-consuming and sometimes feels like wasting time. But even if slowly, I am moving forward with the book.

The word count for my book through Chapter 5 is over 45,000 words. That’s half way to my target of 90,000 words. It’s shaping up pretty nicely I think. There’s still a ton of work to do on what is already written, but I’m going to try to just let that sit so I can focus on getting the rest of the book written, and then go back and edit. But as I mentioned, when I have to go back to re-read some of it from time to time to make sure I have good flow with the story, I’ll get stuck refining what’s already written and finding mistakes. But it’s a process. And I’m feeling good about it.

Here’s a short excerpt from Chapter 5. In this piece, the main character, James, is still stuck on the second day of being in the psych ward after a failed suicide attempt. He has already been to his morning session with the psychiatrist, a session which was very trying on him, and is now about to get lunch. I hope you enjoy this short excerpt. Thanks for reading this week. Good day, God bless.

Dave

(From Chapter 5)

James kept thinking to himself and occasionally mumbling, “This is only the second day.” He hated that he was lied to about day two being better. James was convinced there was a conspiracy against him and he had to figure out how to keep from falling into their plan. He was certain that he could not be helped in the hospital. James started having a conversation in his mind about how much worse he felt in the last two days than in the time leading up to his failed suicide attempt. The voices in his mind were reminding him that he was a failure and offering suggestions for next time. They scoffed at him for not being man enough to handle his problems and being a miserable disappointment to everyone. The voices assured him that he would be able to succeed in his quest to die once he was released from the hospital, that he only needed to be patient long enough to persuade the doctor and staff into thinking he was well enough to leave. Then he could finish the job and be free from the numbing anguish of life that he dragged behind him like a ship’s anchor.

This was not the first time James had a conversation with the voices in his head. This was, however, the first time he felt like he and the voices were on the same sheet of music, that he would stop fighting them and give in to their whims. James was accepting that the voices could help him and he believed the things they were telling him. He knew the voices were right, that he would be better off dead, that he was a burden to Kevin, that Donna could do better without him, and that his brother had enough on his plate that he would probably be relieved to not have to worry about James anymore.

In the past, the voices brought fear and turmoil to James, but now he found comfort in their existence and trusted their ideas. The voices were the only thing he trusted anymore. Since he had become unable to make decisions for himself, he now considered the voices an asset. James would now follow their lead and no longer fight or question their motives. The voices were going to lead him down the path of their choosing and he was going to follow, no questions, no resistance. He became oddly calm in accepting the fate that the voices were laying out for him. If he could only find a way to be released from the hospital, he could get a second chance at death.