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.