Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Triggers...not that kind of trigger.

For the longest time, when I drove by the parking lot when I tried to end it all, I used to get really anxious.  I could feel my heart racing and want to climb out of my skin.  I wouldn't call it a panic attack but I would definitely get nervous and not feel good.  My therapist pointed out to me that it was a trigger.  Triggers can be a place or a thing or a song or even a person.  For me, it was commuter parking lot.  As I would leave that area, things would settle and I would go about my day.  

So one day, I decided to face my trigger by driving back to the parking lot and parking in the same spot that I did on that terrible July day.  It was warm, not quite as warm as that day, but warm enough. I turned off the car and sat in the silence and listened to my body.  Everything was quiet, painfully quiet. I could hear the blood pumping through my veins.  I could feel the hairs on my arms stand a little bit.  I closed my eyes and could see the police cars surround me.  I could see the massive SWAT vehicle park itself directly in front of my little Chevy Malibu.  I was able to see all of the guys get out of their vehicles and set their weapons on me.  

At that moment, I was back at that very day.  It was almost a year later and yet, it felt as if I was still in the moment.  I began to feel my shirt sticking to me with sweat, as my heart was pounding to keep up with my breathing.  I began to relive the phone conversation with Theresa and felt the anger when I realized that she had contacted the police.  I felt the sting of the sweat getting in my eyes as I wiped the tears from my face.  I could sense the dread again as I came to realize that none of this was going as planned and I had made several key mistakes. My choices were dwindling and none of them good.

Then I noticed the smell of fresh cut grass.  Within seconds, I heard the growl of a poorly tuned lawn mower getting louder and louder.  I opened my eyes and was back in the present.  While the step back was incredibly uncomfortable, for me, it was necessary.  I needed to walk through each moment of that day to remind myself of how fortunate I was that I called the Suicide Prevention Hotline.  And that Theresa kept me on the line while the police tracked me down.  I had to remind myself of the look of sadness in my wife's eyes when she walked into the emergency room and held me.  It was probably the worst day of my life.  And probably the best day of my life. 

It's a little easier for me now.  I can drive by that parking lot and not get worked up. It's not a trigger for me. I admit, it's not my first choice of places to go hang out, but it no longer has that hold over me.  I needed to take back my control over that place.  It was a little easier for me than for others who's trigger may be a person.  I had the ability to have some control over it.  I could choose to go there or avoid it. Not everyone is so lucky with their triggers. 

I guess if you are aware of a trigger, get some help facing it and staring it down.  There is often a feeling of helplessness that goes along with depression.  Recognize the things that you can control and work on those things.  Don't do it alone. Find someone that can help you along that battle.  Sometimes, you just need someone to sit with you and hold your hand.  

Depression is a bitch and I don't say that lightly.  Don't let it own you.  Reach out to the Suicide Prevention Hotline if you need to talk to someone,  800-273-8255.

Whats your trigger?  

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Asking for help

 This has to be one of the best ads I have ever seen:

This is another cool one:

As a society, we have made up this stupid notion that being strong means not asking for help.  It's just plain stupid.  I don't get it.  Because we can't see our emotions, they aren't real?  But a broken leg is somehow different?  

I can see the bone sticking out and since I am not an orthopedist, I better go talk to one.  

But lack of expertise in how the mind works is somehow different?  The person that has gone to school for eight years and has been working in the field for even longer doesn't know more than me.  Um, thats not really correct.  

I normally wouldn't pitch or promote something but I think this one is different.  Go check these guys out;


Friday, April 1, 2022

Someone else's definition of success...

I have a feeling this is going to be one of those posts that I will delete in a few days, after I look at it with a clearer head. 

I am not in a good place today.  I am realizing that at 52 years of age, it's probably time for me to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.  And yet, I am further from knowing now then when I was 18.  In fact, I am farther from knowing.  I have been successful but I am starting to realize that I have been using someone else's definition of success.  

I had to take an EQ assessment for work which is an emotional intelligence thing.  It measures how I see myself and how I connect with the rest of the world.  I scored quite well on empathy but my measurements for how I see myself were...not good.  Apparently, getting beaten up at work for 4 years has an impact on you.  Who knew?  Ok, I guess I knew but I didn't realize just to what extent.  The report went on to say pretty clearly that I am not in thrive mode, rather, survive mode.   It said alot of things but the bottom line was not good.  

It's hard to ignore things when someone holds a mirror up to you and points out that massive zit on your face. I would like to say that ignorance is bliss but I have to be honest, I knew that the zit was there.  Having said that, I wish that I was blissfully ignorant.  I think I have been pretending for awhile that things are good.  Things are not, I am not well.  I am having a hard time finding joy in my life.  I see every day as the same.  There is little to look forward to.  I often ask myself what makes me happy and I can't seem to land on something.  

Somedays are worse than others.  I work from home and I hate it.  I don't get to socialize or collaborate.  I was remote before COVID came along and actually, COVID helped because then everyone else had to be intentional about connecting with others in a virtual world.  I was no longer the odd man out.  But I still feel lonely.  There are some days when I don't talk to anyone.  I hate it.  But I have to accept the truth that even on a good day, I am not finding the joy in my life.  The good days just suck a little less.  

Before the report, I didn't feel good but I wasn't in a terrible place and I guess thats part of the problem.  Unless I am planning to suck on the end of a gun, I tell myself that I am fine.  And that is not the case. I am overwhelmed right now and I am not sure why.   I just feel alot of despair and that is not a good thing.  

I do not have a plan to kill myself but I would not be sad if a bus fell on me.  Thats what the smart people in coats call a "passive suicidal ideation."  Not enough to get me locked up for three days but clearly, not a good thing.  If you are feeling that way, something isn't right.  

Ok, so I am going to make a commitment to you and the numerous bots from Russia and China that are reading this that I am going to speak to my wife about this. I am going to say something tonight.  I need to think about what I am going to say so that I don't just start bawling like a 6 year old girl.  I doubt she will be surprised; I am not good at playing poker.  I guess I will just give her a heads up and ask for her perspective.  

I will check back in a couple days and either give an update or pull this down.  

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Bad day

Today, I had a bad day at work. Nothing catastrophic, but a bad day. I got jumped by my boss, who I think is feeling heat from her boss. You know how this goes, shit always rolls downhill. 

I have had quite a few bad days recently. Actually, quite a few bad months. Maybe it’s time for me to look elsewhere?

For a brief moment, I considered checking out. And then I immediately thought of how that would impact my family.  One of the great gifts of my attempt a few years ago was Theresa asking me who would walk my girls down the aisle.  Go back to one of the other posts where I share that one.  That has stuck with me.   Make no mistake, suicide is selfish and only thinking of yourself.  So you need to occasionally remind yourself of that.  

Depression sucks. It just plain sucks. It’s not like breaking your arm and everyone wants to sign the cast. (Do they still do that?)  I had Covid last year and was getting calls and texts from friends and family.  No one ever knows what the hell to say when it comes to depression. 

Hope you're feeling better soon?  

Soap box moment; please stop with the cut and paste posting in Facebook about how you will put on a pot of coffee and sit with anyone that is struggling with depression. Its a nice sentiment but its such bullshit. You wanna help someone?  Reach out to someone you haven’t heard from in awhile and ask how they are doing. Don't just wait for someone to ask for help.  Its like watching someone down and waiting for them to ask for help.  It’s not someone else’s job, it’s yours. Be proactive.  Ok, I am done.

I guess my point today is to be mindful of how your actions will impact others.  Suicide is permanent.  You take the easy way out and let everyone else pick up the pieces.  Thats pretty crappy.  I know life is tough, believe me.  But will this matter in a year?  Will the shit you are dealing with today still be a problem?  Yeah, sometimes it will still be.  But don't make a permanent decision for a temporary problem.

And for the rest of you, stop with the cute little bullshit about how you will always be there for your friends in need.  If you really mean that, pick up the phone and reach out to someone that you haven't herd from in awhile.  Say right now what you wish you had said if you were standing around someone's casket. 

Thursday, February 3, 2022

It's ok...

Going back to that July afternoon; by now I have now had my first brush with a SWAT team and had a dozen guns pointed at me, gotten my first ride in the back of a police car, and had handcuffs on.  All in all, a wonderful afternoon of firsts.  So let's proceed to the ER at the hospital; the destination of my first police car ride.  

I think we can all agree that at that point, I was in what is referred to as "in crisis."  

I was led into the ER and passed through the waiting room.  So I guess I was getting the VIP treatment.  I was taken into a room and offered a seat.  Sitting with handcuffs behind your back is not what I would refer to as comfortable.  

An officer was standing in the doorway, I guess to make sure that I didn't take the cuffs off and tear the place up.  Actually, I kinda understood why they left them on.  When I was in college I worked at a psych unit in a hospital.  I had seen more than my fair share of guys that tried to do just that with limited success. 

After a few moments of silence, the office stepped out of the room and then came in.  He said that if I continued to be calm, they would take the cuffs off. I was reminded that this was based on my continued cooperation.  
Emergency Department and a suicide attempt

As the blood began to flow through my hands again, I enjoyed the moment of silence.  It was several moments and quite honestly, all of the morning's events was kinda sensory overload.  It was cool in that ER room and no one pointing a gun at me or yelling at me was a welcome relief.  I was finally able to shut out much of my surroundings.  

I think I mentioned the 12 year old officer that was trying to make small talk with me during the period of no cuffs in an earlier post.  Was a bit odd, to say the least.  But the quiet allowed my mind to slow down a bit.  

And then my wife walked in.  

She did not run in and scold me or anything dramatic.  She simply knelt down to hug me.  I had never been so embarrassed in my life.  I had truly failed as her husband and partner.  I can say so with no hesitation that was the absolute lowest moment in my life.  Obviously, my thinking was still quite distorted and I was not well.  At that moment, all I could do was hate myself even more for not having the balls to go through with it.  If only I had just pulled the trigger, I wouldn't have to face this moment.  

How fucking selfish of me.  

Even though I had it all figured out so that I would park somewhere so that the family wouldn't have to deal with me and that I would shoot myself outside so no one would have to clean up, I was still so clueless about the effects.  And as I sat there with my wife holding me, and shame washing all over me, all I could do was think of how I could have avoided this moment by pulling the trigger.  

I tried to fight the tears but was unsuccessful.  I began shaking as she held me tighter.  She continued to tell me that it was ok and that we would get through this.  That she loved me and that I was going to get the help I needed.  My spiral into despair continued.  I did not deserve her and she certainly did not deserve me.  I couldn't look at her and I couldn't hug her.  I have done lots of stupid shit in my life for which I was mortified upon realization, but this was the absolute worst.  It would have been so much better if she had come in and told me what a fucking asshole I was.  But she just had to the take the damn empathetic and loving approach.  Damn her.  

I was no longer that tough guy that proudly walked out of Cabelas with a new gun.  I was a shattered man that has reached rock bottom. Actually, that guy was pretty shattered but had yet to face any of it. Well, it was now time to face the reality of my mental health.  

The point of this one is to remind you that when you are in a serious depression, it is impossible to think ahead.  The fallout of your actions is the furthest thing from you at that point.  Really, I had not yet begun to face the fallout but it was the very beginning of realizing just how selfish I was being.  I had devastated the people that I loved and loved me.  I had put them through something that no one should ever have to go through.  And not accepting responsibility for that would be the shittiest thing ever.  

Don't kid yourself, you can't do this alone.  You cannot cure your cancer on your own.  You cannot diagnose your diabetes on your own.  Talk to someone.  And dont beat yourself up once you get to the place of realizing you need help. Push the self hatred to the side, you have time for that later.  

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Buying a gun

I am struggling with this one as I do not want to provide anyone with a step by step process on how to kill ones self.  But this is mostly for my befit and remembering what the head I was thinking when I did this.  This isnt to tell you how to do this, this is to show you the idiocy of what I was doing and thinking. 

If you have been reading my previous posts, you are probably picking up that I am not a fan of guns.  I had never own one prior to the one that I purchased to kill myself.  I had no idea what to look for in a gun.  I didn't really need it to have too many bells and whistles since I didn't expect to use it more than once.  Thats a pretty bad joke but its true.  

It was July 2, 2017.  A typical hot summer day in Virginia.  My wife and I had another fight that morning.  I can't say I know what it was about.  I was in a really dark place and wasn't all that pleasant.  I do vividly remember saying to her that she never considers how she makes others feel. At that point, nothing she could have said would have made me feel better and I was likely deflecting.  I hopped on my motorcycle and drove to the the nearest Cabela's to look at their guns.  At that point, I didn't really have a specific plan in mind, just that I knew that I needed a gun to make it happen. 

I am 6'2, 260 lbs and strutting in all of the swagger of someone riding a big V-Twin motorcycle.  I have a suspicion that as I approached the display case, the guys behind them figured that I knew what I wanted and it would be a quick transaction.  

"Morning, what are you looking for?"

"Um, not sure.  I guess I am just looking right now"

"OK, just holler when you need to see something."

Honestly, I had no clue what I was looking for.  I just wanted something that I could put bullets in and shoot them.  But as I looked at all of the handguns, I decided I needed something cool looking.  I guess the notion of someone finding me with a hole in my head and a lame handgun in my hand was just unacceptable.  

So I held a few, looking like a knew what I was doing, and selected a Smith and Wesson SD40.  Below is a picture of it.  Looks kinda manly and cool, doesn't it?  

SD VE | Smith & Wesson

If you said yes, you are wrong.  

I think it was $350 or something like that. I said that I will take it but before I could wrap up my new purchase, I had to pass a background check.  This had to be the stupidest process I have ever experienced.  

The guy directed me to a computer and had me fill out some questions.  After a few minutes, I learned that I failed the background check.  I said that I had no idea why I would have failed, I have no felonies or anything unusual.  In fact, I had a government clearance and if you can pass one of those, you sure as hell should be able to pass a gun background check.  This is where it got weird.

The guy, who I learned was a police officer, picking up some side cash at Cabela's, suggested that I retake the check and this time, I should reconsider my answers and change some.  That I may have been over thinking some or one of the questions.  He then smiled and winked at me.  I answered them all honestly.  but then went I went back and retook it, this question jumped out at me:

Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?

I answered honestly that I had previously smoked weed.  Thinking that some weed 20 years ago wasn't that big of a deal.  But since that could be the only one that was preventing me from taking home the sweet tool of death,  I decided to say that I had not.  

And low and behold, I passed.  

How fucking stupid. 

Anyway, I picked out a box of ammo that the moonlighting cop suggested as his preferred bullets.  

And with that, I walked out with a shiny new gun and box of bullets.  Walking through the store, I felt so proud of my purchase.  I could feel all of the jealous eyes on me.  Yeah, this baby was gonna blow a beautiful hole in my skull that they would all envy. For the first time in my 47 years, I had my very own gun.  

I shoved the box in my shirt and carefully rode straight home.  I found a safe place in my garage to hide it until I would need it.  I loaded the bullets in the magazine and practiced my best Dirty Harry, feeling strong and powerful.  All the while, I knew what the purpose of the gun was.  That its one and only purpose would do the job.  

You know the drill and I do not want this to seem flip, but if you are hurting and need to talk to someone, please call the Suicide Prevention hotline at 800-273-8255.  

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

My greatest fear...

So let's talk about something other than me trying to blow my head off for a bit, shall we?  

I am about to turn 51.  Typically, at this point in life, one begins to look in the mirror and assess what has transpired the past 50 years.  I have a beautiful wife and wonderful kids.  I have done well for myself and have many nice toys.  But its fair to say that no one will be erecting libraries in my honor after I am gone.  

I often  think about my grandfather that I barely knew.  He fought in WWI and lost half of his face in Belgium. He laid on the battlefield for three days before he crawled off, over the bodies of his buddies.  He then walked a few dozen miles to find help.  He was then flown back to the states where he spent a year at a hospital in Baltimore before being sent back home in the midwest. To say he was a badass would be an understatement.  

I have very hazy memories of him.  I think I was 4 years old when he died.  As I got older, I learned more about the hard life he experienced when he got home. What we now know as PTSD that many soldiers deal with, he was branded as "shellshocked".  And back then, it was not well understood or accepted. I had such admiration for this man that I barely knew.  And while I share his story with my children, they do not have the same connection to him.  I suspect that when I am gone, he will be nothing more than a few faded photos hidden in albums.  But almost 50 years later, I still think of him.  

I have a morbid fascination with cemeteries.  Always have.  Let's be clear, I did not spend my teenage years dressed as a goth, spending my free time in them.  No, I just enjoyed the quiet,  Anyway, whenever I pass by one, I cannot help but consider all of the lives that each stone represents.  That stone represents someone's father, mother, son, daughter, uncle, aunt, etc. Some stones are massive and others are more modest.  There are untold stories beneath each one, that will never be told.  It's kind of like when you look at a photo filled with people who were living full and possibly exciting lives.  And now, they are nothing more than a small card with their image.  

I am beginning to realize that my greatest fear is for my life to pass unnoticed.  I did not fight in the Great War.  I did not invent anything. My name will never appear on the big screen.  And for the most part, I am ok with that.  Raising three girls to be strong, independent women who value themselves is quite an accomplishment.  The fact that none of them are swinging from a pole is a win for me.  Sure, there will be plenty of therapy sessions that will focus on the impact of my poor decisions but who doesn't have those sessions with their therapists?

I am not sure how to reconcile this one, other than to acknowledge that someday I will be just an image in a year book and a name inscribed on a stone.  Yeah, I know; I am caring too much about something that is completely out of my control and giving this way too much thought.  But this is my show, I write it.    

Anyway, not sure what my point is for this post.  Perhaps its to document what I have been thinking lately.  I hope that in a year or two I will re-read this and say how fucking dumb this is because none of it matters.  But today, it matters.