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 guess 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.  


Tuesday, February 23, 2021

How to change a tire.

I still have alot of bad days.  Days when I wish that I would have been successful in the parking lot a few years ago.  Not really serious, just pondering how things would have turned out.  And sometimes, those days turn into weeks and I am find myself in a very dark, lonely, and familiar place.  And then the thinking  becomes distorted and you start making sense out of nothing.  

Recently, I had several of those days strung together.  So it was about a week of sitting in my dark hole.  At some point, probably by day three, my thoughts drifted into wondering how much better everyone would be if I was gone.  Then it begins to gain steam and you start thinking about how it could really work.  How your wife would have a huge pile of cash from your life insurance. And don't just assume that because you have life insurance that it will pay out if you kill yourself.  It doesn't always.  

Anyway, by day four I was in a very bad place.  It was probably day six or seven in July a few years ago by the time that I went out and bought the gun so the slide begins picking up steam after day three.  Unfortunately, you tend to lose the ability to step back and realize that you have been on this ride before.  You can only see a foot in front of you so forget about what lies ahead.  Its all about the hurt you are feeling at the moment.  

Its weird how well you remember certain moments in your life with absolute clarity.  Part of the reason that I started this blog was to help me remember the moments of that July afternoon in the parking lot.  I never wanted to forget how badly I hurt and the mess that I created as a result.  Some of the moments have grown a little fuzzy over the years so I want to retain those memories.  The event I am about to share is seared into my brain like nothing else that I have ever experienced.  

I work from home and was sitting at my desk.  When I am in a bad place, I don't get much work done.  I daydream alot and have no focus.  That was definitely going on.  I was actively thinking about how much better off my family would be if I just drove out somewhere and finished the job.  I had it all figured out about how much cash my wife would have and how she could start over.  How my children didn't need me in their lives.  Total stupidity but thats where I was.  And then I got a call.  

It was around 2 in the afternoon when my 17 year old daughter called.  

"Dad, one of the tires on my car blew and I am on the side of the road.  What do I do?"

"Where is the car?  Are you in a safe place from the road?"

"Yes, I am on a back road and there is no traffic."

"I am on my way."

Thank God for being able to track your kids on their phones, I was able to find her right away and shot out the door.  I am not an overly religious person but I have never felt the presence of God as much as I did at that very moment.  I felt as if God had just hit me with a 2x4 to remind me that my family does need me.  I was a little sick to my stomach as I drove to my daughter.  If I was gone, who would she have called?  Yeah, she may have called a tow truck, but at 17, I doubt she would have come to that decision right away.  


I got there and made it a point to have her change it with me giving instructions over her shoulder.  I tightened everything up after she was done and she was on her way home within 20 minutes of me getting there. 

I could no longer deny the fact that my family needed me.  Not just because I could change a tire or financially provide, but also because I made great french toast.  Because I told the best dad-jokes. Because I would regularly explain why Empire Strikes Back is the most important film in the entire Star Wars films.  My family needs me not just for one reason but for many.  And for me to take myself out of the picture would be incredibly selfish.  

If you are hurting and having a tough time seeing the bigger picture, dont' go it alone.  No matter what you may think, someone gives a shit about you.  It may not be someone you expect but that person is out there.  And you are needed.  Call Suicide Prevention at 800-273-8255.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

I just want to shave...

After the morning meeting, we all shuffled down the hall towards a large room that doubled as the cafeteria and the family visitation room.  The walk down to the cafeteria was a journey of wonder and excitement.  Would we have crepes?  Belgium waffles?  Salmon and capers on New York bagels?  The anticipation was enough to break out the lorazepam.  

But before making it to our destination, we would stop by a small room to get morning medications and have our vitals taken.  On the first day, I asked the tech taking my blood pressure for a razor so that I could get the week of growth that was overtaking my face.  Without looking up at me, the young lady told me that I needed to ask the charge nurse for permission at the morning meeting tomorrow.  

Permission?  

Oh, that's right; several of us in here want to kill ourselves.  Alright, not terribly unexpected.  So I had to wait another day.  Damn.  Having completed my newly increased dosage of Zoloft, I was continuing my journey to see what culinary delights awaited me.  

As I entered the cafeteria I was disappointed not to see a buffet line or a carving station.  No large table of cut fresh fruit.  What I find was a lovely spread of pre-wrapped cinnamon rolls and juices in small cups, similar to what you would use for a urine specimen. And when I say pre-wrapped, I mean the kind you see at a 7-11.  Nothing that might require a knife, because, well...its a knife.  And we all know how much damage one can do with plastic ones.  Ok, I suppose if you are really determined, you could manage a good welt with a plastic knife.  

Lets fast forward to the morning meeting on day two when we are all going around and talking about our goals for the day.  When it was my turn, I said I wanted to get a razor so I could shave.  

"You need to position it as a goal"

WTF

"I just want to shave."

"How can you make it a goal?"

At this point, I now feel like the monkey tied to a music box, holding up a cup for coins from passerby's. 

"Would like to build the trust of the staff to gain access to a razor."

"Nice job, lets see how the day goes."

Clink<sound of coins dropping in cup>

At the end of the day, I was given 5 minutes with a razor under the watchful eye of one of the techs.  And just a word of advice, dont expect to get a shave similar to the quality of a Gillette.  Think of using your wife or girlfriend's razor that they use on their legs for the past month.  


The point of this posting was the reality of being in a psych unit; you are there to show them that you are making progress, not so much about actually making progress.  Once you are past the stabilization stage and you are no longer a danger to yourself or others, you are there to show them that.  This was a difficult one for me.  It began to feel like a giant power struggle.  And until I was ready to accept that, it would be a very painful stay.  

Having said this, if you need help, get it.  Dont do this alone.  Some people need the safety of a psych unit.  And frankly, I guess I did, too.  But know going in that its not a magical place where people are there to heal you.  They are there to "stop the bleeding."  They want to get you safe and out of crisis and get you out.  And along the way, treat you a bit like a trained monkey.  

Saturday, October 31, 2020

The people you see at Wawa...

I get up around 5:00am each weekday and drive up to my job about 30 miles from my house.  Its a hellish drive, takes about an hour and a half and two hours in the evening.  DC traffic is the devil.  So each morning, I stop and get coffee, typically at a nearby 7/11 or Wawa.


In the fall of 2018, one blurry-eyed, chilly morning, I pulled into Wawa and found a parking spot next to a police car.  Nothing unusual, just a couple of cops in their squad car, chatting.  I got out and went in to get my cup of rocket fuel to get through the drive.  While pouring, police officers came in.  One of which was the female officer that spoke to me in that commuter lot last July.

<gulp>


I am not sure that I have ever been "triggered" before so I was never certain what that meant, until that very moment.  Standing at the coffee counter, I was instantly transported back to that moment in July of 2017.  Feeling the sweat and heat of that day, sitting in my car, pressing the gun against my head.  Overcome with despair and hopelessness that rocked me to my very core.

The officers immediately walked to the coffee counter and began pouring cups for themselves.  They continued to chat about someone in their department that was requiring everyone to complete additional training that neither felt was necessary.  They did not appear to notice me soaking in everyone word spoken by the two of them, but the woman's voice was drilling into my brain.

They were chatting about someone they worked with and how they had an issue with something this person had said.  To be honest, that was about all I could make out.  I just could not take my eyes off that woman.  

As I sat in the car that July day, soaked in sweat and panic as the SWAT team began to take their positions around me, her voice was like a lifeline that I couldn't decide if I should take.  I knew that the day would not end well, regardless of what I decided.  But her soft approach was welcome after the previous officer's more direct and hard tone.  She seemed to be empathic to the mess I was in and less threatening.  I guess her approach just spoke to me and encouraged me to take the path of less bullets flying into me.  

Within moments, they paid for their coffee and were back in their vehicle.  I instantly regretted not approaching her and thanking her for her help that day.  I wanted her to know that for all of the shit that they likely deal with, her work that day was greatly appreciated not only by me but my family, as well.  

Pretty sure the people behind me are getting pissed at my slow pace.  I snapped out of the moment I was sent back to and finished up. 

I know that I will forever carry the events of that day and look forward to not panicking as the anniversary of that day approaches.  But until then, I will alway be watching for that officer as I get my morning cup of coffee.  


Monday, September 28, 2020

This isn't about anything other than the person and his family...

Last night, amid all of the Twitter frenzy about Trumps tax avoidance, there was a story that, while not getting the same attention, was getting traction.  Brad Parscale, former Trump campaign manager was hospitalized for suicide attempt.  

https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/27/politics/brad-parscale-hospitalized/index.html

I have to admit, I struggled with whether or not to share the link.  I am in no way, shape or form, a Trump fan.  And my post about this is not about Trump or a commentary on his campaign.  I am not wanting to draw attempting to Trump or the man at the center of the story.  But in reality, it's just me, you and a half dozen bots reading this blog so I doubt it's going matter much.  

First of all, I grieve for Brad and his family. Being at this place in his life and then to have it plastered all over the Internet must be a nightmare.  Right now, he and his family need to focus on him and getting through this crisis.  He isn't even out of the hospital.  And now, 64 million of his closest friends know about this.  Instead of thinking of what brought him to this place, I cannot help but believe that he is thinking about damage control for his own reputation, let alone for that turd he worked for.  Of course, I am speculating but I do remember having to get a hold of a phone so that I could explain my absence from the office without raising too many eyebrows.  I imagine that Brad may be thinking the same.  

And the news is usually playing in the day room so its not like he isn't aware that the world knows about this.  

Right now, there are some on the left that are taking joy of kicking Brad while he is down and seeing this as an analogy for the Trump campaign.  And that is wrong.  This is not about Trump.  It's about Brad and his family.  

Leave him the fuck alone. 

At some point, I imagine that Brad will make a connection to Trump and losing his job as campaign manager this summer to his current mental health.  And that is a pretty fair connection.  We tend to wrap our self identity to our jobs and to fall so hard and so publicly will, without a doubt, have an impact.  But this isn't about politics.  Its about a human being hurting in a way that can destroy oneself.  

Be a decent person and stop talking about Brad.  Say a little prayer for him and his family. 

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Welcome to the psych unit

My intent of this post is to simply share my experience and memorialize it.  Since there are about two people who have read my blog so far as well as several thousand Russian bots, I am just gonna tell it like it was.

As I set out that morning to do what I intended, it never dawned on me that I make not be able to do it and there would be aftermath.  If you are suicidal, you are not thinking clearly and the depression makes it nearly impossible to see past your nose.

After the several hours in the ER of being asked if I was still thinking of hurting myself and what insurance I had, I was finally taken into the psych unit.  This is where it just got weird and surreal for me.

When I was in college, I wanted to be a psychology major.  I wanted to help people and all of that crap.  So I got a job as a behavioral health tech in a psych unit of a medical hospital.  It was a really interesting gig where I assisted people receive electric shock therapy (fascinating and has a totally undeserved reputation), help move patients unable to help themselves, and tie people into beds who needed a shot in the ass.  And by shot in the ass, I mean a shot of thorazine or some other medication so they stopped trying to hurt me or others.

Really incredible experience but it helped me see that I didn't want to work in psychology.  A lot of the people in psych units as you likely are aware) experiences a horrific amount of trauma and I had a hard time letting that go.  And working with the kids was especially difficult.  But that is a story or another day. Anyway, I did that for 3 years until I got a degree in art.

So back to being moved into the psych ward as a patient.

Psych units are pretty drab places, not high of the hospitals list of places to invest in. They are typically pretty sparse so there isn't much for someone to hurt themselves with.  The hall is lined with furniture is huge so it can't be picked up and thrown.  But there are lots of copies of last weeks newspapers and Better Homes and Gardens.  As well, as a 2 year old copy of Sports Illustrated.

I was greeted by a young lady who took me into a small room to get vitals and run down the rules. As if the humiliation had not been enough that day, the hits just kept coming.  Why was it humiliating?  I couldn't tell you. The young lady was nice.  No one was bugging me.  But I was almost old enough to be her dad.  I had been in her very same position 30 years earlier.  I knew the drill. I just it was the realization that I was no different from anyone else that I had ever taken into a small room and gotten a set of vitals and asked if they were still thinking of hurting themselves.

It was now around 6 pm and I had not eaten all day.  Or had much to drink and since I had perspired several gallons so far that day, I was getting pretty dry. I asked for some water and she quickly got me a small tan pitcher filled with crushed ice and water and a styrofoam cup.  Once she gave me the water and the schedule, she asked if I wanted anything to eat and I said no and rolled over on my metal frame and thin layer of cotton, pretending to be a bed and mattress.  I then slept for the next 12 hours like I hadn't slept in years.

I went out to the day room and met my new housemates.  It was a large room with big ugly chairs around the walls and tables in the center.  There was a television up near the ceiling tuned to some home remodeling show. There were about 12 people in the room of various ages.  I was not the oldest nor the youngest.  I found a seat against a wall and began to soak it all in.

After a moment, a young latino man sat down next to me.  He introduced himself as Melvin.  I shook his hand and immediately got nervous.  Why?  I have no idea.  He was a bit rough and had a tattoo under his left eye.  I guess because I really don't run in circles with folks that have facial tattoos.  I was much bigger than Melvin and its not like the psych unit is a type of fight club.  I guess it was just the fact that someone approached me out of the blue.

Melvin asked me why I was there and I kind of grunted that I had a heated discussion with the SWAT team.  That immediately got his attention.

"No shit?"  I think I knew that throwing the SWAT team in there might get a good reaction and Melvin did not disappoint.  "What happened?"  By then, a large woman walked to the center of the room and said good morning.

"I am nurse Helen and I want to go over a few things for our new folks.  We start every day by discussing our goals for the day, get vitals, and then we go to breakfast and begin groups.  We do not spend the day in bed, we need to see you and we need to see you participating.  Your involvement, or lack thereof, will be shared with your physician."

Well, she seems pleasant.  

Everyone then went around the room saying a goal they had for the day.  For most, it was attending a group or speaking with their doctor.  I found it to be condescending.  Just say something that they want to hear.  She got to me and asked what my goal was for the day. I looked at her blankly and said I had no idea.  She looked at her clipboard and then back at me.  "You just got here last night?  We can skip you for today.  But be ready to share a goal for tomorrow."

Tomorrow?  Oh hell no.  I better be gone by noon today.  

She then moved on to Melvin, still sitting next to me who gave a goal of talking to his social worker.  After she finished going around the room, everyone got up and began filing out.  I didn't know what was going on so I stay seated.  Melvin had begun walking towards the door, turned and asked me if I wanted to get breakfast.

Not too sure that I am gonna see an omelette or carving station but what the hell, so I got up and followed.

Ok, more later.  I recently learned that someone else is actually reading these who, I do not believe to be a Russian bot so welcome to my head.