This post must come with a trigger warning: there is graphic talk of suicide and discussion of PTSD. Please know that if you cannot read further, it’s ok — this post made me cry.
When people experience extreme trauma, sometimes they’re unable to process the events. Sometimes the result is life-altering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Left untreated, PTSD can destroy lives of those suffering from it, and everyone with whom they’re in contact. It tears relationships apart, leaves people empty, and often drives them to suicide.
This story breaks my heart. I encourage you all to read it with open hearts, and respect the strength it takes to move beyond trauma and share a story so intimate and personal.
Bill, thank you for your bravery. Thank you for sharing your story. I wish you peace and healing moving forward.
(Names have been changed for privacy.)
Twenty-four years ago, six months to the day after my mother died of an overdose on her bedroom floor, my father put the muzzle of a .357 magnum to his temple and squeezed the trigger.
It took almost twenty-four years for the first PTSD-related “episode” to hit me: All my son could see was his dad, face twisted in torture, with a death grip on a chair. All he could hear was my repeated “No! No!”
Thank God he could not see what I was seeing. Thank God he could not hear what I was hearing.
Four days later, I was in a psychiatrist’s office. His recommendation: intense psychotherapy for Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
I’m going to be getting some help. I am grateful for that. I just wish I could have reached out in time to save my marriage.
Kristine and I had been married twenty-five years. In the end, as hard as she tried, she could not stay in the marriage. I had made it impossible for her. She left, in secret, without penning so much as a note of goodbye.
In the seven and a half months since, she has not communicated a single word to me of any kind. She lets her lawyer do her talking.
I spent the first three months after Kristine’s departure wanting to die. I had never hurt this badly and I had decided that only death could cure my pain. I spent several nights in a mental health unit after a co-worker had listened to me scream my desire to die, and watched as I looked toward the trucks speeding by on the highway. It was as though he could see me eyeing the exact best spot to jump in front of one of those semis.
I somehow managed to keep one step ahead of the suicidal depression. I kept a clean home for my sons and myself. I cooked decent meals, baked bread once a week, and enjoyed the company and and profound love of spiritual friends.
By March, I knew I would not easily reach for death again. I had survived.
The bravest thing I have ever done was to choose life during those initial dark, cold months. To choose life on those mornings when I would wake trembling and sweaty, after having dreamt of her and that she had returned. To choose life, that first Christmas. And to believe enough in life again, that I reached for help.
Like I said, too late to save my marriage, but I just might have a chance of saving me.
The #ShowMeYourBrave Project asks people, “What’s the bravest, scariest, or most intimidating thing you’ve ever done?”. The idea of the project is to share stories of everyday bravery and human resilience to bring us closer together. In sharing, we not only find our voices, but we find support, allies, and others who have faced similar challenges. If you would like to submit your story, we would love to feature your bravery here.