I know, I know- I have been gone forever. And I am sure some of you missed me, and some of you are trying to remember how this blog ended up in your favorites. Either way, yay! Glad to have you here. Now be quiet, pull your chair up, and read.
Let me start of by saying that this is not the blog that I planned on writing for my ReBirthday. I planned on my usual brand of snarcasm, designed to put ALL of you in the why-am-I-reading-this category. But I think that by the end of this blog, you will agree that I chose the right path for today.
Even those living under a rock know what Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is. While most often associated with active duty service members, and veterans, it can affect anyone, of any age/race/religion/shoe size. It can be devastating. Not just to the person who is struggling with it, but literally everyone they come into contact with. It cannot be cured, it cannot be fixed, it will never go away. The best a person with PTSD can hope for is to learn a healthy way to cope, and survive. This is not to say that they are broken people, because they are not- but that doesn’t mean they feel whole. And there may be no way to make them feel whole again- but they should always know that someone, somewhere loves them, and all of their pieces, however scattered they may be.
It is not September, but I am not sure why we only have a suicide prevention month, why not year, decade, or best yet, lifetime. Suicide may be prevalent during a certain time of year, but it always caused by the same thing: Hopelessness. The root cause of that hopelessness may be different- PTSD, mental health, finances, loneliness, whatever- but it leads to the same place. That feeling that all hope is lost, that it will never get better, that love and riches will never come, that happiness is gone forever, that the sun will never shine.
I know this is how it feels firsthand. I have PTSD. I have severe depression. I have chronic illness and pain. None of these things can be cured. I will live the rest of my days with PTSD. With severe depression. With chronic illness and pain. Who wants to live that way? No one, right? I would have agreed with you once upon, no, many times upon a time. And for me, it may not get better, but it will get different. I am both too selfish and not selfish enough to take my own life. And I thank you for your advice, but what worked for you, or even for a million people, may not work for me. Because like so many others that have this same struggle, I feel that I am broken- that something inside of me is broken. I do not want any reassurances that I am not broken, I want you to love me in pieces. I want you to offer me a dustpan and help me collect the pieces. I may never feel whole again, but you can help me make sure that I have all of my pieces.
My point of this whole blog was not to be about me, but to segue into this: that terrible number 22. The average number of veterans that will commit suicide today. And the number 5. The number of active duty service members who will also take their lives today. No suicide is better or worse than another. But these numbers break my heart because these are the men and women who have proven their strength. They already dedicated their lives to the military, to their country, to you, to me. And while they made have made it home from service, most of them left pieces behind. Those pieces are invisible to you and me, but I can assure you that they are felt deeply by the people that left them behind.
I cannot pretend to understand what our veterans are going through, but knowing that 27 of them feel that degree of hopelessness should be disturbing to every single person in this country. I have seen the numbers. I had the training when I held a civilian position within the Army. I have read the heartbreaking stories of those left behind. I have grieved for veterans and their loved ones, whether I knew them or not. But now that includes someone that I knew. Someone who recently left the Army, honorably. Someone that served with B Daddy. Someone in our little Prime Power family. This was not a number, not a faceless statistic, this was someone we shared barbecue and beer with.
Somewhere, somehow, he was failed. To those who argue that he made that final choice- did he? Did he know that it was his choice? Or did he feel that the choice did not exist, that it was not an option? The reality is that we will never know. His brothers and sisters in arms will forever feel the loss. They will forever grieve him. What I can hope for now is that those left behind do not allow pieces of them to be lost with the loss of their friend. The blame game has no winners. Instead, I ask you this favor- that piece of you that you feel was lost with dear Bishop, hang on to that piece. Keep it for that day when you may come across someone who is missing a piece of them. Share it with them. Let them know that you may not be able to make them whole, but that you hope this piece of you helps. And offer to hold their dustpan to help them collect their pieces.
To those struggling with anything in life, I cannot promise that it will get perfect, but it will get bearable. Because you are not alone, and I can promise you that. You have me.