I’m a recovering alcoholic/addict with 11 years, 5 months, 24 days of sobriety(yeah, I still count days), codependent, with anxiety, bipolar type 2, and A.D.D. I’m also very, very open about all of my issues. I hid behind a facade of being a badass for so very long and still have to catch myself after all this time. The story I’ll share is about one of my darkest points in my life. I was living in KY, dating an absolutely lunatic, recovering from a back injury that essentially ended my firefighting life by self medicating with handfuls of pain pills and liqueur all day, every day. The dark voice (part of the joy of bipolar) was screaming full force and I was listening to every horrible thing it told me and believing it to be true.
I sat on my bed with a .40 cal with an expanding round in the chamber, with it pointed at my face. I was a sobbing, drunk, high mess. There was an absolute void of all light. I couldn’t focus on any of the great things I actually had in my life. I was ready to end it. I hadn’t been diagnosed with bipolar yet. I didn’t know there was a way to get better and couldn’t stand the thought of living this way for the rest of my life.
I had my trembling finger on the trigger when I heard someone call me over the radio. I ignored it. “224, my unit number as a firefighter, come in. We’re heading out eat. Meet us there”. It was just a hollow sound that my brain blocked out mostly. As I sat there and continued to point this gun at my face with all intent to end it all a beep come through the Nextel communicator “224, come on, man. We’re eating and then we’re fishing. Move it”.
At this point the very tiniest of lights shone through all the dark in my head. Through all the rage and despair there was one almost totally imperceivable faint bit of light.
Over the radio, “224, we’ll be there in 15 to get you. You better not be naked.” And with that one smartass remark it was like the light forged it’s way through my head like an entire battalion. Something snapped in my head. How had I gotten here? How had I gotten this bad and this dark? What am I doing? I’m not a religious man, but I believe there is something bigger than us out there. I asked for help. I can’t do this on my own. I put the gun down and sobbed some more and tried to clean myself up so I wouldn’t have to explain why I was crying. I couldn’t be honest about being in pain then.
I went to eat and did some fishing. Didn’t catch much, but I never do. Having my brothers reach out to me at that exact moment saved my life. They don’t know it. I guess after all these years I should let them know.
Not long after this it was kind of decided for me that I needed to leave KY or I was going to die. I moved home and within 6 months made it to A.A. and shortly after that I was diagnosed with bipolar type 2. I implore people to take their meds. I know we can’t trust our own brains. I have what I call Fuck You, Brains moments. When that dark voice starts to tell me that I can have a drink or I don’t need my meds, I will stand in front of the mirror, look myself dead in the eye, and say “fuck you, brain”. I will say it as many times as I need too. There is something wildly cathartic about calling yourself out on your own BS. It helps me every. Single. Time. I have other people that do it now too and they also say it works. Knowing that I can do something to help people helps me make up for the lying, cheating, thieving, self serving violent psychopath I could be when I was an active alcoholic/addict.
I don’t care if I get a gift certificate. I just want to help people. As soon as I get a full time job I’ll buy more DBM gear either way. Please don’t not share this because there’s the suicide trigger factor. We need to know that there is light even at our darkest and most horrible moments, if we let it in. Keep promoting mental health awareness and working toward ending the stigma. We need some very loud voices promoting the normalization of mental health issues.