PTSD and Suicidal Thoughts

This morning, my wife asked me if during my darkest days of PTSD, I ever had thoughts of killing my entire family. No. Never. There's a terrible story in the news, one of those murder/suicide "family delete" type tragedies, where a woman had been suffering from PTSD and possibly other things, stemming from a health crisis in one of her young children. I know that it was a little more complicated than that, but the woman was getting help, seeing a therapist, and was on a common type of anti-depressant drug, but still allegedly killed her husband, her three young children ages 2 to 8, and then herself. 

At my absolute lowest point, I was so distressed and afraid that I had contemplated suicide, because I was hurting so badly inside, and didn't know how to stop hurting. A friend of mine had just died of cancer, and others were dying, or having recurrences. I had a terrible cancer recurrence scare myself, and just felt like I was next. I felt doomed and threatened constantly, and just wanted it to end. I knew that suicide wasn't the answer; I had too much to live for, but I was terrified of my cancer coming back, and couldn't bear the thought of having to break such news to my family, having them watch me go through this hell all over again, and possibly having to watch me die a very slow and painful death from it. 

At my worst, I just wanted to be driven out to a field in the middle of nowhere, where no one would ever find me, because I was so spooked and convinced that my cancer was going to come back, and didn't want to hurt anybody else when that happened. I didn't want my children to see their daddy die. I felt so worthless and like a huge liability to my family, and just wanted to be abandoned. I was never a threat to anybody. That was the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013, and it took me all of 2013 to recover from that and get myself on a more even keel again, and a full recovery from PTSD didn't actually come until late-2015. I don't miss those times, but I do remember them like they were yesterday. You can't ever forget it. 

When I hear a story like this in the news, it's like driving a knife into my soul a bit, because I understand pain like this all too well, and I'm so sorry to see a tragedy like this take place. It's a bit haunting as well, because I had been down to my last frayed thread of sanity. I was a completely shattered and broken person inside. I didn't "snap," bit it wouldn't have taken too much to have done so, and to have been that close still hurts to think about, even many years later.

I'm not going to read about this story (I can't), and so I'm not going to assume anything or cast judgement on anyone. The only thing I'll say is that I'm sorry that the help this person found wasn't ultimately successful in helping them through such a distressful time in their life, and in averting a tragedy like this. It was a perfect storm of internal and external elements in my life, including my own inner demons, that formed to break me. Why am I still here today, and why am I so grateful to so many? Because it was also a perfect storm of love and support that helped to pull me out of such a terrible period in my life. I either already had everything that I needed, or very quickly found it. Love and support from my family, the right friends, the right mentors, the right outlets, and on and on. It's not cancer that truly changed me as a person, but rather the PTSD that I experienced after cancer that did. Key to my post-cancer and post-PTSD survival has been the fact that no stone was left unturned, and that I changed almost every aspect of my life. I adopted new attitudes, new beliefs, new routines, new friends and social circles, and new everything. Cancer and especially PTSD turned my life upside down, and so it makes perfect sense that I had to flip everything in my life over in order to get things oriented in the proper direction again..  

Two things that were never involved in my PTSD recovery were therapists, nor any sort of drugs. A big problem that we have as cancer survivors is the lack of people out there who truly get what we've been through, and the terrible things that our minds are telling us, besides other cancer survivors. Even oncologists who treat cancer patients for decades, who are then diagnosed with cancer themselves later in life, have admitted they had no idea what their patients were going through until the tables were turned, and they became the patient. A therapist was certainly an option for me, and I'm not saying they're wrong or that it's the therapist that failed the patient in this case, but I simply didn't trust a therapist to be able to handle ME. It doesn't help that I'm a Scorpio, and that my mind is already a very complicated and turbulent place, and that it already takes quite a bit for us to trust anyone. A therapist just wasn't the right option for me. And every drug I had ever taken for managing various post-cancer issues always had far worst side-effects for me than whatever relief they were supposed to have provided. I'm not saying that they're wrong or to blame either, but when it came to an anti-depressant for me, which I arguably ought to have been on at various points, it was just another non-starter. 

No therapists. No drugs. This definitely wasn't easy path to have taken through all of this, and it was arguably very risky as well. We all have to find an approach that will work for us and that we can place our full trust in, but you can overcome depression, PTSD, suicidal thoughts, and the existential crisis that life throws at us without such things. There are other ways to do this. I can check all of those boxes, but I've only grown through all of this, and am spiritually sound today. I want people to know that it's possible, and that I'm living proof of it. 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

[Note: The facts of the mentioned case came out, and it turned out that the woman's husband apparently did it. This is still a relevant topic to discuss and figured I'd write about it, since it came up, but I'll rework this blog a bit later.]