WOW! is all I can say about that last month. I've been through a lot and I'm sure you have as well. We're stilling battling COVID, elected a new president, and now we are preparing for the holiday season. My individual mental health storm started in August. Allow me to set the scene for you...
That is a picture of me after my injury in 2007. I circled my left foot because that's where all of the trauma from my injury went. I can't move the toes on my left foot, and I have severe muscle atrophy in my left leg/ankle. When I was in the hospital in 2008 doctors told me I had severe muscle atrophy. They wanted to perform a surgery called "Achilles lengthening", but back in 2007 it wasn't a priority.
Let's fast forward to 2020. I tried to get the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) to treat me for my Achilles but they wouldn't do it. Just to inform all of you why I need this surgery here you go. I have severe muscle atrophy in my left leg. Muscle atrophy is what happens when you don't use a muscle for an extended amount of time. I cannot move my left ankle in a complete circle. My range of motion is very limited in my left foot. In the picture above I circled my left foot. I had to keep my foot in a boot because I had foot drop, and plantar fasciitis in my left foot.
In 2020 I took advantage of my job's health care. I visited Resurgeon's Orthopedics in Kennesaw, Ga to get seen for my Achilles. There I found a great orthopedic surgeon who was able to perform my surgery. Doctors told me that it would require a 12 week recovery time.
After my surgery I had months of recovery in front of me. The entire time I was thinking about June, 17th 2007. That was the day I was shot in Iraq. This year I celebrated 13 years since my injury. Here's what I'm thinking during my recovery:
1. More surgery - Great
2. When I was shot in 2007 I went through so much surgery. And I'm still having surgery in 2020 for the same injury.
3. You know what..the sniper wins. He could have killed me but he/she shot me in my leg instead to make me suffer for the rest of my life.
I tried my best to smile on social media but behind the scenes I was miserable. I have no family in Atlanta so I had to do everything on my own. I was embarrassed riding around in Kroger in that little cart. It felt like my sniper was looking at me and laughing.
But I'm the "mental health" speaker! I'm certified in Mental Health First Aid. I'm the one who's supposed to be inspiring others who are going through a hard time. I didn't know where to go/didn't know what to do. Luckily I am on short term disability from my job. I had a dark cloud over my head and when i feel like this I am useless. Thank God I don't have a girlfriend or wife because during times like this I feel like a body without a soul. I have no passion to do anything, with anyone, at anytime.
This is a big reason I got a vasectomy in 2016. There are times where I feel like I can't love anything, and I didn't want my child to feel like their father doesn't love them. I tried to get a vasectomy at 22 years old when I realized my moods made me feel emotionless. I felt as if I couldn't bring a child into the world and have one of these mood swings and feel nothing for him/her. OK David...back to reality. Because it gets worse.
One day while walking down the stairs I had a little too much pep in my step. My Achilles gave out...I fell backward...I hit my head...I was knocked out. Because I live alone I don't know how long I was knocked out for. I was headed on my way out of the house for a date...that I had to cancel.
Because I live alone and I wasn't sure what was going on, I made this Facebook post. My mom called me immediately but I don't even remember the conversation with her. There was a lot of things that happened over the weekend that I don't even remember happening. Including participating in the hilarious speech contest for my local Toastmasters club.
Talk about rock bottom. It felt like I would never get over this injury. A concussion...really?!?! Who the hell gets a concussion falling down their steps. I felt like a loser. I was trying to move on with my life and go on a date and this injury prevented me from doing that. Once again my sniper is saying "no no no...you can't be happy". Then the downward spiral started.
When I feel like this I don't get anything done. I stop all projects that I'm working on. I don't update my social media pages. I don't feel like doing anything productive...at all. I don't have the motivation to do anything and I get months behind in both my personal and professional life. I'm out on short term disability from my job so I don't have to worry about using my fake customer service voice all day. I was in a dark, dark place...but somehow it got darker.
While driving on the highway a truck decided that it wanted to get off on an exit that we had already passed. The car swerved into the car in the lane next to me, causing that car to hit mine. Then the car just took off. My car was still able to drive so I pulled off to the side of the road. The car that was hit into mine was stalled in the middle of the highway. I sat there on the side of the highway waiting for the police to come and just thought to my self "this can't be happening".
Once again..I was headed out on a date. The same date that I had to cancel because I fell on the stairs the first time. I had to call the person waiting on me with what she would think is another "excuse" not to make it to the date. First, you fall on the stairs and give yourself a concussion and now you telling me that you got into a car accident? Who would believe that? Luckily, my car was ok. I drove home and sulked.
For a couple of days I was afraid to drive. I had a different type of PTSD. It always felt like I was going to be in another car accident. So while dealing with PTSD from the war, I was now dealing with a small bit of PTSD after getting into a car accident. I was desperate, depressed, devastated. I had to get my way out of this funk.
That's when I thought of a period back in 2018. I was really depressed back then as well and would sit in my backyard and just soak in the sun. That's what I started doing and suddenly it felt like my spirit was rejuvenated. I don't know what it is about the sun...but it energized me and now I feel like myself. I'm back to being productive now, I'm feeling like David again. And man it feels good to be back!