Over the past several days, multiple filming, interview, and email sessions a few questions have really hit my heart and I would like to share them with you. Incase you don’t know yet, I will be riding in order to raise awareness of veterans suicides in the month of September, this blog post stems from this topic of conversation that has been a very real part of my life lately.
Whether you have been at the front line with suicide or not, chances are it has been in your life in one-way, shape, or form. If it hasn’t, consider yourself to be very rare and very lucky; do not take that for granted.
For those of us who have had to cope, had to deal, and had to overcome something that can be so painful, this is for you. Not to take away from those who have never personally lived through this yet, (and I say yet, because chances are this will cross your life at some point) but to send light to those who have.
When asked the question on film, what would you personally say to someone you have lost from death by suicide if you had one more moment with them. Secondly I was asked to speak, figuratively to families, friends, spouses, etc. and share some words based upon my personal experiences that may help them with their loss. This was a pivotal point in conversation in which I lost it a little bit, I teared up, and I broke down. I broke down because I have never taken the time to really, truly think about this. When you imagine the loss of a family member, co-worker, or a friend we all long for that last bit of time to say the words we wanted to say, but yet never had the opportunity to do so. For me, only one thing crossed my mind. We see far too often when people are lost, tragically, a copious amount of love and support pours out for them after they are gone. For me, I said, I would tell them I love them, I care about them, and they are important to me. Something so simple, but often times overlooked far too easily and something that does not become so obvious and apparent until they are gone. I also mentioned that there is a proper time to grieve, but there also needs to be that moment in which you force yourself out of bed and you get back to reality. Maybe harsh, but practical. Emotions are a hard thing to gain control of. If you, after a loss, spend all of your time in bags of chips/cookies/and on your couch your emotions are now taking a negative spiral too. Find an outlet and most importantly use it.
For me this outlet has alway been working out, cycling, running etc. For many it is the same, but for some its different. Thats natural. Never-the-less find your outlet and run with it.
Picture yourself for a second in your darkest moment. Maybe you’re here now and that is why you’re reading this. Maybe there were times in which you felt as though nobody cared about you, the world would be a better place when you’re gone, nobody will miss you after the fact. If you’ve had thoughts like these you aren’t alone. However, I will reassure you a whole lot of people do care about you very much, they do not think the world would be a better place when you’re gone, and would be the first to tell you they will miss you very much after the fact.
Think for just a second of your best friend, your better half, your parents, or anyone with significant importance in your life. Take a moment and think of where you would be today without them. Think about how they have influenced you and who you have become over the span of your existence. Now imagine them gone. View your life now, knowing you have to make it through each and every day without that individual, without your motivator, positive influence, outlet to talk to. For them, they will not see the immense amount of pain you are living with on a daily basis because they are no longer here with you. This pain you now get to carry with you on a daily basis. Their pain, their heartache, their daily struggle is now yours. Suicide is not a solution, not a cure, and not something to remove the pain. Suicide simple takes the pain and moves it to the closest humans you once had. Your friends, family, and everyone who was ever in your life now has a small piece of what you were going through. Is that something you really want?
I challenge you to be the person to start this movement with me. Take the extra time out of your day to tell those around you how much you love them, care about them, and appreciate them. Although you may assume you know what they are going through, chances are you may not. Get involved, ask the hard questions, but most importantly, reassure them they are needed and loved. Sometimes that may be all it takes.
I challenge you to help eliminate the stigma related to mental illness, PTSD, and TBI. My goal is to educate people that this is not a negative connotation. Help is there for a reason.
In the 2014 poll done by the VA 22 veterans a day die by the means of suicide. Only 6 of those members reached out for some form of treatment.
Lets just crunch numbers for a quick second to put this epidemic into perspective. I label this as an epidemic because the dictionary defines the term as, “a sudden, widespread occurrence of a particular undesirable phenomenon.”
22 vets per day (Mind you this is only reported statistics) x 365 days per year
That gives us 8,030. For my Buffalo folks that’s roughly the size of Hamburg, whipped out.
Lets carry this out for my entire military career so far 8,030 x 9 years of service= 72,270
For anyone familiar with the state of New York, that is the size, roughly, of our capital, Albany. All gone, due to suicide, in the matter of 9 years.
SO this is an epidemic and it is one I need your help reducing. Through donations, my fundraiser, and simply word of mouth we can start to reduce these stats. Check out my page, consider a donation to an awesome non-profit, Mission 22, and follow along with my ride. If you would like your story heard, PLEASE contact me via the tab on this site and share your story. Id love to hear it and I would most importantly, love to help.
Let me know what hits you the hardest.
Thanks for taking the time to read this.
As you get older you learn the true value of things. The true importance of items placed in your life and the exact purpose they serve. No longer do I find myself looking for popularity in the things I don’t enjoy for the simple acceptance of others. I find myself wearing high red, white, and blue socks while rocking Birkenstock because I enjoy it, not because I am looking for others to approve. For me I now find comfort in being different and going against the flow when everyone else just seems so “the same”. Do not waste your life with trying to belong in a world that’s ever changing. Stop simply trying to keep up. Stop wasting your time with trends, fashion, and popularity. Be genuine. Be YOU. Having the ability to not care what others think because I have finally become so accepting of myself that others thoughts, opinions, and judgments truly no longer matter to me has been the moment that literally lifted the weight from my shoulders. I now feel free to choose what I wish without being subject to judgment of others. We will never truly please everyone so do not waste your valuable time and effort in doing so. Surround yourself with good quality people who only build you up as opposed to tearing you down. Remove the people who no longer add true value to your life as hard as it may be, you’ll thank yourself in the long run. Be genuine. Be YOU. Wear what you want. Be who you want. Challenge gender roles and the roles society has set forth for you because you can do exactly that. Don’t give in to society and the status quo when it feels so wrong to do so. Stand out in a crowd of people who are constantly trying to be the exact same human being as everyone else. In those moments be different. Be the change the world needs to see and let people know it is okay to be exactly that, different. They say when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. I don’t know about you, but life has never handed me any lemons. Life has handed me ups, downs, good times and bad, nights of endless laughter, and periods of tears that I thought would never reside. Life has handed me people. The best kind. Ones who are there for you even when you don’t want them around, but they know they need to be. Ones who came out of nowhere exactly when they needed a place in your life. Life has handed me happiness and joy, far more good days than bad and I owe it all to them. To the humans I call my best friends, my family, and my peers. Not to the lemons. So if life is handing you lemons, instead look at the person giving them to you and realize maybe that’s exactly what you need. A kind heart to talk to. Someone who is giving you a key piece to the puzzle you need in order to move on with the next challenge thrown in your face by the world around you. Its okay to look beyond the obvious and find the cause. I wanted to start this blog with a little something different than what this page will be necessarily geared towards. Yes I want to open a gym, yes I love training people, yes I try to do whatever I can to help out and raise fund for things I believe truly matter. However, it all starts with being a better version of you, the rest will all fall into place after the fact! Cheers!