A Soldier Who Learned He Couldn't Fight Depression on His Own
I am a warrior.
For the longest time, I’ve worn a uniform: from Boy Scouts, to Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps in high school, to active duty military. I was compelled to serve my fellow man from a young age. I enjoyed it. I grew up on tales of superheroes and gallant knights saving the day.
I served for eight years on active duty, deployed twice to Afghanistan. I didn’t kill anyone, and I didn’t see any dead bodies. What I did see were men and women mourning someone taken too young from this world. It got to me, and I didn’t realize it. Somehow, I felt like I’d failed each and every one of them.
I’m not sure when I actually developed depression. I do remember when I was diagnosed and the circumstances surrounding it. I remember my supervisors not being afraid to take me to get help or questioning or belittling me for getting help. They made sure I was taken care of and that I could return to work.
It wasn’t easy to ask for the help. It’s never been easy to ask for help. I don’t need help. I’m a warrior. I can fight this on my own. Was I ever farther from the truth? I couldn’t fight it on my own. This is/was my own personal demon chained to my shoulder.
I have good days and bad days. Good days, like all of us who endure mental health issues, are awesome and amazing, full of laughter, love, and living. Bad days… I still get out of bed, sometimes only because I’m not only responsible for myself but for the beautiful children I have.
I still fight with that demon on my shoulder. I don’t fight alone though. My wife fights alongside me. I have friends who will take up a shield, a spear, an axe, or sword of their own to help me.
One thing I’ve learned is you are never alone, even when you feel like you are. I stand as a warrior every day to battle the demon that comes or doesn’t.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.