HomeNewsCommentariesDisplay

Making it off the island

(Photo illustration by Senior Airman Heather Leveille)

For more information on how to overcome suicidal ideation or any problems causing you stress, go to www.resilience.af.mil. Military members, family members, government civilians and base contractors are encouraged to reach out to their unit leadership, supervisors, wingmen or key spouses for help. If you are having thoughts of suicide, call 911 or go to the emergency room immediately. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Senior Airman Heather Leveille)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. (AFNS) -- Sometimes, life is like being on an island of misfit toys. Some people make it off the island quickly. For some people, like me, it takes years and a little help to get off the island to a place where they have better mental health.

Growing up with less than stellar mental health made me feel like I didn’t belong. I was always the different one and didn’t really fit in at school or with other people in my family. After going to college for a couple of years, I decided that joining the military would be my ticket to feeling like I belonged and would help other people love and appreciate me.

When I was in basic military training and technical school, there were rough days but I felt like I had finally found my place where I belonged and was valued. When I got to my first base, that all came crashing down very quickly.

I came to Keesler Air Force Base after almost three years at my first base hoping things would turn around but it all just got worse. I drowned myself in my work with the sole purpose of getting people to care about me. It was never because I cared about myself.

I dedicated myself to serving others and in turn neglected myself and my mental health.

I ended up losing my marriage which destroyed what little happiness I had left and just brought back memories of all the times I was told as a child that my biological father never wanted me.

Instead of just being a misfit toy that had been kicked around and misused over years of time that was stuck on an island of unhappiness, I was becoming the island itself. Negativity became my main feeling and I let it consume me.

On June 24, 2017, after having an argument where I was told, again, that I was not good enough, my mind decided it was time to let go for good. My mind cut off and I then went around my apartment, put notes on objects I valued saying who I wanted them to go to after I killed myself, grabbed my car keys and drove away.

I don’t remember driving to the Ocean Springs bridge and I don’t remember walking to the top of the bridge but I remember sitting on the bench, crying and counting the people walking by.

That day 32 people walked by me, saw me crying and decided to say nothing. It wasn’t until a young girl who looked around 6-years-old saw me crying and decided to stop.

She sat down next to me, looked at me and asked me if I was ok. This blew my mind because no one had ever asked me that before. We had a short conversation and she asked me if I wanted some candy. I said yes and when she handed me the candy she said “See. It’s going to be a good day.”

Her mom then called for her and she got up and walked away.

At that moment my mind clicked back on and I went into panic mode. I had no idea what was happening but I knew it needed to stop.

I text messaged a close friend of mine explaining where I was at and then he asked the question that most people are terrified to ask: “Are you going to hurt yourself?”

When I said I didn’t know, he then got with his friends who worked at the 81st Security Forces Squadron and they were able to call the Biloxi Police Department to come help me.

The police officers, paramedics and a couple of my friends showed up to get me the help I needed.

Over the next eight and a half days I spent at the Biloxi Veterans Affairs facility, my mind slowly released the negativity I had. I felt like I was truly valued for who I am for the first time in a long time.

After leaving the VA, I began my treatment at the Keesler Mental Health Clinic. I was skeptical at first because I knew all the stigmas around going to mental health. I didn’t want to lose my job. I remembered what one of the doctors at the VA had told me. She said to put faith in the system because my life is worth trying every avenue available.

The process of getting better mentally is not fast. This is a process that has taken me two and a half years to talk about in a public forum but I put my faith in the system and I survived it.

I’m only one person and I know I can’t help bring down or eliminate the amount of suicides happening each year by myself but I hope at least one person reading this sees people do care about them. The helping agencies the Air Force and Defense Department has set up do work. Most importantly you are not alone. There is always someone out there willing to help.

For the first time in over two decades I’m not stuck on the island like a forgotten child’s toy. I made it off the island and I don’t intend on going back and it all started with a little girl asking if I was ok.

For more information on how to overcome suicidal ideation or any problems causing you stress, go to www.resilience.af.mil. Military members, family members, government civilians and base contractors are encouraged to reach out to their unit leadership, supervisors, wingmen or key spouses for help. If you are having thoughts of suicide, call 911 or go to the emergency room immediately.

Engage

Twitter
RT @AFSpecOpsCmd: After years of honorable service to the @usairforce, one AC-130U Spooky will enjoy its retirement in @Hurlburt_Field's ai…
Twitter
“It’s more than just a paint scheme; it’s an incredible opportunity to educate millions on the history behind the R… https://t.co/88l3HQZ3JX
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: We must also consider how to achieve improved interoperability and data sharing with our closest allies and partners so t…
Twitter
“The first thing that comes to mind is fire,” said #USAF SSgt Michael Rogers, 57th Rescue Squadron pararescueman. “… https://t.co/q0NXHfiisU
Twitter
“At @PACAF we will incorporate the knowledge gained into our command’s Mission Defense Team force array & employmen… https://t.co/n2wqAmw6W7
Twitter
.@GenCQBrownJr & @cmsaf_official discuss the importance of knowing the Airmen. #AirPower #Airmen #Questions https://t.co/D9PL395j7q
Twitter
In line with the Air Force's new mission statement "To fly, fight, and win…#Airpower #Anytime, #Anywhere,"… https://t.co/42w2Obb4nc
Twitter
RT @AF_Academy: Cadets got a chance to get up close and personal with an AC-130 thanks to its crew from @CannonAFB_ . The insiders' tour @…
Twitter
Did you miss the @A10DemoTeam at Cocoa Beach, Florida? Here's a chance to see the pilot's perspective! The A-10 is… https://t.co/NmFH7lnZYL
Twitter
“We’re working with colleagues across the #AirForce to deliver modern child care facilities that help balance the d… https://t.co/HRaJKGvF0x
Twitter
“When I was prepping to take command of the 363rd ISR Wing, I visited the #AirForce Historical Research Agency at… https://t.co/vSmKcLn85N
Twitter
Commissioned Airmen and Guardians have until June 25 to apply for DAWN-ED. This is a funded degree program that pro… https://t.co/AWtaDsmjm5
Twitter
RT @HQUSAFEAFAF: Congrats @Spangdahlem_AB on becoming the 1st base in U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa to announce #AgileCom
Twitter
RT @AETCommand: Oh the jokes 👀. But seriously, the Louis F. Garland Fire Academy at @17TRW_GAFB provides training to all components of the…
Twitter
.@GenCQBrownJr & @cmsaf_official discuss how empowering Airmen will lead to success in building the future Air Forc… https://t.co/DdxWYllO91
Twitter
Take a look at the most recent Week in Photos! Which one is your favorite? Check out the rest here:… https://t.co/fWBLo4MZwU
Twitter
"Working with @USAF_ACC & other stakeholders, the MQ-9 enterprise will add new capabilities to the platform to help… https://t.co/SbHCyMhmXc
Twitter
RT @HQUSAFEAFAF: It was an honor joining 8 allies and partners in #INIOCHOS21, enabling us to enhance combat readiness and strengthen our r…
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,345,204
Follow Us