In our last article, THINKING SUICIDE – It Demands a Second Opinion, we looked at the emotional impact suicide has on families, especially children. This time we look at weathering the storm of anxiety and depression, and we look at two examples of those who made it through the downpour of adversity.
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
(It Is Well With My Soul, Horatio Spafford / read the story)
For some first responders, anxiety that led to depression and is the impetus behind considering suicide is rooted in bad choices that led to firing. For a professional in criminal justice or emergency services, losing the badge, the weapon, membership in an elite fraternity of heroes, is devastating. It is humiliating.
So what choice does one have in the midst of that depression? Suicide – or choose life. Everyone makes bad choices, but there are consequences.
If you are still on the job and making bad choices, stop and get help. There is no excuse to not accept responsibility and ask for resources to turn your life around. If you have gone too far, and the choices cost your job, or worse, arrest, help is still available. You are not the job, and there is life after the badge.
My name is Brad. I have been wondering for a long time if my situation could help another officer somewhere.
In a nutshell:
In 2005, I was an undercover narcotics agent. Out the Saturday night before the Super Bowl in February and was stopped on a traffic violation and subsequently arrested for DWI. I was fired that Monday morning, very crappy department I worked for, but that just the beginning.
I lost [everything]:
My possessions – including a Dodge pick-up, Ford Mustang, Anniversary edition Harley Davidson, my apartment
My retirement (cashed out to pay attorney)
My credit was shot
Worse yet –
During all of this, my then 6 year old son was moved out of Texas to Florida by his mother.
Most important, my beautiful bride and a wonderful 16 month old baby boy, full custody of the before mentioned 6 year old, now 14
Stuff: 2 new vehicles, my own house
A wonderful career in the private sector
A new retirement fund
A near 800 credit score
I now own a small business and I am currently helping to start a large business. I am doing super.
I wanted to share my story, because I know my experience can help someone in my past situation. Officers are daily being stripped of their jobs and think life is over. I am walking proof that it could be just beginning.
We each can tell our own story of loss, and losing a job is a deep felt loss. In the Bible there is a great story of loss and recovery – a man named Job. He lost it all – his children, his wealth, and his health. And Job had done nothing wrong.
His close friends criticized him harshly, and blamed his children for their fate too. Job’s wife asked why he did not just curse God and die. This as he sat in a heap covered in oozing sores.
But Job never lost hope, faith in God – although he did question Him. After hearing of his children’s death, loss of all possessions, Job said:
20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship21 and said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.[c]
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.”
(Book of Job, Chapter 1)
When his wife chastised him, Job said:
9 His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”
10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish[b] woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
If you read Job 3, clearly Job was feeling sorry for himself – and was right where many of us retreat when struggling, which is self-loathing or playing the blame game.
3 “May the day of my birth perish,
and the night that said, ‘A boy is conceived!’
4 That day—may it turn to darkness;
may God above not care about it;
may no light shine on it.
“If only my anguish could be weighed
and all my misery be placed on the scales!
3 It would surely outweigh the sand of the seas—
no wonder my words have been impetuous.
4 The arrows of the Almighty are in me,
my spirit drinks in their poison;
God’s terrors are marshaled against me.
One of Job’s friends had good advice –
17 “Blessed is the one whom God corrects;
so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.[a]
18 For he wounds, but he also binds up;
he injures, but his hands also heal.
19 From six calamities he will rescue you;
in seven no harm will touch you.
Job did gripe, and he questioned God, but listen to the response –
The Lord said to Job:
2 “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?
Let him who accuses God answer him! “
Job got it – and replied –
2 “I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
3 You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know. (Job 42)
Here is the rest of the story – God restored Job –
10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. 11 All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver[a] and a gold ring.
12 The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. 13 And he also had seven sons and three daughters.
There are stories like Job – or our brother Brad. Job did nothing wrong, Brad made bad choices. Yet, in both cases, they made it through the travail, through the trials and tribulation. Both were restored.
When flying, one of my favorite experiences is taking off with dark and foreboding clouds above and rain and winds on the ground.
It looks ominous. The plane soars through the storm down the runway with rain drops streaming on the window and wind buffeting the plane. Anxiety and trepidation visit passengers. As the plane lifts there is that moment when total darkness of the storm surrounds. Then, as the plane emerges from those clouds, the sky above is clear. The sun shines, and one can look below and see the storm as no more than a past fear.
Life can be just like that. Hope is ALWAYS in the other side of the storm. It is with us in the midst of the storm.
So some will think this is religious mumbo jumbo. Well, it is not about religion. For me, understanding the teachings of the Bible help me make it through life. It helps me understand that there is something more important than me, someone who is committed to my best interests, like is says in Romans 8:28 (which is preceded by romans 8:17 addressing suffering).
For me, I found hope in dark times through God. Hope is not in money, self-medication, physical relationships, or success – all of which will pass. Real hope must last, lest it be only a temporary fix. I followed the evidence and found God to be trustworthy, that He never gave up on me when I gave up on myself and all else. Now, looking back, I can see clearly His hand in directing my steps through the valley of the shadow of death at times, and basking in the sun and enjoying the benefits of His mercy and grace even when I did not recognize those faithful friends.
Wherever you are, whatever you take from this article, my hope is that you never give up. That you fight through tough times, loss, or despair. You are not alone. We are here to talk, just call our line, 615-373-8000, and press 1 if in crisis, or 2 to contact a chaplain.
I’ll leave you with this:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
And a great song by Legend Seven.