Gratitude comes to us in many ways. At this time of year, we are thankful for the roof over our head, food in our bellies, our health and loving friends and family. Christopher has been kind enough to share his healing journey with us. We are blessed to have him and Kristian as part of our first responder family.
Chris's letter to The Chip Terry Fund:
I've started this letter multiple times, but what do I say to a complete stranger that's helped me and my family? I guess I'll start with my story.
I've been a career firefighter/paramedic for just over 19 years. My issues started about 8-10 years ago when I started becoming angry over nothing and withdraw from family and friends. I slowly started felling like a burden and the negative thoughts were compounding which drove me further away then the suicidal thoughts started. I went to my doctor, was diagnosed with depression, and given medication which helped for a minute. After a few years I started going to therapy from time to time when the suicidal ideations get bad, but never consistently. About 2 years ago my diagnosis changed to PTSD which surprised me even though I'd heard about it, but I was still in denial and ashamed. I've always subscribed to the fire department tradition of just suck it up. I've read article and attended another seminars on PTSD since and they've always brought my buried emotions/demons screaming to the surface. I didn't really want to attend your seminar, but the fact you invited spouses changed my mind. The thought of having her holding my hand lead me to believe we could both benefit from the information. Unfortunately for me the seminar did what I was afraid of it stirred up my demons and they hit me hard. When we got home instead of talking with Kristian about my problems. I started an argument to avoid what was truly bother me. The next day I attended the Ohio State / Indiana Football game in Bloomington, IN with my daughter. With my intrusive thoughts of being a burden/worthless, past calls, and suicidal thought already heightened I entered a stadium full of thousands of other people. With my extreme social anxiety it created my "perfect storm" and pushed me over the edge. I was able to hold myself together in front Abbie (my daughter), but we left the game at half time and I dropped her off at home. Which left me in the car by myself with my thoughts and I lost it. I remember pulling off the interstate and parking in an empty lot. I put my gun to my head and then I had a flash of you and another woman (sorry I can't remember her name) at the seminar talking about how your husbands suicide affected your children. Neither of you went into great detail, but you got the point across. The thought of my children flooded my mind and I couldn't bring them that pain. I have a son that's 22, daughter 18, and stepdaughters 10 & 8. I put the gun down and called my wife. I had driven almost to Cincinnati so after talking with Kristian I checked into UC. Currently I'm doing well and hopefully will be able to come home in a couple weeks. This experience has changed my life. I once couldn't see a future, now I can see a long and happy life ahead of me. I know it will take a lot of effort and continued treatment for a life time, but it's worth any price to see my children and hopefully one day grandchild grow up happily.
I don't have the words to thank you for your support of my family and I during this time of need. I hope that when I get home we'll be able to talk in person so I can attempt to express my gratefulness.