I didn't really notice the mental issues and cognizance problems
until I actually was out of the Marine Corps and had to do things on my own,
like cook meals or make sure you pay your bills, shopping, money management.
It just all started to go downhill.
Unfortunately, on top of that was the alcohol abuse, the drug abuse,
not necessarily physical abuse of my spouse and loved ones
but more the mental abuse, the verbal abuse to them.
Now I look back at it and go, "I was horrible."
At the time, I had no idea I was doing it.
Did I ever feel suicidal? Oh yes. I'll never sugarcoat that.
I did for the longest time. I hid it.
Yeah, I was suicidal. There were some days that every day I wanted to die.
Did I act upon it? No, because I'm here.
It's a selfish act.
It's not selfless, it's selfish because you don't realize how it affects everyone else.
You think everyone else is going to be better off without you because you're so low,
but if you actually do it, it affects everyone.
It affects your family; it can even affect your community depending on who you are.
When I was addicted to drugs, it was prescription painkillers,
which is a big drug abuse in the military.
I would take 3000mg to 4000mg a day and then drink on top of it.
In the back of my head I wanted to die,
but in the front of my mind I couldn't mentally do it.
My big help with my depression was humor.
You've got to make fun of everything to get anywhere in life.
It doesn't work for a lot of people.
Some people just have no sense of humor at all.
But a good sense of humor and eventually through time
I started building my own support group behind me--my friends, my family.
They understood if I started drawing back from society,
my life started drawing back, they knew I was starting to get down,
I would get down and they would show up right away at my house and go,
"Let's go to the movies," or, "Let's go somewhere quiet like the park,"
but you're still out in public, you're still talking with people.
It took realizing, finding a triumph in my life, a passion in my life,
to go, "This is worth living for right here."
This is talking to people, spreading my story for those guys who no longer have a voice,
who died on the battlefield, or the guys who are just too afraid to share.
There's Vietnam veterans that haven't talked about a single thing they've done in Vietnam
for over 40 years.
But talking with someone like me for 20 minutes starts to open them up.
Who better to understand a wounded servicemember
than a wounded servicemember?