by Kasey Franklin
This title here is a hard lesson I’ve had to learn.
I never thought I would be the one. I never thought I would be the one contemplating suicide. It honestly and wholeheartedly never crossed my mind.
Until I had to climb the Mount Everest of trauma, grief, heartache, depression, anxiety, and everything else that life threw at me all at once. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t prepared. As much as I thought I was resilient and mentally tough… I wasn’t ready.
I’ll tell you something – and let me say first and foremost, I am incredibly ashamed to admit it. Another thing I’m working on.
06 January 2022. I woke up fully intending to end my life. My report date for reclass school was that day. I hadn’t packed. I woke up. I got my notebook. I got my pistol. I sat on my couch and googled what angle to pull the trigger on my head so I would die instantly – out of the fear of surviving of course. I was done. I was checked out. I was numb. I felt that I didn’t have a place on this earth one second longer. And I will tell you – the only reason I didn’t is because my family would be devastated…and they have already been through enough after unexpectedly losing my grandpa. So I packed my bags and drove to Fort Bragg. I sobbed the entire way there – just because I couldn’t believe I had gotten to that point. I reported to school and graduated with a 4.0 GPA, 100% average the entire way through.
The thing about the military, is you are taught to embrace the suck and move on. Which I’ve come to realize means disassociating until the mission is done…deal with the consequences and after-effects later. And in no way am I speaking for the DoD and the way they train – but look at the suicide rate of Soldiers today. And that doesn’t include the Soldiers actively planning their suicide.
This mindset is instilled in your brain from Day 01. Once it’s in there, it’s hard to change. We go through some tough shit, we experience and see things that should never be seen. Humanity is at its worst. I mean, don’t get me wrong we enlist to go to war and we accept that when we sign the dotted line. However, there is no real plan set in stone for the effects on your brain after it all settles down. After the trauma sets in and really hits home. There’s no healing process.
That’s when my mental health issues started. I got home from Afghanistan in November 2019. We were shot at, there were Soldiers we couldn’t reach who got killed, and we attended many Dignified Transfers. During that time it was just a normal day…I do realize now that’s fucked up to say. Let me reiterate – embrace the suck and move on.
During my deployment, a family member committed suicide. On top of that, my aunt and uncle were killed in a car accident. All within 24 hours of each other. Again, embrace the suck. Move on.
COVID hit – we all went through that. We know how hard it was. In December 2020 my grandfather got COVID. He fought a hard battle – but succumbed to it on 12 February 2021. We were able to be with him during his last moments…the most painful thing I have ever experienced. If you have ever watched somebody die you will understand. It’s not peaceful.
September of 2021. My marriage ended. It was the right decision… but another failure.
At this point I feel like I’m failing at my job, I’m not being a good friend, I’m not being a good family member.
I hate writing these things because I feel like I’m pulling the “woe is me” card. I guess what I’m trying to portray is that you never truly know what is going on in someone’s life. And this isn’t solely about the military, it’s just where my story started. Of the most significant events, Afghanistan is only where my story started. We all have our own battles, and I fully recognize that – whether it is from the military or elsewhere.
We say that there is no stigma behind mental health, but that isn’t entirely true. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t wish this kind of invisible pain on anyone, but one cannot truly understand until they have experienced it or witnessed it for themselves. This is the sad truth.
Am I grateful that I didn’t end my life that day? Sometimes. It’s a roller coaster. Some days are good, some days are incredibly hard. I continue to believe that there has to be a turning point.
I’ve come to realize that every day I survive the things my mind is telling me. It’s a battle, and a lot of people fight the same one I do. Like I said in the title, healing is a roller coaster. The light in my eyes left a long time ago, I fight every day to get it back. Even if it is invisible, the demons you fight are incredibly real.
The hardest thing trauma survivors will ever do is go back through the repressed memories and tread through the painful process that is healing. It’s different every day. One step forward, ten steps back it feels like at some points.
I don’t do the cheesy motivation bullshit. It doesn’t work, it’s only empty words. I just want you to know that if you are reading this and it burns you to your core – that you are not alone. No matter what your trauma is, it is valid – it is real. You are heard, and you are understood.
Here’s to riding that roller coaster all the way through.
If you are contemplating suicide call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or chat.
Born and raised in North Carolina, Kasey enlisted in the NCARNG in 2009 and has since deployed twice in support of OEF from 2012-2013 and OFS in 2019 attached to SOCOM, as well as participating in multiple overseas training missions including to Poland and Romania. Kasey is currently serving as a Training NCO in the AGR Program. As an advocate who is passionate about Mental Health, she began writing as a form of therapy and is sharing her story in hopes it will help others who are struggling to not only know they aren’t alone but to open the door for them to share their story as well.
As the Voice of the Veteran Community, The Havok Journal seeks to publish a variety of perspectives on a number of sensitive subjects. Unless specifically noted otherwise, nothing we publish is an official point of view of The Havok Journal or any part of the U.S. government.