PTSD Awareness month-It’s real even if you can’t see it

As I have stated before, Mental Health is very real, even if you can’t see it, it’s there. In honor of PTSD awareness month, you will hear the story of my boyfriend, Scotty Rayburn who suffers from PTSD.

PTSD is REAL

  1. When were you diagnosed with PTSD?
    Approx March of 2018 is when I was diagnosed with PTSD
  2. What caused your PTSD?
    The October 1st mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada.
  3. How has being diagnosed with PTSD affected your life?
    It has affected it in many different ways: Lack of sleep, constant paranoia, depression and panic attacks.
  4. If you had one piece of advice for someone who also suffers from PTSD, what would it be?
    To talk about it and not to hold it in. Ask for help.
  5. What can someone do to help you with your PTSD?
    Just be around and listen, don’t try and force me to do something. Just knowing someone is there helps. Just knowing you understand helps.

His Story: *TRIGGER WARNING*

On October 1st 2017, I was working as a bike security officer for a casino on the strip. I was doing a patrol around my facility when I hear what sounded like fireworks. A concert was going on, the route 91 harvest festival was on the other side of the building, so I thought they were just celebrating. Then I hear over my radio, There is a active shooter.”  That’s when I rode as fast as possible to get to the other side of the building to see what was happening. When I got there, I noticed there were hundreds of people running past me, yelling at me to turn around and run because there was a shooter chasing them. I couldn’t turn around, I had to continue to help people even though I truly wanted to hop in my car and run, I couldn’t. I went as far as the gate that was knocked over, to help grab whoever I could. I was not aware of where I was or what I was doing, I was just doing whatever my brain was telling my body to do. I remember helping people back into the building, guiding people to a safer location while bullets were hitting the ground around me, and the building near me. After the majority of people were in a safer location, I ran inside. What felt like hours, was only minutes. I start cutting clothes and boots off of people to use as tourniquets to help keep them from bleeding out. The whole time I heard people throughout my casino, yelling through the radio that they need help helping people also. I provided an escort for the police to a room where I got a call stating someone was shot in the head, and was losing a lot of blood. I escorted police and ambulance to him, and when they opened the door, I saw the swelling on his skull where the bullet or shrapnel entered. They took him to get help and told everyone else to stay back. His wife was screaming and crying, so I pulled her out to go with me. I figured he needed her and she needed him, for I would want my wife in that situation. I called my fiancé at the time, and said to her, “There is an active shooter. I have to evacuate people. I love you, I got to go.”  The whole time while trying to fight back tears, I felt that could have been the last call I ever made. At that point, the shooting had stopped to my knowledge. So, we started getting everyone into one giant room to start conducting a more thorough triage on them. My phone was ringing the whole time, but I was to busy to answer to my mom, dad or sister calling over and over to get ahold of me. After that night, I felt I had to stay strong and make people think it’s alright, and that I’m fine. I was battling every day, trying to figure out what happened, what did I do wrong? Did I help anyone? Did I run? The night was a blur for me. On January 30th, in my hotel of the casino I worked for, I was on lunch and I got a call stating someone wasn’t breathing and that they needed help. I ran as fast as possible to get to the room to help. There was a man laying on the ground and his brother who stated that he had called 911 and then fell over. So, I check his pulse and he was breathing, but very faint. The ambulance was on their way. Because he was still breathing, I did not start CPR. I was completely untrained at that time for that kind of situation because my job didn’t train for this.  When the ambulance got there, they immediately pronounced him dead. He started gasping seconds before they got there. I was stuck in the room when they ripped his clothes off and started CPR and injected steroids into his shin. I couldn’t take my eyes off the situation for I felt this couldn’t be real. My boss had to turn around and he never once came into the room to help me, he stood outside. That was the second step into my PTSD. I kept working and acting like nothing was wrong, but knowing I had a guy I didn’t know, die in my arms was eating me up along with the months of fighting off my thoughts of the shooting.

Fast-forward to Superbowl Sunday…I was watching the Superbowl because my team, the Eagles were playing the patriots. My team won and I got super happy but then felt really weird. Little did I know then, but it was my first sign of anxiety ever. The next day, I worked a 7-hour shift. When I was logging in an item at work, I felt dizzy, faint, and weak. I couldn’t stand or talk or even grip anything. I radioed my boss and told him that I needed help. They called an ambulance and after the paramedics arrived and took my vitals, they said my blood pressure was 210 over 125 and took me to the hospital. After hours, the doctors told me that I was fine to leave. So, I went back to work, grabbed my stuff and went home. I went back into work the next day feeling fine. I smoked a cigarette and then walk into the office because I started feeling weird again. My boss looked at me and asked, “Are you alright? Your eyes look super dilated and you look really pale.” They called an ambulance again and the paramedics took me to the hospital, just to be told the same thing I was told yesterday. So, for weeks my boss tried to work with me, but like every group of people, they get tired of seeing someone getting help where its needed and not them. So, I continued to work and fight through it, but my boss told to me that he will not be working with me because I was upsetting others. He told me that he was tired of hearing it and that if I called out, missed work, or left early, I would be getting write ups. So, I asked his boss to get me papers for workers comp. I spent weeks fighting them to get me workers comp papers. I eventually got the papers and then was sent to therapy. I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and paranoia, so they put me on anti-depression medication. I started taking them for about a month, but I was in a relationship with my fiancé who kept telling me to just get over it and that she doesn’t understand how I can let this beat me and destroy me like it was.  I ended up confiding in alcohol while I was on those meds to see if that would help me feel even more numb. I ended up cheating on my ex because of it. I told her what I had done and we split up. A few months later, I was still drinking every day while on the same meds. I felt like a robot or a zombie, and I loved not caring or worrying about anything. I felt like I wasn’t hurt anymore, I felt like I was fixed, but I was very toxic and angry to everyone else and wasn’t aware of how I was treating others. My family kept saying I needed to get over it because they didn’t understand what mental health meant. I heard it so many times that I eventually snapped and told them that I’m leaving. My mom grabbed me and hugged me while she cried. She said that my eyes changed colors that day and she felt an energy that wasn’t her son anymore. At that time, I owned a firearm and made an unconscious decision to drive home while drunk to retrieve my firearm. I called a few people and told them I was going to kill myself in front of my dad. I wanted him to watch so he can see me get over it. I wanted to end the pain. I wanted to stop feeling pain, anxiety and depression every single day. I wanted to be normal. I wanted to be whole again. I drove probably close to 100 plus miles an hour to get back to my house to do this. My brother who I had called, told my mother to call 911. I pulled up in the drive way and my sister was standing in front of me crying. I chambered a bullet and put my gun to my head and said, “Get away from me sis! I don’t want you to watch me do this!” She walked away crying and freaking out. I was told later that I said, “Richard, come outside! You want to watch me get over it so, let me show you how.” Richard is my Father and he didn’t respond. I walked to my car really fast and sat in the driver seat double checked that I had a bullet in the chamber and when I go to get up I heard, “Get out the vehicle with your arms up.” I then saw an easier way out… I thought that maybe if I showed them my gun, they would just end my misery for me. I go to stand up to put my plan into action and I heard my sister yell, “Don’t shoot my brother!” as she hit the ground, screaming and crying. Because of her, I snapped back to myself. I threw my gun on my seat and stood up and obeyed the police. When I turned around, I saw 20 plus cops with all their guns drawn on me. I got cuffed and put into the back of a cop car. My family told them what I went through and what happened and why I was suicidal and because of that, I got a medical arrest. I didn’t go to jail but I did spend a week in a hospital doing nothing but thinking. I suffer from anxiety every minute of every day and still don’t know how to cope years later. I have noticed pain in areas of my body I have never even felt before. I cry a lot now. I go to hospitals for the pain I have and get told that I have nothing wrong without even being checked because of my mental history. I get told that I’m fine with minimal help, every single time. I lost my free ride to college and I lost $30,000 because my ex used it all before, we split. I lost my job, my house, my animals and my ex fiancé. I have slowly been learning how to cope again, but I have faith that I will be able to feel whole again and that I will be close to normal again. I spend most of my time focusing on helping others now that I am aware of what is wrong with me. And to be honest, I wouldn’t change my story one bit because, I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, so I’m glad it was me that it happened to and not someone else. Thank you for reading if you made it this far. I love you, and hope that this makes you realize that you aren’t alone. Ask for help like I did and don’t ever feel like you aren’t enough, because you are.

What I saw and what I thought:

Back in September of 2018, I was sitting in my living room with my kids and I see red and blue lights flashing on my walls. What I saw when I looked out my window affected me in a way I can’t explain. I saw my neighbor, Scotty with a gun to his own head and about 10 cop cars surrounding him. The only thing I thought was, “That boy needs someone, he’s hurting bad.” I found out later that he was having a panic attack due to his PTSD. Fast forward to a few weeks to a month or so… I officially met Scotty when he walked into my garage. That’s when he told me his story about what caused his PTSD. I literally went inside and cried for him. The thought of someone going through that much mental pain and trauma was hard to even think of. I just wanted to hug him.

Mental Health is VERY MUCH REAL

Like I have said many times before, Mental Health is a serious thing. It needs to be taken more serious. This picture was taken during one of his panic attacks. You can literally see the mental pain and sadness in his face. This is such a heart breaking photo and I cried when he showed me. Being an empath, I pick up on EVERY emotion, even through photos and I felt every emotion he felt just looking at this picture.

How you can help someone with PTSD

Just like any mental health issue, you don’t want to tell them what they need to do. Just be there for them and LISTEN. Ask them how you can help, sometimes they won’t know what they need and that’s when you just need to say, “Well I will be here for you every step of the way, I’m not going anywhere.” They NEED to know that they have someone who isn’t going to pity them and just be there for them. They NEED to know that you understand that they are mentally hurting and that they can’t always control it. Mental illnesses can make it seem like there is something medically wrong with you as well. It can make you feel like you are having a heart attack, breathing problems, and even a stroke. You need to just be there and listen, don’t tell them they are crazy because they are actually feeling these things. Be their support. Listen and just be understanding.

Mental health isn’t always physically visible so don’t judge or assume

This was a really hard post for me to write because I have been put down for my mental illnesses and it hurts more than anything because it’s not something I can control at all. It’s a constant, tiring fight between me and my brain. Scotty has been told to “Just get over it” after the traumatic event he went through… This is the number one thing you should NEVER tell someone who is mentally struggling. One of the biggest reasons why this was a hard thing for me to write is because, he’s my person. He is who I am suppose to be with. I can feel it in my soul. So many WHAT IF’S run through my brain. What if I didn’t have him?
Scotty is such a caring and very protective person with such a huge heart. He always worries about how other’s are doing and feeling over worrying about himself. My soul connected with his and all of a sudden, everything finally made sense. Words cannot describe how happy I am that he walked into my garage that day.

Please, if you are struggling mentally, seek help. Talk to someone. The world is better with YOU in it!

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