One resounding fact emanates from my blog; I could not hold my mother and grandfather in any higher esteem. While I’ve been led to my own inner strength by all of you, its these two that push it out of me more than any single person, place or thing could. My birth certificate, drivers license, passport, work badges, business cards and banner all have the last name I was given at birth. The one of my father. I will never change this last name as I share it with my children and I am working to change my own perception of it. That being said, I have always been and will always be a Robbins. That lives on in my first name. A name that I could not be prouder to have. A name I wear around my neck to carry my gramps with me everywhere I go. I can call and text and see my mom when I need strength. You see my journey has brought me to a place of understanding. A place that gives me a how instead of stoning me with whys. These two will forever be my heroes and paved the way for me to become one myself.
17 Years, 1 month and 19 days after my honorable discharge I received a call when I was in another state. Like Alaska I was in the snow on a mountain working. One week a year I work with children from the UK. My ex called me to alert me of a situation involving my child. My child felt like I did and thought like I did when I was 14. Everything in my body, heart and head crashed. Splintered in ways I would never imagine. I allowed myself an hour to feel and plan. It was there that I found a phone booth to turn into my hero of a mom and do what needed to be done. Within hours I was in my car speeding home. I knew what I needed when my mind went there and I was damn sure going to be there for my mini. While I will not go into details of my child, I will tell you this, they are stronger than I will ever be as they too come from my grampa and my mother. I immediately started making calls and getting mini the care they needed.
During these calls I had to explain over and over again what had and was taking place. Each time branded my heart with my child’s pain and my guilt. How could I have missed this? I’ve been dealing with something so similar for so long, how could I miss this? My military training coupled with symptoms of my PTSD have made me hyper vigilant and more than always aware, how could I be so blind? “Forgive yourself for not knowing what you did not know before you learned it”. A lesson learned in almost the most hardest of ways but a lesson much needed to be learned. This situation and the start of my own flesh and blood’s lifelong journey is where I was stripped down to my core, that was built on rock and not maybes, to rebuild the man writing this blog. The man my children need and deserve. The man my grandfather would be proud of. The man that was raised by the most incredible of people. The man this world needs. The man I deserve to be.
Once things were squared away, the appropriate professionals involved, appointments made and gone to, follow ups scheduled and a plan in place; I asked for help. I knew that I was not equipped to not only help my child through this but also to cope with it myself. The immense guilt I felt and somewhat still feel was the sledgehammer that nearly knocked my house off it’s foundation. It was then that I knew I needed help with my own mental illnesses that I have been stuffing away and hiding for too long. Any coping skills I learned along the way have gone out the window. The little confidence I had in myself streamed down my face daily. To the point I could not get out of bed. Not that I would not get out of bed, I could not get out of bed. Something I very much needed to do. I am and have always been a very hard worker. I started off peddling homemade bracelets in 6th grade, quickly climbed the ranks at my first job and was leading adults as a child. I am not self made. My mom, grampa, family, friends, and you have help make me. I am, however, self driven. A natural born hustler. In March of 2018, I awoke a man I did not know. A man with no hope. A man who couldn’t even move his hand three feet to change the channel of the tv or turn it on or turn it off. A man who takes so much pride in his appearance, no longer cared. I couldn’t return text messages or phone calls. My girlfriend replied to most of you on my behalf when you reached out or helped to post on social media to mask exactly how bad thing have gotten for me. She did this in hopes to help lift me.
I asked for help and could barely even make it to the appointments needed to get me better. I was out of work on an indefinite leave. I couldn’t function. My concentration and focus disappeared like Pete Rose from MLB. I had gone to see my doctor and my therapist a few times. My doctor changed my meds, they worked slightly for my anxiety and did nothing for my depression. After three meetings with my new therapist I was told that she is not in my network and I need to pay out of pocket, not an option. Given my condition I was heavily referred and convinced to go to a very rigorous outpatient program from 9-2 every day (https://www.snhhealth.org/php). The first two and a half weeks, I went four times. The fourth time I was pulled into an office with the head therapist. He could see in my dark eyes that I needed more. I needed to become more aware of myself. I needed to remove all of the stressors in my reality to rebuild myself, or even better build the best version of me. This would require me doing something extremely scary. Something that did not help me at all in 2000. I needed to be hospitalized and treated. I explained my concerns and why I was pensive about this. I explained all of the medications that I had once taken and how I don’t want to live a chemical life. My concerns were valid and, more importantly, heard. Even better they were alleviated.
They wanted me to admit myself right then and there. I could not. I had to tell my mom face to face. I had to talk to my kids. I had to pack. I had a feeling that I had to go home that day and admit myself the next day. After meeting with the head psychiatrist, I was allowed to go home and make the proper arrangements. This is when it happened. When I was left with nothing but my foundation. I left the hospital and sent mom a text to see if she was home so I could stop by and let her know what was going on. Since she had not responded I then headed to one of my closest friend’s house. She has been more than amazing to me and my family. Has helped me during some tough times and understands me. I was honored when her husband to be asked me to be in his wedding party. I needed to tell her I’d be gone for a bit and wanted to talk about a phone call I received from her husband, and my good friend, the night before. He had eluded to some issues at home but more importantly wanted to say to me “Robbie, I know you better than you think. You are much stronger than you know and I love you.” When I arrived at her house she was in her room on her bed with her cousin, yet another amazing person in my life, both had clearly been crying.
I looked at my friend and told her that I was being admitted the next day and was at peace with the decision as I believed it would help me become the best version of me. She hugged me as well as her cousin and they both told me how proud of me they were. They both knew how hard it was for me to admit I couldn’t do this alone any more, that I needed help and even harder to ask for it. After a few minutes of light talking I could sense I was missing something. Being as close as we all are, I had no problem saying it “I’m missing something, what’s going on”? What I was informed literally brought me to my knees. My friend who called to tell me how strong I was for getting help ended his life a few hours after calling me. Shattered. Destroyed. Pain. Guilt. Everything. Nothing. All at once. I don’t know how long it took for me to be able to talk or hear. What I remember next is what helped me bust my ass to get to where I am right now. Almost in unison, like they were in my mind hearing my thoughts, they looked me in my eyes and tell me that this does not change what I am doing. That under no uncertain terms was I to not go and be admitted the next day. They know my heart. They know my desire to protect and care for those I love, especially moms, and knew that I was contemplating not going the next day so I could be there for them. To do make things better to the best of my ability.
In order for me to do that, I need to be the best version of me. After a little while I excused myself to go to my moms. She opened her door to her 38 year old son curled up in a ball on her doorstop bawling more than she had probably seen since my final wrestling match as a Spartan. She grabbed her son and held him and would not let go. She knew that is what he needed. I told her everything. What had happened to my amazing friend. My decision to get more aggressive help. How broken I was. How I could barely think let alone be a productive member of society. How I hurt. How much I wanted better for me. The rest of that day is pretty much a blur. I needed to pack for my hospitalization. I needed to see my kids. I barely slept that night. Maybe 90 minutes. I was up before the sun and spent it crying nonstop. I went to my friends house to let her know that I would be calling her every day when I could. To hug her and let her know I will be back. I will be better and stronger than ever.
I then stopped by my girlfriend’s work to say “see you soon” and get a final embrace before I head to my mental boot camp. Then I went. What happened next changed my life. Brought me to where I am today. I will win this war. I will with peace. A peaceful mind. At peace with my past. At peace with who I am. At peace with everyone and anyone knowing who I truly am, armor stripped and vulnerable. At peace with my mental illnesses. At peace knowing that I am working hard every day to better myself and my mind. At peace with me…
“Nothing can dim the light that shines from within” -Maya Angelou