World Suicide Prevention Day

As massage therapists humans, we’re in a unique position to be kind to one another. 

In honor of World Suicide Prevention Day 2015, my friend William took the time to film an assortment of Vegas locals who had personal stories to share about suicide. I feel honored to have been included in his project.

Please feel free to share and keep the conversation going. <3

I’m A Big Girl Now

I’ve been growing my little foot spa biz for over two years now. It’s currently at what I feel is a really good place number-wise for a part-time hands-on gig. I look forward to filling things out a little bit more in the upcoming year — booking more appointments further in advance if possible — but I’m happy with where things are right now, too.

I’ve also been engagin’ in a lot of learnin’ about potentially uncomfortable subjects recently, including cancer treatment, oncology massage, and death. I think I even finally know how I want my gravestone to look — complete with a refreshing sense of well-placed joy and excitement! (Cue the weird looks!)

bear

When I first became a massage therapist ten years ago, my retired insurance exec cousin told me I should look into disability insurance. What if I injured my tools? How would I support myself? Her questions were valid.

I ended up working at spas that provided disability insurance as a benefit, but those days are over. Being 100% self employed means I have to think about these things and put on my big girl panties. I have to do the things I dread.

This afternoon I visited my insurance rep, Mary. I’ve purchased my business, homeowner’s and auto insurance through her over the years, and she has always been super helpful. I told her I knew nothing about disability insurance, but I’d appreciate it if she’d talk me through it and present me with my options “in case my arm gets chopped off one of these days”. 

We had a lovely chat about the trials and tribulations of small business life and neighborhood gossip. Then she showed me that I could acquire disability insurance for as little as $23.13 per month. 

Tonight I’ll present my options to my better half and we’ll talk it over while we do laundry and watch Fringe. Being a grown up isn’t always easy, but it’s how things get done…and hopefully done right.

Suicide and Perception, Nine Months Later

Note: Nine months ago my brother-in-law ended his life. This is a follow up to my previous posts on the topic.

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255). They are available to take your call 24/7. International readers should visit the website for the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) to find local resources. We care about you, friends.

***

It’s the day after Thanksgiving. I spent the holiday with my better half here in Las Vegas. I did some computer work during the day, then we went to a local casino movie theater to watch Interstellar. I won’t give anything away, but with lines like “love is the one thing we’re capable of perceiving that transcends time and space” and “no parent should have to watch their child die”, it’s no wonder I had tears streaming down my face by the time the end credits did their thing.

Sometimes it’s good to feel, and frustrating not to. Sometimes it’s agonizing to feel, and tenuously comforting not to. I have blocks of time when I will have “good days” (making progress with personal and work projects, feeling hopeful and like I can actually do things, pushing thoughts of Petey’s last days and his final act away from the forefront of my consciousness) followed by “bad days” (struggling to gain momentum as if I’m walking through quicksand, feeling like I’m wasting my time or my potential, questioning what the point of all of this is, dwelling on Petey’s absence, missing him, and thinking about the evil that some humans are perfectly okay with embracing). These days used to alternate in approximately 24-hour cycles up until a few weeks ago. Now they show up and stick around for multiple planetary rotation periods at a time without respite.

My recent thought patterns feature themes revolving around Petey’s death such as “there’s no possible way to fix this” and “I’m searching for meaning in this and finding none”. Today I felt sorry for myself (not something I’m proud of), broke down and asked Petey as if he were in the room “why did you do this to us?” —  truly not a fair question to ask because I know he was a kind, thoughtful and great guy, but frustration makes us think in strange ways. It’s difficult because I understand where he was coming from and what his intentions were, but I will never place the value of his reasons over the value of his life.

Yet, despite all of the disagreements I have with Petey in my own head and the stupid unanswerable questions I ask him aloud, the real question I want answered is “why did we let this happen to him?”, because that’s the thing I think I can find meaning in and fix. Still, the damage has been done. We can’t bend time, and we can’t tinker with permanence.

When my husband lost his brother and best friend nine months ago I figured I’d be the one he’d lean on for support, but his strength and wisdom keep me going on days like these. Tonight we talked about my struggle with depression that stems from searching for meaning in this devastating loss. He told me to savor the moment, to enjoy it like a bite of food that I just put into my mouth. To experience it slowly, letting the flavor unfold as it will — because for that block of time that is its purpose: to be experienced without meaning.

Here’s another look at the change in perspective that served me well tonight, perfectly illustrated in this scene from Louie where Charles Grodin enlightens Louie about the pleasures of pain, loss and love. Maybe you’ll find comfort in it as well. 

Even though it hurts tremendously, I am thankful for beautiful, heartbroken, walking poem epiphanies.

Suicide, Six Months Later

Note: Six months ago my brother-in-law ended his life. This is a follow up to my previous post on the topic. I want to express my appreciation to everyone who has been supportive of my family throughout this difficult time. Thank you.

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255). They are available to take your call 24/7. International readers should visit the website for the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) to find local resources. We care about you, friends.

***

I like Robin Williams in everything. I was raised on Mork & Mindy. I’ve never seen the man suffer a bad or boring interview. The most recent thing I saw him in was an episode of Louie where a guy they knew died and they went to his funeral, and then to his favorite strip club. The scene ends with Louie and Robin promising to attend each other’s funerals, “whoever dies first”. He had an imaginative, brilliant mind and was important to a lot of people in a lot of ways.

But I’m numb to the news of his suicide.

I’ve been having a very hard couple of weeks. Anxiety. Depression. Mood swings. The works.

Yesterday some careless asshat hit my lit sign outside of my office, hurling it to the ground, sending shattered glass everywhere. I wasn’t there at the time, but when I returned from lunch my super sweet office neighbor relayed the afternoon’s events — at which point I flew into a swear-fueled rage that quickly morphed into a public sobbing fit, my head on her shoulder, tears soaking her t-shirt.

“What can I do to help?” she asked, her arms engulfing me in a much-needed hug.

“Just be my friend.” I sniffled.

Because that’s all anyone can do.

 

Thank goodness for office neighbors like Jamie and Patty. They can fix anything.

Fixing what’s broken with a little help from my friends.

 

I’m not posting this for sympathy or responses. I just need to get it out, as our feeds blow up with RIPs and the tragic nature of it all:

People of the civilized world, take the grief you’re feeling at this moment and multiply it by a million. This is how it feels to lose a loved one (not a celebrity, not a movie star) unexpectedly and by their own hand. You probably can’t even fathom the idea right now, but it could happen in your own family tomorrow. Would you see the clues? Or keep yourself at a mental distance, locked in the safe room known as denial?

The shock of “losing” Cobain in the ’90s didn’t prep me for shit. The shock of a close friend losing his partner three years ago didn’t prep me for shit. I held my friend’s hand and cried by his side for months — years — as he attempted to pick up the pieces and get on with life…yet I didn’t learn a damn thing.

Last week I finally got up the courage to watch The Bridge, a documentary about suicidal folks who jump from the Golden Gate. It was intense, and I agreed with and could relate to a solid 85% of the friends and family members interviewed in that movie. This documentary is depressing as hell, but real and fascinating at the same time. The regrets, vulnerability, ignored signs – everyone’s story is different, yet eerily similar. Watch it and you’ll understand why I walk through my days with a renewed sense of hypervigilance: if you’re a member of my tribe and something sticks out as an odd behavioral change, I’m going to question it. I may come across as crazy, obnoxious, and possibly affected by PTSD, but that’s my new normal and I’m not sorry.

Robin, you were a bright star in a dark world, and I thank you for going there — you just weren’t an integral part of my life. My numbness isn’t intended as disrespect, but as my husband so perfectly explained as I struggled to put thought into words, “Petey meant more to me.”

And he was funny, too.

Autopsy of a Suicide

READ THIS FIRST: Things are about to get real here, people. I hunger for truth, and I am revolted by silence, shame and embarrassment. In an effort to shine a light on a chronic societal problem, I’m going to be describing personal events of a troubling nature in fairly graphic detail. What I’m about to write may disturb some readers, and honestly if it didn’t, I’d wonder about you guys. I just want to give you fair warning: If laying eyes on the gritty truth about a recent suicide that has irrevocably changed my life will impact your remaining days in a negative fashion, please exit the vehicle at this time, and know that I won’t hold it against you. For those staying aboard, hold onto a friend and buckle in tight. (Just to be clear, the views I’m about to express in this post are my own. I cannot speak for anyone else, including the rest of The Young Thumbs.)

It’s also imperative that I remind you I am not a mental health professional. If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255). They are available to take your call 24/7. International readers should visit the website for the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) to find local resources. We care about you, friends.

 

MY STORY

A little over three months ago, a close Vegas friend and I were discussing the recent suicide epidemic. I counted five people whom I knew personally (or were very close to friends of mine) who had removed themselves from the equation since October, 2013. Three in Vegas, two in Oregon, ranging in age from their early-20s to late-50s. Appalled by the body count, I mentioned that someone in our community should write about this in the interest of starting a conversation, though I felt too removed from the situation to warrant my direct involvement. When I attended a memorial service for one of these guys on February 20th, 2014, I had no way of knowing that my beloved brother-in-law (my husband’s 29-year-old brother and best friend) would put a gun to his head and pull the trigger less than one week later.

Nobody in my family (and when I say “my family”, technically I mean my husband’s family, but I’ve known his parents and all nine kids for 22 years now, so they’re mine, too) saw this coming. Petey was the guy who told the best jokes – the witty, off-the-cuff quips and observations we all wish we had such propensity for. He was always curious about and excited by the best stuff in life, with the enthusiasm of a really big kid. He loved to find weird, random, perfect gifts to send to my better half and I, often for no reason in particular. (I have Petey to thank for the 4”-tall skeleton perched upon a toilet that currently graces the top of my Facebook page.) If we were passing through the town in which he lived on our way to someplace else, he would rearrange his schedule so we could spend time together, even if it was for only a few hours in the middle of the day. He made it known that we were always welcome to stay longer – that he really wished we could – and encouraged us to stay the night in the guest bedroom. Petey was fun, kind, real, thoughtful, generous, handsome, outgoing, intelligent, helpful, instantly likeable, and genuinely interested in other people. He was a hard worker and a good provider, with an infectious laugh and a beautiful smile. He put 100% of himself into any task he took on, and into any relationship he deemed worth having. Petey was the best of all of us put into one person. He loved his parents, his family as a whole, his pets, and his wife of eight years whom he adored with all his heart.

When the news of Petey’s death broke (by way of a phone call from my father-in-law 24 hours after Petey passed), we were told that his wife had left their house in Nevada for four days to go on a girls’ trip to California with her friend, and that in her absence Petey had taken a bottle of Xanax, drank himself into oblivion, and took his life without so much as a “goodbye cruel world” scribbled on an old utility bill. His wife’s friend found him when the girls returned to Nevada, after his wife reportedly received a troubling text from him that morning. The day after we found out about Petey’s death, we drove up to their house in Fallon, Nevada (quite possibly the most depressing place in the entire United States), our heads heavy with sorrow and confusion. What happened, exactly? And why? Was the prescription to blame? Considering what we had been told — unanswered questions aside — all of our family members echoed the sentiment: “This wasn’t our Petey.”

We spent the next few days in Fallon, comforting Petey’s wife, cleaning out their house, packing boxes and loading them into a moving truck to be transported to Moab, Utah (where his wife would now be living with her parents), and helping her with the funeral arrangements in any way we could. Discussion regarding the days leading up to Petey’s death was limited: We were told that Petey and his wife had gotten into a little tiff before she left for California, but that little fights like this were not uncommon among couples. She and her parents insisted it must have been the Xanax – that this never would have happened if he hadn’t been taking it.

The lack of a suicide note reinforced our belief that the pills played a role in his death, and that he must have been out of his mind. Thoughtful, lucid Petey, even in the throws of depression, would have left a note to convey a message or to leave certain items to certain people. We began to come to terms with the freakishly tragic manner in which he died, settling for an empty pill bottle in place of detailed explanation or closure, until…

A few days after we arrived in Fallon and were preparing to drive to Moab for the funeral, we were shocked when the detective in charge of the case alerted us to the presence of not one, but four separate suicide notes found in Petey’s jeans pocket, addressed to various family members. We (my husband, my youngest brother-in-law, his partner and myself) read Petey’s letters addressed to the boys amongst ourselves, and although these two specific notes yielded no answers, it became clear that Petey took the time to say goodbye and to express his love to those most important to him before he died. Their notes were entirely coherent and heartbreakingly sweet — and with this new knowledge that he was lucid enough to write four notes, the paradigm shifted, and the grieving process began all over again.

We buried Petey on March 5th, 2014 in a cemetery in Moab, Utah. The service was extremely moving, the most heart-wrenching elements being the eulogies given by Petey’s three brothers and his oldest sister’s husband, and the stories and memories shared by his five sisters while they each took a turn at the lectern. I don’t know what else to say about this day, other than that it was probably the worst day I’ve lived through to date.

The hellish weeks that followed were a mix of tears, sleepless nights, long conversations, what-ifs, and unanswered questions. I was well aware of my duty to take care of my better half while dealing with my own grief in the most productive manner possible. I wrote a blog post about grieving, talked about the situation with my husband, family, and closest friends, and hunkered down at my office. On the days when the depression couldn’t be kept at bay, I struggled to get out of bed and to eat anything substantial. I cried. A lot.

Closure was elusive, as there were still a few key parts to the story that didn’t make sense. In an effort to get a better understanding of Petey’s frame of mind during the days leading up to his death, my husband called the detective who handled the case and inquired about obtaining a copy of the toxicology report based on the blood draw the coroner had performed. Did you know next-of-kin can request a copy of a coroner’s report through the District Attorney’s office? Well they can, and we did.

We were expecting to receive a couple of pages detailing the results of the blood test. What we ended up with was a 51 page document containing reports from the officers who arrived on the scene, time-stamped 911 call records, a graphic description of the position and condition in which Petey’s body was found, the condition of certain personal effects found throughout the house, interviews with Petey’s wife and her friend (including revelations regarding what the fight was really about, which explained volumes), and copies of all four suicide notes (which were heartbreaking to read, yet tremendously informative). Finally, we had uncovered most of the truth about what happened during the last five days of Petey’s life, and although his tragic death was a permanent solution to what some may consider to have been a temporary problem, we now understood where he was coming from and could slowly initiate what will no doubt prove to be an infinitely long healing process.

 

MY THOUGHTS

I have always viewed death by suicide as a personal choice that each of us ultimately has the right to choose. I’ve also always disagreed with the common remark “suicide is a selfish act”. Sure, theoretically, some suicides can be selfish acts, but I believe in most cases the suicidal mind is incapable of thinking in terms of “selfish” versus “unselfish”. There’s just pain, and the overwhelming desire to make the pain go away.  Add hopelessness to the equation, and there you go. I also believe that the difference between the 99.9% hopeless person and the 100% hopeless person is that one of them is a suicide statistic. These are beliefs I’ve held for a long time, and they haven’t changed.

Personally speaking, I’ve battled depression and anxiety disorders (OCD and social anxiety disorder) for years. I’ve felt physical manifestations of pain brought on by mental and emotional turmoil. There have been times in my life when I’ve wished I’d go quietly in my sleep; there have been times I’ve held a full bottle of pain meds in my hand while seriously considering downing the whole thing; there have been times I’ve googled “suicide” because I knew I really needed to read something meant to talk me out of it. Yet through it all, I held onto a faint glimmer of hope, and a faraway memory of better, happier, healthier times.

I still didn’t foresee this happening to Petey.

I’m so thankful that my husband and I had visited Petey on Christmas Eve (just two months before his death), and I can tell you that the classic warning signs didn’t apply here. He seemed a little bit tired back then, but he had just finished working a full shift by the time we arrived in Fallon. He still went to dinner and stayed awake for several hours with us, singing Playstation karaoke and laughing at YouTube videos. In retrospect, I wonder if this was more than just run-of-the-mill fatigue. I wish I had asked more questions along the lines of “How are you doing?”, and then listened (openly and intently) to the real answer.

The changes I had noticed over the last few years were those of a more subdued, more personal nature. Views Petey expressed on a few everyday things no longer jived with what I believed his opinions on these matters to have been in the past. A rare comment here or there about spirituality or the exploration of spiritual beliefs. Vocalized appreciation for specific pop songs trilling tales of broken hearts and love lost. But that’s like half of all pop songs, and these preferences were never expressed with anything other than a smile and a sing-along chorus.

The observations culled from his wife’s social media presence that hinted at potential problems in their relationship spurred logical double takes on my part (I realize in retrospect), but without any clues coming directly from Petey to indicate that anything was wrong at the time, I assumed he knew what was up with his marriage and had everything under control. In an effort to avoid drama or discomfort, I kept my questions to myself. I assumed this was none of my business.

But here we are, one man down.

I’m not saying it’s entirely my responsibility, and I’m not saying I’ll ever be able to convince someone to put off doing the deed, but I’ll be damned if I don’t try. It breaks my heart to imagine Petey home alone for four days, isolated and hurting. It breaks my heart to watch my husband and in-laws grieve for the greatest guy they’ve ever known. The what-ifs, the time machine scenarios, the dreaming followed by waking realizations – these hurt me to my core. I’ve come to understand that this truly is a pain one must live through to comprehend.

That’s why I’m sharing this post, friends. It was tough to write, yet I doubt I’ve ever written anything more important in my life. My emotions regarding this situation and the conversations I have in my head with the people involved are in a perpetual state of flux, however my love and respect for Petey remain constant. I miss him dearly, and I still have days where I struggle with overwhelming feelings of grief and depression. Some days I am overcome with anxiety and a profound fear that someone else I care about is suffering in silence, thinking about pulling that trigger, tying that knot or taking those pills. I can’t shake the feeling of anticipation; the death, the phone call, the next gut punch clear into despair.

The day after we found out about Petey, I asked Allissa “What’s with all the suicides lately?”, to which she replied “The world has gone mad and we’re doing a shitty job of taking care of each other.”

She’s right, you know.

So here’s a challenge for all of us: Let’s take better care of each other before we regret putting work, school, and ourselves ahead of other humans who need us. Let’s build each other up, and validate each other, and express how important we are to each other in this life. Let’s stop kicking the can down the road, assuming we’ve got years’ worth of tomorrows ahead of us. Let’s strive to be more aware of what others may be going through, and to ask each other questions that the older generation may consider rude, embarrassing, or overly personal. Because isolation and silence can be deadly, and because maybe – just maybe – we can make a difference.

Please share this post, your thoughts, and your stories.

Let’s have that overdue conversation.

 

Petey (left), my better half (center), and myself. Wedding day, Vegas, 2009.

Petey (left), my better half (center), and your humble narrator (right). Wedding Day, Vegas, 2009.

 

RESOURCES

My husband started a blog in honor of Petey. He’d love it if you’d check it out.

Again, here’s that article on the suicide epidemic.

Here’s Anderson Cooper talking to Howard Stern about a lot of stuff, including his brother’s suicide. Tune in at the 13 minute mark if you’re short on time. (Thanks so much for this link, Tommy. I honor your wisdom and admire your strength. <3)

Add the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on Facebook.

Once again, if you’re feeling suicidal, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255). They are available to take your call 24/7. International readers should visit the website for the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) to find local resources.

You are loved. Believe it.

Terror in Boston

A few months ago Bon Vital’ and the Massage Therapy Foundation contacted me, to see if I was interested in going to the Boston Marathon to shoot pictures and videos of the three runners that were Running for Research – Kathy Borsuk (Hillborough Massage Therapy), Tom Heidenberger (Bon Vital’) and Les Sweeney (ABMP). I was excited, because I’ve never been to the Boston Marathon before and I thought this was a chance of a lifetime. The MTF was able to get me VIP seating and I could be right at the finish line, so I could record all of the runners crossing the finish line.

Screen Shot 2013-04-19 at 11.28.49 AMThe day before the marathon was a great day. The runners were all excited and a little nervous. We did some pre-event video and pictures and I even had them guess who of the three would finish first. We had a great dinner sponsored by Bon Vital’ that night and everyone tried to get a goodnight sleep.  Paul Slomski (Development Manager at Massage Therapy Foundation) and I stayed up to meet Allissa Haines, who came into Boston for a visit. *(Kathy and Tom on April 14th)

I need to give you some personal background here. The start of April 15th was hard from the start, because 14 years ago, my family buried my sister who was killed by a drunk driver on April 12th in 1999. She was 17 years old and only 2 months away from graduating high school. 309_20846031590_9238_nThe drunk driver was driving in the wrong direction on the highway and a car in front on my sister swerved at the last second and my sister didn’t even have time to react. She was a organ donor and the only things we were able to donate were her corneas (everything else was not usable). The drunk driver served only 4 years and I heard from some friends, that he started drinking right after he got out of jail. April 15 is a tough day for me. *(Beth Ann Hoyme, Killed April 12th, 1999)

photoNow, back to the race day. Paul and I got up at 6am to wish Tom good-luck. We were a little bummed that we couldn’t be at the start of the race, but with 27,000 runners, the logistics were difficult, so we didn’t complain.  Paul worked out that morning and I went to work editing pictures and videos I shot the previous day. Then, around noon both Paul and I headed to the finish line. We grabbed a cab and the driver took us to the finish line, but after we left the cab, we realized it was the wrong side of the street. Luckily, we had some time and after asking 10+ people how to get to the other side and walking about 15 blocks, we managed to get over  to the grandstands. We had a couple of hours to wait, before the runners would cross the finish line and we waited in the stands and I wandered around taking pictures. We downloaded the Boston Marathon app and we could tell how close they were (there were 4 different check-points) and the app would tell us when they crossed each one. *(This was the last check-point all three runners passed)

At 2:49pm EST, I tested my video camera and played back the video to make sure it was good. Then, at 2:51pm EST a loud noise right across from us went off and a huge puff of white smoke.

Screen Shot 2013-04-19 at 11.26.15 AMAt first I thought it was fireworks. I didn’t know what to expect at the marathon, because I’ve never been to one. I turned on my video camera right after that and noticed people lying on the ground and then I captured the second bomb on video. There was chaos going on in the stands and the security guards were directing us into safety. I tried to videotape as long as I could, before they escorted us off the stands. The security guards and police did an awesome job at controlling the situation after the bombs happened. Paul and I saw bodies lying on the street after the white smoke settled. *(Screenshot of the video I shot of the second bomb)

Right after that, we were taken out of the area and I took some pictures of people being evacuated in wheelchairs and stretchers. One of the people was missing both of his legs and all I could see is a tibia bone (I will not post those pictures).
Krystle Campbell
Screen Shot 2013-04-19 at 2.59.26 PMDSC_0746
 *(Left – Picture of Krystle Campbell, just minutes before she was killed)
*(Right – Picture of Jeff Bauman, just minutes before he lost his legs)
*(Bottom – Picture I took at 2:43pm EST, of the crowd of people where the first bomb went off)
**Click on any picture to enlarge it.

It was a horrible experience and I can’t even imagine what the victims and family members are going through. I posted on my facebook profile, that there were two bombs that just went off at the Boston Marathon and my neighbor saw my post and contacted me right away through facebook (her husband is a meteorologist in the city where I live in) and asked me if I wanted to share my experience with the local news station.  I told her I would do a phone interview in a couple of hours and I told her I would send her the video I shot, once I can get a computer and internet connection.

Screen Shot 2013-04-20 at 1.13.50 PMAllissa Haines saw my post and was making sure everyone was accounted for and she flooded facebook to let people know we were all right, once everyone was accounted for. *(I did a screenshot of this, but it shows CST, so it was actually 2:52pm EST)

Paul and I started looking for a cab right after that, and we couldn’t find one anywhere (he carried my bag most of the way, because I was trying to take pictures and messaging/calling my friends and relatives).  The phone service wasn’t that good and only a few text messages went through and I finally got a hold of my wife to let her know I was ok. She was on another line and told me that she would call me right back, but then I told her about the bombings and she immediately turned on the t.v. and was just thankful I wasn’t harmed. So, we started walking many blocks and finally found a place we could stay for a while.

photoFlann O’Briens was a bar we stopped at (all the other places were at full capacity) and they went above and beyond helping us. They found out that I shot some video of the tragedy and they even gave me their computer to upload my footage. They must have known somebody at the BBC, because they had me do a phone interview with them. I then uploaded the video to my facebook page (5:45pm EST), and soon after that to my YouTube channel.
*(Here is the video I shot)

After that, I kept getting emails from news stations from all over the US and the world, for permission to use my footage I shot. I didn’t even think about it for a second and gave everyone permission to use it (it was viewed on CNN, MSNBC, ESPN and all the other major networks). Some people afterwards told me, why don’t you sell your footage to the news stations, but I could never do that. I uploaded the video to my dropbox and sent some of the news stations a link (I didn’t have my computer, so I couldn’t upload it to my server). After a few hours I got a message that my dropbox was suspended, because there was too much public traffic to the video that I uploaded.

I then got emails and calls from all over, asking if I could do phone interviews. The BBC interviewed me 3 times; Ireland, Australia, Canada and others I can’t remember interviewed me. I was functioning on total adrenalin and nothing really sank in at this point. I also got an email from the Katie Couric Show and they wanted me to do a Skype interview, but I told them I had my flight scheduled for early the next morning on the 16th. Then told me they would fly me to her studio and then back home.

I contacted the local police that night, to let them know I had videos and pictures throughout the day of the first bombing site. They called the FBI and Homeland Security and I met with them soon afterwards and gave them copies of everything I shot.

April 15th, I was only able to get an hour of sleep, because news agencies kept calling and I was still running on adrenalin, so I did all the interviews (over 25 of them). Then I got up at 4am on the 16th, to catch a flight to the Katie Couric Show. Her staff went above and beyond in helping me feel comfortable and they even ordered two meals for me (one by mistake).  There was a lot of action before they went live and I was scheduled to go on at 12:30pm EST. They said the show is usually recorded and a week later they release it, but since they wanted to get the show out right away, they recorded it and aired it two hours later. I was too exhausted to be nervous about being on the show, but after the taping it all hit me and I started feeling guilty for having these sad thoughts about the ordeal.
*(On the Katie Couric Show April 16th)

I got on a plane back to Minnesota and I couldn’t sleep, because of all the thoughts running through my head. When I got back to Minnesota, my family was at the airport to pick me up. We went to Cherry Berry (Yogurt Bar) to celebrate my return and I was too wiped out to feel any enjoyment.

I realized on Wednesday that I made a whole bunch of international calls. I called AT&T and told them my situation and they waived all my fees (they said they usually don’t do that, but this was a special circumstance). I’ve hated AT&T up until this moment and they really stepped up to the plate.

I slept most of the night on my first night back, but I got up a couple of times breaking out in sweats (I’m still getting them). I’ve been feeling like crap, so I made an appointment with a psychologist (earliest time I could get is in a few weeks). I was totally overwhelmed with all the support on my facebook profile, twitter and my facebook page. I want to thank everyone for everything you have done to support me and the other people affected by this, and even though I haven’t met most of you in person, I really feel a connection with all of you. On April 17th I had to disconnect from facebook for a while, because I just needed time with my family.

Some of the “what ifs” running through my head:
·      If we didn’t arrive early to the finish line, Paul and I would be right in the area where the first bomb went off.
·      There were reports of other bombs and one report said; that there was a bomb under our grandstand…luckily it wasn’t true.
·      Just ten minutes before the first bomb went off, I was taking pictures in other areas.

I know and understand the lasting trauma of an experience like this, that’s why I’m getting some help. I wanted to tell you my story here, partly because it’s healing to me, also because it’s tough to have to repeat it over and over to people. I hope you understand when I ask that you let me get through this, and don’t approach me with questions about the experience for a while. I honestly would love to respond to each and everyone one of you, but at this time, I’m going through too much and I need to take care of myself.

assaIf there was any positives out of this day, is that the Massage Therapy Foundation raised over $50,000 and all of us were unharmed. So many people have said that my sister was my guardian angel and she was watching over me that day.

I’ve been having a lot of mixed emotions after they caught the 2nd suspect. From joy, to anger and everything in between. I’m not looking forward to the trial, because after my sister was killed, the trial lasted about a year and I had to keep reliving it.

I never realized what people who have witnessed these traumatic events felt, until it happened to me. Luckily, I’m scheduled to get help soon and I don’t want it to affect my work and home life.

Sincerely,
Ryan Hoyme

P.S. Thank you, Allissa Haines for editing this post…I was in no shape to edit it.
P.S.S. I’m so relieved that none of the other people I know where injured, that were there (Leslie Young, Cliff Korn, Drew Freeman, Mary White and all the others).