My name is Dominick Juliano and I almost committed suicide.
There, I said it. I almost became a statistic. I know it probably sounds weird but it’s one event in my life (amongst meeting my wife and my son being born) I am thankful for the most. At that moment when I was at my absolute lowest, when I was so drunk I could not see straight and the Valium had wrapped it’s greedy claws around my mind and begun to squeeze, I knew eventually the two Ambien I had taken would soon pull me all the way down the drain and into the gutter where I knew I currently fit in. The place where I felt so many people had readily tossed me when all I ever wanted in life was to belong somewhere.
I knew things would go easy from that point. I had seen enough suicide victims in my time as a military policeman. I had studied suicide in Grad school. I had suicide awareness crammed down my throat once a month at work. My professional military education contained whole blocks of instruction on suicide. And unfortunately, I had a lot of friends who were committing suicide. So I guess that kinda makes me an expert on the subject and I assure you, things would have gone easy.
My life was an absolute fucking mess. My career was over. My wife and I were bickering non-stop about everything and I will be honest, I was a pill-addicted drunken loser. I remember picking up a framed photo of my son and feeling dizzy and off-balance. I remember feeling like the world turned to the side and then down. That must have been when I finally fell to the floor and smacked the side of my face, knocking myself unconscious.
When I woke up the following morning I was holding the framed photo of my son and noticed I had cracked the glass. I couldn’t even manage to take my life correctly, I destroyed something that was so precious to me, I had a deep gash next to my right eye and I had the worst friggin headache I had ever felt in my entire life.
But I was alive.
It was the end of my end. (You’ll understand this better in time, I promise).
I want to be clear about something, I thought about taking my life but I never attempted it. At that point I had allowed myself to become so gutless, blowing my brains out with my firearm took entirely too much courage. Even that method of suicide was beyond my ability of achieving. After that I decided I was going to kill myself through continuing to eat, drink, and pollute myself to death. Fast food was my crutch. I mean I never cared anymore to cook so it was kind of easy to eat ready made food when I justified my laziness with it. I was torturing my body, this incredible body I love so very much today.
This suit of armor I wrap my scared 6-year-old self in every day. This incredible vessel I feel the utmost privilege living inside until my final day. Why would I ever want to destroy it? I had survived so many years of abuse, toxic family and homelessness before I even became an adult and joined the military. This skinny malnourished body survived and pulled through. This body became muscular, learned to harness my ferocious aggression and channel it into my fists and firearms. I became consistent. I became a warrior and a member of a team. My God what was wrong with me?
I was depressed. I was alone. I was almost 300lbs. I had no friends, my family was over 100 miles away from me 95% of the time and I was being forced to retire from a career I had sacrificed so much to remain a part of and received so little acknowledgement. I felt cheated. I realize now it was the best thing for me but at the time I felt like no matter what I did, I would never again be good enough to anyone because I would never again feel like the Rockstar I was before events in my life had begun to go sideways during a deployment in Iraq (the beginning of my end).
The biggest challenge I faced was the fact I was encouraged to blame myself. Through action and not by intention I was forced to accept “consequences” for doing my job, being at the wrong place at the wrong time and then asking for help when I knew there was something seriously wrong with me. Our system of mental health in the military places emphasis on “what to do to him” versus “what do we do with him.” There is a difference in doing something “to” an individual versus “with” them.
I fell down this deep dark hole because I tried so hard to be a part of something and it ended up costing me dearly. It cost me not because of what happened to me but because I allowed others to forget about me when I needed them the most. To ignore me when I would ask for help. To ostracize me when they knew I had a problem because they were simply incapable of handling someone with a Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It made me different for a time, before I could get the help I needed.
There, I’m accepting what I’ve been told happened to me. I have PTSD. And it sucks because I have some anxiety issues. I have a TBI and my short term memory sucks ass so bad I simply can’t remember small details at times unless I write them down. That is another topic I will address another day.
I was put into a toxic situation where people just did not want to deal with me and I was well aware of it. I would have changed everything about myself if I could, but it is impossible to be yourself: (a clear headed and OPIOID-FREE individual) when you have been told you have to be someone else: (a pill-head), or you will lose everything you have worked and almost lost your life for the past two decades. That’s what it boiled down to, if I did not comply with an inexperienced Doctor recommendation for an incredibly heavy dosage of medications, I would be separated from my career that I loved for medical non-compliance and my family and I would receive little to nothing for our sacrifices.
As you can see, refusing to take the medication I was told was a “cure-all” and was designed to “make me better” was not an easy choice despite the terrible person those medications made me. I lost the very social skills I developed as a scared young boy. The ability to immediately recognize threatening behavior. The ability to communicate through touch. The ability to actually “listen” to the things I was trying to hear. Ask a fellow person who also has hearing damage what this means to them. I think you will be quite surprised what they tell you.
My medications did not help me. They numbed me on top of already feeling numb after the blast. They slurred my speech so bad I sounded like I had a bad foreign accent. Then I drank alcohol on top of that which completely zombified me. Most people do not understand when veterans sometimes say they cannot feel. We rarely allow ourselves to understand emotions and then try to justify it further by the numbing effects of alcohol and opioids. As a result, we feel even more depressed and detached. It’s really not difficult to feel that way when you have little to no support system as well as needy narcissistic in-laws who have taken over your marriage and treat you like dirt. If I could have changed even one day of my time in Springfield, I would have done whatever it took. But the past is in the past and I truly feel my experiences have given me a perspective I can use to assist others.
So, what changed? For starters, I got out of the toxic situation I was in. I got away from the people who forced me into “their” version of who I should be and how I should think. I began to feel significant improvements in my own attitude. My VA Psychiatrist IMMEDIATELY lowered and eliminated unnecessary medications. My wife and I moved out into the country with our son and our little dog so I could finally be alone and at peace. I absolutely love my town but I have spent too many years of my life amongst conflict in the Middle East and I just need to be away from other people now. I stopped relying on alcohol to remove my pain. I stopped relying on pain killers to remove my pain. Rather I embrace and address what is causing my pain. I eat healthy again. I take care of my body again. I learned to love myself again. It wasn’t easy and I truly think it took “an act of God.” On the 13th of this month I have hopefully the last ultrasound of my liver to confirm the damage I inflicted to it has reversed. According to my liver function panel and chemistry I stopped killing myself in time to be able to recover. No more threats of a biopsy, no more heart rate monitor and no more blood pressure medication.
Why am I putting this incredibly personal information out into the world-wide webs? Because I don’t care if someone judges me for my actions. I made mistakes and I learned from them. I only care how others feel, NOT what they think. I understand the difference now and their importance. I have decided to publish this post on my blog for several reasons. For one, if the details of my life I am writing this book about can reach even one person who is out there right now and is feeling like I felt and convince them that it’s not over unless you say it’s over, then I will accomplish my objective.
I believe you only fail when you stop trying. If you are so willing to give up then why try to begin with? Life is not fair and there are NO free handouts. If I have reached you and you need me, I want you to know I’m working on how I can help you. I’m figuring out how to find you. I’ll come running toward you with outstretched hands like I was trained to do for so long. You are an amazing person and if you just give yourself a chance I promise you can be happy. I’m gonna get this message of mine out somehow. Until then I want you to know something: “YOU ARE NOT ALONE.”
Okay, I know this is going to prompt a little public awkwardness with the one or two people who actually read the boring shit I post on this blog and then see me in person. Understand one thing: if you let any of this shit bother you then that is YOUR choice. I have made peace with the person I am. I am not afraid to admit I’ve made a few mistakes along the way. I’m not afraid of making more if I learn from them.
Every day that goes by now is another opportunity to bring happiness into another person’s life. Every day is another opportunity to lift one another up, not tear each other down. If at any point this information I have shared inspires you then I encourage you to take a look at the people around you and ask yourself one question: “how am I affecting the way others feel around me vs. worrying what what others think?”
Be a leader. WE NEED LEADERS, NOT LIKERS.
I knew eventually I was going to have to start talking about the difficult stuff and now that I have begun, writing about it should be that much easier. I think. In the meantime, I continue to become the person I have always been but could not allow myself to be. Things are different now. I got through my shit and now I will use it to help others. I have a goal and I have conviction. I’m going to turn my misfortune into what lifts up myself and others the most. I’m out looking for solutions and not begging for more problems. This should be pretty cool. I need to make another video but typing this was a lot easier.
You’re Welcome. Internet.