Sunday, September 30, 2018 Mark’s the end of an epic journey. A total of 9 months on the water. The trials and tribulations of such a long journey.
The wear and tear on equipment, the solitude, the people that I have met and those that open their homes and or shared meals with.
Now that I lay here awake at 3:19AM thinking I am just days away from the end a mere 20 nm from the finish I reflect on the mission.
One man one mission to save thousands.
I have no way of knowing how many combat veterans saw the 3 times I was on tv, or heard me the 5 times I was on the radio or read the many newspaper articles I was in but I would like to think many did. I would like to think that they understood the sacrifices that I made just to get the word to them that they had a better option than ending their life. That ending their life didn’t solve the problem it only changed it or created a new one.
I look back at the time in North Carolina when I was down and depressed and wanted to quit, wallowing in self pity and then focusing on the Mission22 sticker on my bow realizing my life was much better than those I am trying to help which renewed my purpose.
My own struggles at the KOA in Myrtle Beach with my PTSD triggered by tour helicopters. There are 2 sides of me the regular me and the trained/react me. The first morning as I was laying in my tent the tour helicopters started at 10 am. They fly right along the beach at low altitude. To a normal person it’s just a tour, to the react side of me someone drowned and it’s a call to action. I bolted from my tent and started for the beach in a near run.
One of the other campers asked where I was going in a rush. I said there is a search and rescue going on and I have to go help. He said no it’s just a tour helicopter. I stood there dazed and confused bouncing back and forth between normal and react me. He showed me it was a tour helicopter and I went back and layed down. I tried to deal with this conflict for 3 full days. I even went to the beach to watch them to better deal with it. It didn’t help. Other emotions started building up and I had to leave.
Damage was done I got further down the coast where it was quit and moved further 2 more times but my demons were winning the battle. I was losing it and called my brother in Florida to come rescue me. I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t concentrate, I couldn’t clear my head, I was losing my mind. I knew the dark road I was heading down and I didn’t want to go there.
KARMA has been with me the whole trip. It has been a compelling force to talk to certain people like you know your meant to. I was destined to meet and talk to these people for a reason. Some of the people would tell me god sent you to me. The people who o had met who lost people to suicide seemed to have found peace from our encounter had a better understanding. I am glad I could help.
I will finish the trip at the southern most point with a feeling of fulfillment and accomplishment.
Knowing I survived, persevered, overcome the odds, and grew more.