A local veteran found himself in a dark tunnel, struggling to make it through on his own. He saw a shimmer of light that helped guide him through and granted him the courage to face another day.
“I stay in a constant type of depression,” said Chad Perry, a US Army veteran from Navasota. He said people who know him wouldn’t suspect depression because he is a very outgoing person. “I can win an Oscar. I can make you think I’m happy as Hell. Then one day it all came collapsing down at once and I was kind of like, forget this.”
Perry served in the army from 1999 until 2009. He was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. He has vivid memories of the horror he witnessed – from seeing fellow soldiers and friends killed in the line of duty – to having to kill as well.
In the military he said one of the ways people cope is by consuming alcohol. He said it is a way to forget, but it also fuels depression.
Walls began to crumble Perry recalled about a month ago when the weight of depression began to be overbearing and walls began to crumble in his life.
“I was at work on a Monday and people started noticing [something was wrong] and asked me what was wrong,” he said. “I tried to fake it saying, yeah I’m good. Y’all tripping. It immediately went back to that stone cold face. No emotion at all.” Throughout the day people continued to ask if he was okay.
When he went home, he didn’t eat and couldn’t fall asleep. He called into work the next day, and the next... for four consecutive days. “Before I missed those four days, I had given up hope and I knew that was not good,” he explained.
“I just didn’t want to deal with this. Of course, I have my kids, so I think about that. I said that is completely unfair to them. I would hate to do that because it’s horrible.”
Just reach out
Perry said he always heard about the veteran crisis hotline and thought about calling but didn’t know what to expect. He was afraid of the questions they might ask and that he would be perceived as suicidal. And he didn’t know how being labeled suicidal would affect his children. “I thought they might come take my kids from me because of this. I didn’t know what was going to happen because I never had to deal with this in my life before.”
Finally, Perry said, “I’m just going to call and wing it.” He dialed for help, and on the other end of the line was a lady named Tiffany - someone who “actually validated” his feelings. “Validated my emotions,” he said. “It was like I was talking to my best friend.”
“We talked for about an hour,” said Perry. “She listened but she also gave feedback. It was an incredible feeling. It helped me get out of that mental state for the moment.”
For a moment Perry began to feel good about the situation but his mental state was far from secure. Thoughts clouded his mind. He reflected on why he was in the state he was in, while part of him thought, “I’m already here, let’s party.” The next day depression remained so he took the day off from work.
By Wednesday, he knew he needed to reach out for help again. He went to the VA Health Clinic in College Station and told them he needed to speak to someone. “I told them I’m having intrusive thoughts and I need to speak to someone right now.”
He spoke with someone as they awaited a counselor. Having reached out to the veteran crisis hotline previously, it helped him be willing to seek help and open up about how he was feeling. The conversation was nothing like he anticipated. There were a range of emotions during the visit, they laughed together, he was able to cry despite the stigma that men have to hide their emotions, and he knew this is not merely people providing a service, they are people that truly care.
Perry urges anyone, “If you are ever feeling any type of way, especially suicidal, or if you are just feeling down. Just call that number.” He said being able to reach out to someone that cares is the first step to obtaining help and winning the battle against depression. “Even if you aren’t depressed but just having a bad day and need someone to talk to, reach out to them.”
Since reaching out, Perry has been connected to resources that are helping him in his day-to-day life. He communicates with other veterans over video chat, has developed a routine and is living a healthier lifestyle.
Veteran crisis line is available day or night. Dial 988, then press 1), chat (VeteransCrisisLine. net/Chat), or text, 838255 to receive crisis support.