September 30, 2010
On the day I was arrested, I was saved from a life consumed by Oxycontin. Though it didn't seem so at the time of my arrest, it was good for me and was the 1st day of the rest of my life.
I was sent to the ADOC for a 2.5 year sentence for charges including Fraud, Forgery and obtaining Narcotics by Fraud. I ended up at ASPC-Lewis/Eagle Point Unit to complete my sentence. As you may know, a former Police Officer is not held in high regard amongst inmates, let alone an 11 year veteran of the Phoenix PD. If you ask any current or former cop, most will tell you that they'd rather be shot than sent to a place where almost everyone hates cops. This forced me to become constantly aware of my surroundings and wondering if I was going to be assaulted or killed simply because of a job I used to do. Having seen both sides of the fence (no pun intended!), it's made me grow as a person. The main things I've learned are that the smallest things shouldn't be taken for granted and that addiction can happen to anybody. I learned to love small things again because I was forced to go without them. Everything is a luxury after that experience, including being alive to be a father to my son.
I have seen the Criminal Justice System from both sides. I learned that I tried to use a crutch in the form of drugs and that led to my incarceration. I was scared for my life every day and even hit rock bottom to the point where taking my own life became a seemingly rational thought. I felt I couldn't live with the shame I had brought to myself and my family. I could never face anyone I'd known when I was a police officer. I was wearing orange instead of blue. It was all so surreal. As I looked around, I wondered if any of the inmates would know I was a former cop, or if I'd arrested anyone of the inmates I now lived with on a daily basis. I call it a "MindFxxk". The constant pressure of these ideas takes a toll on you emotionally. I was so concerned about being aware of my surroundings, so I wouldn't get killed, that I found little time doing anything else. As time passed, I began meeting people only sharing my military experiences with them, unable to tell them that I wore a badge, too. I slowly found some acquaintances but few people I could call a friend.
I was released on parole April 19, 2010, but violated paroled for a Technical Violation on May 28, 2010, returning to Eagle Point on June 10, 2010.
Upon returning, I was an emotional mess once again, being separated from my family and having to go through the daily stress and stigma of being a recidivism statistic. People who I thought liked me and claimed to be my friend before I left allowed me to walk around in flip flops, not offering to lend me a pair of shoes to ear until I could purchase some. The irony of it was that I had given people my extra shoes upon my April departure.
I was given a roommate-Shannon Clark. A person who I'd only spoken to briefly on my previous stay (before my April release). Now, he was my roommate and I wasn't too sure he was too excited about me coming into his space. As a former cop, I was overly sensitive about not being welcomed because of that, and was on guard before I even stepped into a simple conversation with him.
Upon my arrival, I spoke with some people whom I knew from before and learned that when I left in April it became common knowledge that I had been a police officer. Several people joked about how they "could tell".
I spoke with Shannon and he immediately let me know he had no problem with my being an ex-cop, and we became fast friends. He was one of the only people who welcomed me with open arms and helped me in any way he could. Shannon gave me hygiene items, clothing (because ADOC had none), and told me to help myself to anything of his. He showed me a lot that day and our close friendship really began on that day. He knew that I was having a really hard time emotionally, not being able to speak to my family and not knowing what their mindset was. Were they disappointed? Mad at me? or did they hate me? I was dwelling on this day and night and the fact that some of my so-called friends, who even communicate with my family, turned out not to be friends at all, turning their backs on me when I needed a friend most and even purposely driving a wedge between my family and me with lies. My only friend here seemed to be Shannon, who I really only knew for one day. He listened to me and sometimes that's all one needs to do to help.
As the week went by, the emotional stress built up. I was ashamed to have returned and all I was comfortable with when I left in April seemed to be all gone. My feelings were hurt and I felt alone except for my roommate Shannon.
A few days after I arrived at Eagle Point, I received a letter from my father. The letter basically said that he was shocked by my return to ADOC and that my mother refused to speak or contact me. He said that he had not given up on me "yet" but he and my mother were devastated. Without getting too personal, I believed that I had totally decimated our family due to my actions and I think I took the letter out of context, but with my mental state at the time, I was also giving up on myself. Even the friendship of Shannon couldn't stop what I was believing the letter had said-my interpretation. That was the final straw that broke my spirit.
On Friday, June 18th, I planned to put an end to my family's disappointment in me and also put an end to my shame-I could not face them again. I thought they'd be better off without me. I attempted to kill myself that night. This was no cry for help. I really wanted to end what I was going through (obviously selfish) and did not want to-couldn't-face my family again. I went to bed with the intention of not waking up. I planned so that I would not be found for at least 12 hours, giving enough time to die in Buckeye, AZ, in the bunk above Shannon. I really liked Shannon and felt bad that I had no other option but to do this in my own room and bed. I wrote a note on my father's letter explaining some facts that led to my decision to do this. The things that made my decision to do this truly selfish act were one by one bubbling to the top and by receiving the letter from my father made me feel as if I'd lost everything left that was dear to me. My son and my parents. At that point my self-esteem was practically nil and I felt taking my own life was my only option. Had I rationally thought this through, I would have seen that I was being unfair to everyone who loved me. I was also going to do this in my bunk right above a person (no, the only person) who showed me unconditional friendship and didn't think how it would affect him. I didn't think about my son living life without a father or my parents who always supported and loved me would be burying their child. I just wanted the quick-easy way out. Once again, what was best for me.
I am a planner. No seat-of-the-pants things for me. This wasn't impulsive at all. I planned it down to the smallest detail and felt it would be done and everyone would be better off-especially me.
I woke up in the West Valley ICU. I was barely coherent and had multiple tubes in me helping me breath and putting medication in my body that I tried to destroy. As I became more aware of my surroundings, I listened to the doctor tell me that several organs had shut down and they were doing their best to help me. The doctor wasn't positive about my prognosis and told me that thought I was awake, I still may not survive. I have been faced with more life and death situations than most people due to my choices in professions. I chose those professions not because I had a death wish, but because if someone isn't there to do the right thing and help the "little guy", who will? I am now the "little guy" needing someone to help me live. At some point, I realized I wanted to live, not die, but I many not get the option any longer. For a choice I made, planned out and and so sure I wanted; I chose to live, not die like a coward.
In my life I've put my life in danger to help other people and that may have defined me in my own mind. But now I didn't want to die and cringed at the thought of what my family was thinking now, on top of everything else. The hits just keep on coming.
I laid in the hospital bed hearing beeps and my heart, hoping my body would keep fighting and not give up. My brain now won't give up. I wouldn't let it. I kept telling myself that I can turn things around. I'm not sure if the hospital had some miracle "life is good-be positive" drug, but I say they did. At that moment, I chose to fight and survive, even though just hours earlier my roommate found me in my bed barely alive and barely breathing, by my own choosing.
I guess the time I was unconscious I gave serious thought to my perceived problem and I said to myself (Self...lol) I've been through a lot and seen a lot in my life, and though I've made mistakes, sometimes over and over, there has to be a reason I'm still around. I've cheated death several times and come out on top. There is a reason for this and I must serve a purpose on this earth after I pass these speed bumps that I've put in my path. I owe it to my son and parents to do the right thing. I owe it to myself. At that moment of realization, my life changed and my thought process did too. I stayed in the hospital for 7 days. ICU for two of those days. My kidneys shut down, I had a mild heart attack and some other complications that'll require medication for the rest of my life, but I survived.
I've battled addiction, depression and life changes that were devastating to me and my family. I didn't go through it alone. They were with me every step of the way. I wanted to show them I could do it successfully and make this chapter in my life a memory.
When I returned to Eagle Point, I was given Shannon as a roommate again. I apologized to him for what I'd done and put him through. I didn't intend to do anything that'd put him in a bad mental state, but unfortunately I did. We've talked it through and moved forward.
One week later, my phones were on and I spoke to my father. I learned that after my mother found out about my suicide attempt and critical condition, she was rushed to the hospital where she stayed for several days due to a heart condition, made worse by stress (yes...me). She has since recovered and my father visits me regularly. We've spoken about my situation and I've realized that I made things out to be worse than the actually were. My mother and I have reconciled and had heart to heart talks. I go home in October. There's a lot of love in this world. Just try to appreciate those who show you love.
1 day ago