Russell Armstrong Is Proof That Killing Myself Would Be Final

by Sherry Riter in Depression,Health,PTSD,Self-Development  ,Suicide

suncatcher lighthouse

At any given moment, life can be turned upside down by one event. Not only by events that affect thousands or millions such as war, a large scale terrorist attack, tsunami, fire and plague, but by things that happen just to one person or family like the suicide of Russell Armstrong, husband of “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” cast member, Taylor Armstrong. He no longer has a voice or an opinion because he killed himself – no second chances, replays or do-overs. Russell is gone and it is final.

When I was growing up, there was a family on our street that kept to themselves, were very quiet, but seemed happy. The handsome father would always be doing something with and for the family: cooking on the grill, teaching the children to ride bicycles, building a tree house, washing the car, flying kites, playing catch or a hundred other things.

One day, the father took the children somewhere and the mom stayed home. It was just a regular excursion. Nothing out of the ordinary. Well, at least that is what they all thought first thing in the morning as the family car backed out of the driveway.

Not too long after they had left home, life dramatically changed for the family. As the car with the father and children were driving down the highway, a car coming from the opposite direction drove over the concrete median and became airborne. The little family was in the wrong place at the wrong time because the airborne car had a head on collision with them.

The father and one child immediately died.

The family would forever be different.

Unlike the Tsunami in Japan or the terrorist bombing of the Twin Towers in New York City, Presidents, Kings and Prime Ministers of nations did not call and offer their condolences to my childhood neighbors. I remember her friends, family and people from her church visited, but the flags at the Capitol in Washington D.C. did not fly at half-mast. It was not that this family was not important, but it was just one family that had a terrible misfortune so the rest of the world had no knowledge of the tragedy or the pain that the living relatives suffered.

The mother had lost a husband and a child, so the catastrophe may not have included thousands of people, but it was still a heart-wrenching, soul-piercing catastrophe for the family.

“Your history is no less important to your
survival than your ability to breathe.
In the end,
you can only determine whether to
saturate your memories with
pain or with perspective.
Forgetting is not an option.”
~ Ted Dekker ~

The other day, I wrote about the first time I went “insane” which was at the end of my parents marriage and shortly before their divorce. While writing the post, I could feel all the emotions from those moments. The scene was like a movie and I seemed to hover above the whole room. I watched as I freaked out and felt great compassion for the thin redheaded child whose heart was breaking and mind was filled with confusion.

My fingers stopped typing and I just let the whole scene play out while I felt all the emotions come and eventually dissipate like fog on an early morning in Autumn. After taking a deep breath, I resumed typing the rest of my post thankful that those days are over.

The next morning as I read the comments, I found one from my sister which said...

“I feel like I’m going to throw up. Reliving all that is heart-wrenching. I wish I could wash all of those memories out of my head.”

I immediately thought of Job from the Bible and Helen Keller. Job had everything – possessions, riches and family – and he lost it. Job was determined not to curse God and insisted on believing that he would be blessed in spite of what others, including his wife, said about his circumstance. Eventually, Job once again acquired great wealth and even had more children.

Helen Keller, like Job, suffered. Before Helen Keller was two years old, she got very sick and it caused her to become deaf and blind. She was very frustrated, but eventually learned how to communicate with others. Life was not easy, yet she became a world-famous speaker and accomplished author.

Both Job and Helen Keller suffered through adversity, but in the end used what they had learned to mold themselves into better people.

“Character cannot be developed
in ease and quiet.
Only through experience of
trial and suffering
can the soul be strengthened,
vision cleared,
ambition inspired,
and success achieved.”
~ Helen Keller ~

I am not Job.

I am not Helen Keller.

I am not the mother who was my childhood neighbor.

I am me and that is all I can be. I have my own unique set of traits, strengths and weaknesses. No one else will ever inhabit the Earth and be just exactly like me. I am completely unique. None of my unique characteristics make me better or worse than anyone else – it is just me.

A little over fifteen months ago, I had a very traumatic event happen in my life which was followed shortly thereafter with yet another very traumatic event. Both were completely unexpected and have totally altered my life. In PTSD and Slap Yourself, I revealed to some extent the hellish nature of my affliction due to my body’s reaction to the trauma I experienced. Since writing that post, I discovered that I am even more unique than I formerly believed.

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) flashbacks usually happen at most a few times a day. During those moments, it is as if the person is living through the traumatic event all over again. Their heart races, breath quickens, blood pressure rises and all the chemicals related to the “fight or flight response” are released. Those moments are very anxiety producing and can cause the person to feel physically ill. Usually all normal activity comes to a halt until the flashbacks end.

I too have suffered flashbacks. Not just one, two or even three times a day, but constantly. When I say “constantly,” I mean every minute of every hour of every day that I am awake, I have a one minute moment of the most traumatic event of my life replaying in my head. Stop and think about what I just said. From the moment I open my eyes and all during everything I am engaged in doing throughout the day, that awful and sickening moment is happening. I say that it is happening because my body has the same response it did when the event actually occurred. This continuous loop, I have just recently discovered, is not the normal PTSD flashback.

The extreme number of PTSD flashbacks has definitely taken a toll on my mind and body. A human body is not made to withstand so much trauma day after day and if forced to do so, eventually the adverse affects take their toll.

I have been almost catatonic some days as I struggled to pay attention to the present while my mind replayed the past traumatic event. Insanity was so close and on many days, I felt that I could not live one more moment of the agony. Nothing would stop the continuous flashback of my child’s limp gray body, not breathing as her lips turned a darker blue with each passing second. Not only do I have this visual flashback, but I also can hear myself screaming in a voice that sounds so filled with pain that I can’t hardly stand listening. However, I have no choice but to see and hear the scene because the flashback is persistent and will not go away.

I think that even the most sane individual would find this type of existence hard to live.

It has been nearly impossible.

Only knowing that my daughter still needed me, kept me trying to hold onto sanity and life…barely. There is only so much that a mind and body can actually take before it freaks out completely. Some things are completely out of our control and when insanity takes over, nothing matters any more.


“One thing you can’t hide –
is when you’re crippled inside.”
~ John Lennon ~

It is not just depression, although I have been very depressed.

It is not just hopelessness, although I have been unable to see past my flashbacks.

It is not just physical exhaustion, although my body has been depleted as my heart raced all day long.

It is not just lack of memory, although fighting the scene in my flashbacks has made it nearly impossible to remember things that are currently happening to me.

It is not just disappointment with my former bosses, who could have helped me in many ways and instead chose to make my employment circumstances harder.

It is not just my former therapist, although he obviously was not that versed in helping someone with extreme PTSD.

The insanity has been a combination of all these things and more. Although killing myself would be quick, easy and completely end all my current hellish struggles, it would also be very final.

Too final.

When my daughter graduated from high school, the entire event jolted my mind and PTSD flashbacks that were happening every second of every minute of every day, started only happening three or four times a day. You would think that was a completely positive thing, but it was not. My body no longer has the huge rush of adrenaline throughout the day, so I dropped into an even worse depression. Because there started to be hours when I was flashback free, I realized how awful my circumstances have been. Extreme emotions filled my mind as my body felt the effects of having been revving in high gear for so very long.

I desperately tried to just “fake it,” but it eventually became completely impossible to have any semblance of a healthy facade. I have not been a fully functioning individual and desperately wanted my old self back.

At times I felt that I was going to die either from a heart attack or by my own hand. While in some of my darkest and most unclear moments, I became the most clear about depression, anxiety, regret, hopelessness, love, selfishness, death, life and suicide. At one of my weakest moments, I reached out one more time for help and was not rejected. I sobbed on the phone to a stranger for a very long time and then she gave me the phone number of someone else – someone that specializes in PTSD and recovery.

I am starting to feel something akin to hope which has been completely absent from my life for a long time. Visions of my own demise are not torturing me day and night any longer. The lack of continual flashbacks has allowed a silence like a warm blanket to wrap around me. The traumatic event with the terrible visual and agonized screaming plea to God for mercy, arrives in short-lived flashbacks that I understand and cope with more sanely.

Life is still hard and the healing is slow.

My body is weak.

My emotions are raw. No one will ever know the full extent of my hellish agony.

My mind is a bit foggy.

My soul has been pierced and will never be the same, but I am alive. More importantly, I want to be alive.

The Redhead Riter

This post was written by...

Sherry Riter is also known as The Redhead Riter. Sherry is witty, intelligent and addictive as she writes about cooking, family, marriage, failures, blogging tips, art, humor, inspiration, travel, PTSD and aging. Her goal is to inspire, motivate, educate and to make her audience laugh. Sherry embraces being a redhead and helps others to see the redhead point of view…"In some eras redheads were worshipped while others thought us witches. Personally, I like the former and think every day is 'Love a redhead day!'" She can also be found on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Linkedin, tweeting as @TheRedheadRiter and you can subscribe to her free blog feed.

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 By Word of Mouth Musings August 23, 2011 at 12:38 pm

The depth of your writing, the honesty and raw feeling that goes into your words has tears pouring down my cheeks today. Your writing is always a pleasure, your strength and love touches all that reads you … thank you, lovely one.
Virtual hugs and happy thoughts and yes, we should all be thankful to be alive, life can turn in an instant.

Enjoy each and every moment.


2 Stéfan August 23, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Thank you for sharing. Many of us have had to deal with difficult circumstances and it is important to hear how others have the courage to work through their own hardships. Again, thank you.


3 Anonymous August 23, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Thank you for sharing. Many of us have had to deal with difficult circumstances and it is important to hear how others have the courage to work through their own hardships. Again, thank you.


4 Linda Kish August 23, 2011 at 1:57 pm

I'm glad you are here. It's so good that you can write about how you feel. I am sure that is hard to do.


5 Mom of M&Ms August 23, 2011 at 5:23 pm

o bodl to share so much…and to know that death is not the answer… and I lift you up in prayer.. I struggle with the same issues but for different reasons..ort of getting used to the adrenaline rush all day long…


6 that's life! August 23, 2011 at 10:23 pm

Red, I promise you that you will be 'alive again'- very much alive.

I hope this doesn't come off as pretentious, but I feel I now know why I was moved to start my new series now, RIGHT NOW.

Am I allowed to paste the URL?


7 katlupe August 23, 2011 at 11:10 pm

I understand more than you know. My husband also suffers from PTSD. He was in an accident in which he thought he was going to die, going down a big hill on a road roller, very fast. It is a miracle he survived it, but just 14 months later, his daughter took her life and in his mind, they were like one and the same accident. Him going down the hill and her….. He had nightmares over and over. He changed. We did finally find someone he could talk to. She told me he would never be the same. He never was or is. But like you, he survives. I love you Redhead Riter, and do not ever feel like you are alone.


8 Joan August 23, 2011 at 11:47 pm

This post is going to help a lot of people, whether they, themselves, are depressed or know somebody who is going through depression.

Your courage to talk so honestly about a subject that many people tend to shy away from should be applauded. You are a courageous, beautiful and strong woman — and you are a sensational writer! You move people with your words, and you give hope to people who may have lost hope, by being so honest about what you are going through and sharing it with others who may be going through depression too.


9 Kristi August 24, 2011 at 12:21 am

You are a unique individual, a special person who is loved by many. Most importantly loved by our Creator who is probably the only One who can truly understand what you have been going through and He will give you strength to go through this. Lean on Him.

You also have many people in your Blog Frog Community who love you and will be there for you as much as we can be.

Thank you for sharing with us once again. I pray for your continued recovery and trust that the Lord will use you to help others who may be going through similar circumstances.



10 Steph August 24, 2011 at 3:29 am

I love that you share this so openly. For one of my classes, we had to interview someone with PTSD and it never ceases to amaze me how difficult it is and how easily misunderstood.

I, too, am very glad you are here. Your blog is fantastically written and inspiring and I'm glad to have found it. 🙂


11 The Aud Author, Audrey August 24, 2011 at 6:02 am

I wish you could be like me and just block that memory as much as possible. I do that with my chidhood and I do that with that horrible day with my niece. I try very hard not to see her in my mind's eye, lying in that hospital bed. I feel sick again. You have to stop writing these posts or I'm gonna have to read them hovered by the toilet. Next time you get that vision in your head…think about me and the ocean's of regret I feel and live with everyday that I can't bring myself to ever forgive myself for and know you are not alone in your misery. Or better yet, think of the H.E.L.L. I'm going through with my tin grin and maybe you will actually grin instead of be sad. 😉 I love you, Me


12 The Aud Author, Audrey August 24, 2011 at 6:07 am

Oh and I forgot to tell you…I'm a HUGE Real Houswives fan…I watch OC, NJ, NYC, & Beverly Hills, didn't get into Atlanta, Miami or DC. I cannot believe Russell killed himself…I can't imagine the depression and darkness that he must have felt to think that dying was his only way out. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. So incredibly sad. On a happier note…I get to meet Teresa Giudice in September at her book signing in Virginia Beach, she's my favorite NY Housewife. 🙂


13 mergie August 24, 2011 at 11:52 am

There is a 12 step free support group that hubby goes to. I sometimes go with him but just as a family support member. They are nationwide. They are fantastic. They are just support. It's called Emotions Anonymous. Very easy to find. You made a great decision. Keep Pushing on!


14 Teresa Wilkinson 1984 August 24, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Here I will try again to comment. For some odd reason I can not post from my phone onto blogs.

An acquaintance of mine I believe made another suicide attempt yesterday I can not confirm it his family has asked for privacy until he is able or decides to comment. Until then I have to sit on my suspicions and hope he recovers quickly.

I am a suicide survivor as you know. I have also been to that doorway several times in the short time you and I have known each other. The night we met on the bing site you welcomed me. You made me feel worthwhile at a time I felt I was not someone anyone would want to know. You gave me a ribbon of welcome I believe. I did not know who you were or anything about you but you talked to me and at that moment that was what I needed to pull me away from that doorway to suicide.

My mental illness is no secret. I do not hide it from anyone nor do I deny my illness. My husband knows how important you, your blog, and our group The Red Headed Riter Community is to me. How much I cherish your friendship and the feeling I belong somewhere.

Today is not a good day for me. I am sad and extremely emotional, but I am working through it and I am reaching out. I go through why me days and pity parties but they are getting easier because I realize that my vocal and written words regarding my illness may help someone understand the pain I feel and so many people like me feel. Maybe in my messed up gene pool or from my twisted messages and writings it will click with someone and maybe a cure or a magic potion will be spotted to solve the pain of others.

That right now the thought my illness and the loss of so many loved ones to mental illness and or addiction may be casualties in a war heading towards the final victory over such calamities. I am here for you just as you were here for me one night over a year ago and the many times since you have unconsciously pulled me up by my boot straps by just acknowledging something I said or wrote.


15 Anonymous August 24, 2011 at 7:47 pm

Red, complex PTSD had crippled may of my earlier years. Its hard to overcome. For myself I can share that the time to overcome was as agonizing as liberating. Obviously there is a scar which somtimes itches…for years I have a toolbox to take care of the itches and often I exchange the tools as the itches grew less and I am stronger.

I am grateful that you havent chosen to block all out. It delays healing, you feel, you care and you crave life. You have a life to live and love to give.
Much lvoe to you.
For time being I will sign anonymous.


16 ruthhill74 August 25, 2011 at 1:14 am

I absolutely appreciate how brutally honest you are. Thank you! I also love the fact that you are so human. You are in my prayers.


17 KathyMorelli August 25, 2011 at 12:17 pm

I feel for you. Your writing is so personal and your description of PTSD so accurate, so moving….what it is like to live with it… What I would like
to say is , please don;t keep living with this pain alone, please seek help….Complex trauma is very difficult to live with and treat….Some people respond to EMDR, this therapy may relieve your traumatic symptoms, and talk & expressive therapies relieve your body of the trauma….There s/b a local therapist who has this skill set in her/his repertoire…take a look on Psychology Today or the EMDR website for a practitioner.
Good luck to you, don;t keep suffering, look for help. God bless you, Kathy


18 Sage September 1, 2011 at 2:12 pm

As a fellow sufferer of PTSD, thank you for writing about it with such eloquence and clarity.

I can get caught in long lasting loops, but not ones that last all day – every day. My heart goes out to you and I hope you can always remember in your soul that you are not alone.

I'm a new fan, but I read the posts that you linked to through this one and I am so sorry for what you went through.



19 Susanne May 4, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Hi Ms. Riter. I am new to your blog, but I know there is a reason that I was guided here. I’ll thank (in)courage and divine intervention. I’m almost overwhelmed by the amount of information that I have been perusing for the past 2 hours in my attempt to get better acquainted with you. I tend to do that before I “sign up”. You are pretty darn incredible! Honest, insightful, scarred and attempting to hang in there on a daily basis, while maintaining, what to me is considered “balance”. Anyway, I should get to the point. Although I have had what some think may have been PTSD moments in my life, I don’t think I suffer from that particular condition. I believe that my diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder and Executive Motor Dysfunction suit me to a “T”. A little genetics, compounded by a little head injury and it equals the above mentioned. OK, so they aren’t that little…but who’s setting the parameters? lol. It’s so interesting because when I’m having what I refer to as a “grand mal” anxiety attack, so many of our symptoms are the same, although I don’t carry the extra burden of flashbacks. Unfortunately, there’s no cure for us, but I pray that we all find the strength and wisdom to do whatever it takes for us to cope and manage our symptoms and worlds as best as we can. I look forward to reading your riting, redhead. Take good care!


20 The Redhead Riter May 8, 2012 at 1:04 am

Thank you Susanne for telling me all about you too and for all your kind words.

“I pray that we all find the strength and wisdom to do whatever it takes for us to cope and manage our symptoms and worlds as best as we can.” YES, YES and YES! 🙂

I look forward to getting to know you better!


21 Sarah @ First Night Design May 1, 2013 at 1:37 pm

I have spent the last hour in tears reading your posts and empathising and recognising the emotions. Therapeutic tears, mind you. My husband has severe PTSD from an event in 1997 but while there has been much more publicity about the condition in recent years, too many in the world think of it as just extreme depression. Reading your wise and eloquent words have actually made me truly admit for the first time that my symptoms constitute PTSD, albeit at a lower level than my husband. Before the events that precipitated the PTSD, we had both suffered from many adverse life-changing events (me in particular) but we’d ‘coped’. I could go on and on! My heart goes out to you. I know that I will be coming back again and again. I am now following you on Facebook and Twitter. Take care. Sarah


22 Sherry Riter May 1, 2013 at 5:43 pm


I’m so sorry that you both have PTSD, but I PROMISE you, there is a way out of the Hell. It takes lots and lots of work, but it is possible. I’m living proof! I will follow you back everywhere. Thank you for following me and reading my posts today. I’m only as far as a comment or an email, so please reach out to me if you need my help. {{{hugssss}}} for you and your hubby.


23 Irene May 10, 2013 at 11:33 am

Thank you so much for sharing. My teen age son has PTSD With severe and almost constant flashbacks and hallusinations, and Reading Your post helps me to better understand and what he is going through. I send you all my well wishes and hope the slow road to recovery continues to lay before you open and available, one step at a time. Hugs and love, Irene


24 Sherry Riter May 12, 2013 at 9:03 am

I’m so sorry that your son is suffering, Irene. I had constant flashbacks and no one could make them go away, so I suffered for a year and half almost to insanity. It has been a long four years to recovery, but the end of the rainbow is now in sight. I am SO MUCH better that I want to shout it from the rooftops. I’m so glad I have worked hard to get rid of my PTSD even though I didn’t think all the work would make a difference. {{{{hugsss}}}}


25 Irene May 10, 2013 at 11:35 am

… and it was totally random that I found your blog. I was just sitting here in my living room in Norway looking for info on Leonardo da Vinci 🙂


26 Sherry Riter May 12, 2013 at 9:04 am

The other day my mother said almost the same thing, but she was looking for something else. She said, “Almost every time I Google something, your blog pops up with one of your posts! Are you everywhere?” All I could do was laugh, but I’m glad she finds me all the time (wink) and so glad you did too!


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