The Road To Suicide – A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing

by Sherry Riter in Health,PTSD,Suicide

I was minding my own business on this lonely back road between Richmond and Williamsburg at the beginning of the summer.

The radio was off.

The air conditioner was on.

I donned a pair of sunglasses and felt very worn out from fighting my PTSD symptoms while trying to hold the rest of my life together and still look somewhat normal.

Looking back now I realize that I did not appear “normal” to anyone. My brain was a fog of thoughts and memories flying around my head in a jumbled mess. My eyes looked sad, hollow and often had the “deer in the headlights” appearance. Don’t even get me started on how black the circles under my eyes had become since I only slept two hours a night.



I was not normal one bit.

Because my brain was in so much chaos, I had to drive very slowly and minimize all distractions. That is why I chose to drive on roads that were less traveled and kept the radio off.

A ninety minute drive took me almost three hours.

This trip was pivotal in my downward spiral. I desperately wanted to have my old self back. I tried to remember the past year, but couldn’t even recall the activities from the previous day.

It depressed and angered me. I felt that the only thing I ever had going for me, my intelligent brain, had failed me. I cried the whole trip. Fear that I would never be “normal” again gripped my soul. Everything was set and ready for Alyssa to graduate from high school and I was still falling apart. It just didn’t make sense anymore.

So there I was on a lonely road, crying, taking pictures, having flashbacks every minute, depressed, angry, alone and desperately trying to find a way to put my mind back together to end the pain, when a thought invaded my brain.

It was a simple thought.

Three words which offered a solid solution to ending the PTSD nightmare.

In a soft, but strong voice, my mind said…Just kill yourself.

I wasn’t shocked at the preposterous suggestion that my brain offered as the answer to my problems. It had fleetingly visited before with a few friends. There was the voice that said, “Take drugs! You’ve never done it before, but it will help!” and the other voice that said, “Drink lots of alcohol! You’ve never done it before, but it will help!” I found them to be equally stupid ideas and had promptly kicked them to the curb.

This time it was different. Instead of shooing the suicide thought away, I gave it room to take hold of the pain for a moment.

Yes, it worked!

When I entertained the idea of ending my life, there was a brief moment of relief from the pain! I had a semblance of control again. There was an action that I could do that would end my painful situation. Was it happiness and hope that suddenly shot through my body?

Surely not!

As I looked out of the side window, the trees flew by in a blur, but the flashback between me and the forest was crystal clear and ever so painful. The painful memories of that horrible day were always right before my eyes – torturing me.

I kept hearing the taunting whisper, “Just kill yourself.”

Everything I ever believed in was completely against the ridiculous idea, but it was the only thought that had stopped the pain in over a year. Yes, it was only a minute of relief, but a minute of painlessness let me breathe. So rather than force the thought to go away and dare it to ever return, I directed it to a comfy chair and asked it to please stay.

The horrific idea and I became friends. No one else understood my agony like the suicide idea. Some people pretended that my pain didn’t exist, while others demanded that I get over “it” like the process was as easy as opening a door and walking through the opening that led to the other side.

I had reached out.

I had shared my story.

I had shared my pain.

I said I needed help with doing “normal” things like laundry and meals. I needed to stop trying to hold it all together – work, being a mother, being a housekeeper, being a daughter.

I needed someone to step in and take control, but there wasn’t anyone that was capable of doing that for me. No one had the skills to help the “caregiver” in the family – the strong person who had been there to help everyone else climb over their hurdles over the years. No, I was very much alone and no one could grasp that I desperately needed help.

Well, almost alone. I did have the horrific suicide idea as my friend and it never left me and talked to me all the time. It even made my flashbacks pause for a few minutes if I let it monopolize my thoughts. It understood the nightmarish existence that had become my life and it promised a solution. A very permanent solution that would end my pain forever.

I listened to my demented friend too often, but I do not condemn myself nor do I make any apologies. It is truly a tragic existence when the only thing that can bring a person relief, comfort and a moment of peace, is the idea of ending one’s life.

Yes…totally tragic.

Obviously, I finished my long trip back from Williamsburg that bright and sunny day. I also survived the following months because I am able to write about it now.

What I want you to remember and incorporate into your mind forever is that no one, and I mean absolutely no one, is exempt from difficulties in life. If you think, “Oh, nothing like this will ever happen to me,” you just opened yourself up to a huge vulnerability called denial. When a tragedy happens and someone you love and care for is desperately struggling with PTSD and tells you, “I feel like killing myself,” you need to believe them.

On the other hand, if you are the person who has let the horrific suicide idea rent a room in your brain, run for help. Don’t walk to someone that can help you. RUN as fast as you can to obtain help from a trained professional. Don’t let the horrific idea linger in your mind because it is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and it will take you down the road from which there is no return.


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.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anonymous September 21, 2011 at 12:17 pm

You are so correct Readhead Riter – you must reach out when you experience thoughts of hurting yourself. And the smug people who think it could never happen to them are in denial.

And if you are someone trying to help a person with such thoughts, never say "snap out of it." If that is your way to help, then say nothing until you educate yourself. PTSD and depression are not vanquished by simply wishing it away. You look like a fool and you reveal your ignorance when you say "snap out of it".


2 KimD September 21, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Been there. Thanks for sharing!


3 bradssafeandlock September 21, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Hello Redhead! I often wonder what kind of dissorders I have. I have not been to professionals. I think it's because I wouldn't tell them the truth and try to make myself look good. That would be a waist of time.
In this last year of my new chapter in life, I have had many days with the thoughts of suicide running through my mind. Ending my life would solve everything. Especially the pain.
What helps me is a conscious contact with God. Meditation and listening to God.
Good o'l me had never listend to God before. I guess it's because of the "I". I needed to do and be the best person I could be. When all along it was God guiding me. I just chose to not recognise God working in my life. Now I search for his guidance every moment I can. When I am not searching, I notice he is still working. God does not want me to end my life. Right now he doesn't anyways. That's the releif I found from the pain and thoughts of suicide. I am getting worse, I am getting older, I am feeiing more and more pain each day.
The thoughts of suicide have gone. The thoughts of God have replaced those. So I go on. Each day struggleing, physically full of pain. Emotionally knowing that my life will never be like it was when I was even a year younger, let alone when I was 20 or 30. Each morning I wake I wonder what challanges I am going to have today. Anything new not working with my body today? Anything working less then what it used to? I have to remember to thank him and realize I am on the right side of the grass today. For what I don't know. Then I finish getting up and ready. It takes me a couple of hours. When a year ago I would be up and ready for the day in 20 minutes. By the time I am up and ready I am thinking of the people I will come across. The people I will pass while driving. The people I will speak to in person. The people whose lives I will have the opportunity to touch. Then I think who and how will I help someone. How can I help the next person I meet. With Gods help I know we will do our best.
Thanks for sharing your experience
Redhead. You are one of the people I listen to because God speaks through you also. That's what I hear anyways. :o)


4 kathyj333 September 21, 2011 at 2:44 pm

When my husband died suddenly in 2005, it took me years to get to a place where I didn't cry all the time. In fact, it's only been recently that I can make it through a day without crying. For a long time, I felt like I was in one of those commercials where someone is standing still while people, animals, and life swirl past. I, too, felt like there was no point to living. And some days, i still wonder why I'm still here.

Anyway, I'm still here, too. Thanks for this post. Sharing your story really does help others.


5 Joan September 21, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Redhead Riter, in the very near future this post will become a chapter in a book. A book that you will write about your PTSD and your suicidal thoughts about ending your own life.

That book which you will write, will end of saving many lives, because it will become a life raft for many people to cling to who are going through what you have experienced. They will realize that they are not alone. That many people go through dark periods in their life.

By you living and surviving, you give other people hope that they can survive too. That they do not have to do something so permanent as to end their life.


6 PJ September 22, 2011 at 2:54 am

Hey Red! I'm so glad that you did not heed the voice in your head. You have been put on this earth for a reason. Maybe God is the only one who knows what it is at this point, but I truly believe that a person will live until God's purpose for them has been fulfilled. Obviously, you are still working on it. I hope you will be working on it for a very long time. God bless you friend!



7 Teresa Wilkinson 1984 September 25, 2011 at 12:28 am

Red, wow! I know the places you have been so well. You know that. I have been so public about my own struggle with this voice you speak of. I have in the past two years had Don to hold my hand as I battle the scene's and the visions and the voice that says just end it. I wish for you all the best with this. If I can help let me know.


8 Rachel September 25, 2011 at 11:11 pm

Thank you so much for posting this! I have never felt like someone understood as much as I did while reading this post. I suffer from depression, ptsd and schizophrenia. I spent my teens and twenties trying to find a way to commit a quiet suicide. I am different now but that voice is still there sometimes in the dark. It is nice to know someone else has heard it too…


9 Danielle September 27, 2011 at 6:37 am

Wow. I can't imagine the terror you went through when this happened. I have an only child as well, and I don't think I could survive the loss. Praise God your girl is better! And I pray for your continued healing.

Major medical crises really shatter the illusion that we are in control–that everyone will live until old age and die of natural causes. And those illusions are comforting.

It seems to me that PTSD happens, in part, when we can't rely on these illusions anymore. And maybe part of overcoming PTSD is that we have to get okay with uncertainly, with ambiguity, with the unknown possibilities. And that's terrifying.

We like our illusions.

I'd love to read more about your take on prescription medication. I believe your experience can open the eyes of other mothers–and hopefully, prevent this from happening to someone else.

I pray for peace and comfort and renewed joy in your life.


10 Andjelija October 16, 2011 at 2:53 am

Thank you so much for sharing your story. It's a very brave thing to do and will help more people than you can probably ever imagine.

Before people judge they need to educate themselves and try to understand instead of saying 'get over it already'. They need to be there for them, listen, be respectful of their feelings, be positive, loving, and most of all patient. Just sayin' 🙂


11 Debbie Ryals July 15, 2012 at 6:08 am

Your blog has really touched me and hit home with me. I feel like you are writing my story. I am a survivor of years of childhood abuse that I never got treatment for. Last summer I had a nervous breakdown and came so close to taking my life. I came to my senses and called 911. I spent a week in the hospital. I was diagnosed with severe depression, severe ptsd and panic disorders. On top of this I have a long list of health problems. I am now on medications which do seem to help. I have not went for counseling because my family does not back me on it. They think because the abuse occurred over 30 years ago that i should get over it. Funny thing is, that the problem did not start until after working for 10 years 60 hours a week. At this time, my health deteriorated and the depression began. I could no longer block the memories. Thank you for sharing this….


12 The Redhead Riter July 15, 2012 at 10:28 am


I’m so sorry that you have suffered. Thirty years is a long time to have something awful bottled up inside of you. Whether your family supports you or not, you are no longer a child, so go get therapy. Without therapy you can’t heal the pain that lives in your soul. There are some things that we just can’t heal all by ourselves. I believe that people who are good chefs, carpenters, writers, dentists AND therapists offer services that are valuable and can benefit our lives if we take the opportunity to use them. You don’t need anyone’s permission to go to a therapist to make yourself whole again. I hope that you seek the help you need. I appreciate you sharing your story with us. {{{hugssss}}}


13 Jenny Elaine January 14, 2013 at 5:42 am

The thought of not wanting to live has been my constant companion since I was a kid…but actually wanting to do the deed didn’t come up til about 13 yrs ago….and yes, it does provide a peace of sorts. But as another comment said, the thing to do is to replace God with that thought and let Him take control….

Blessings Red…


14 Sherry Riter January 14, 2013 at 6:45 am

Thank you Jenny. That was such a dark time… *sigh*


15 Joan Penfold February 28, 2013 at 11:20 pm

I am sitting here reading your post you wrote so long ago and I am not sure what guided me here tonight. It is definitely God at work as I am fighting these demons and I know I have PTSD along with depression and feeling totally helpless with what life has thrown at me recently, between my own health and the decline of my husbands health, which has led him to dementia and physical abuse. I am facing major surgeries this year due to my lupus, from stomach surgery next month to brain biopsies sometime after. I am being contacted be a man that raped me and went to prison all of sudden, he found my married name online. I am so so tired. I am in tears….but your story has helped be for tonight at least. I think I might bookmark this. Thanks for sharing.


16 Sherry Riter March 1, 2013 at 7:54 am

I am so sorry Joan. {{{BIG hugssss}}}

Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help. Seek a qualified therapist because I know they can help you get through all the unhappiness. I’m living proof! You know I’m living proof! Hang in there. Whatever you do, don’t resort to suicide. It is an ending that won’t bring you peace. I’m only an email and phone call away. Reach out if you need me.


17 Ned Christiansen December 22, 2014 at 9:42 pm

Dear Sherry, Im glad I happened on your site. Im a Marine combat vet that fought in the Gulf and then in Somalia in `93. My story is so long and starts from my childhood. Parents werent around much. I was the youngest of 4boys and I was the target of some pretty severe abuse at the hands of my oldest brother. I was always a protector and even at 9 or so if I heard my loldest brother yelling at one of my other brothers my stomach was sick. I knew I was in for a pretty good beating. When the argument would turn physical I always made sure I got there quickly with something and I would nail him in the back with a big stick or pipe wrench. He is 4 years older by the way and growing up he was noone to mess with. He was known to beat 2-3 seniors up at a time when he was a freshman. So then he would turn his rage on me and I would stand there so the other 2 could get away. He would use an open hand but hit me with enough force to to face to take me right of my feet. Then he would bend down and scream ” GET UP!!!” so Id get up not wanting the alternative. As soon as I got up I was coming off the ground again. This would last until he got his rage out. Id say on average 10-15 times. After a few times I refused to let him see me cry. My other 2 brothers always just stood there and watched. Every time I swore I wouldnt help them ever again but I just couldt watch them get beat up. When I was in 6th grade, I had a friend over and we were messing around. Again, no parents. I fell backwards about 6 feet down on the back of my head and the rest of me folded right over it. I woke up and didnt know my brother or friend
, where I was, what happened. I just knew my neck and ribs hurt with an intense pain I had never felt before. After a little while I started recognizing things again. My brother said I was out for at least 3 minutes and went about his business. I never mentioned it to my parents because I didnt suppose it would matter. I lived on a horse farm so I bailed hay and did chores and got my regular beatings. I got xrays a couple years ago and found out that the fall fractured one of my cervical vertebrae. I cant remember which one though. One time I wouldnt do dishes for my oldest brother and that was the most severe beating he ever gave me and it was the tail end of his reign of terror. He broke a tooth, both my eyes were almost completely full of ruptured blood vessels, I had chunks of flesh torn out of the inside of my mouth, my nose was gushing blood, I had bruises all over my neck and a trail of blood from the kitchen to the bathroom but I refused to cry. My dad came home and saw me and asked What happened to you ?? I replied, I wouldnt do dishes for your son. His response floored me. He said, Next time call the cops. I said, thanks dad. Do you think we can at least fix my tooth? Im sorry, Sherry. Im rambling. I probably shouldnt do this. Thats just a piece of it. My dad lived in bars. I remember waking up in the middle of the night freezing because the furnace ran out of fuel. I would have to take a couple gas cans and go get some deisel and pour it in the tank. Go in the house, bleed and start the furnace. I was 14 or 15. I became indepedant at a young age. I was going to beer parties in 8 th grade. My family was very popular in high school which allowed me to do all of this at such a young age. Even though my family could be horrible to me, they were mine and I loved them. It was also known if you mess with one Christiansen, you mess with them all. I was going to bars since I was about 14. I was smoking in the house at 14. I lived alone in the family home most of my junior year and my senior year of high school. About a year ago I talked to my parents about it. They both denied knowing. I believe my mom. I can tell she suffers when she thinks about our childhood. I escaped an attempted molestation by a priest as a early teenager. My dad sent me up north with him to help him fix his roof. Looking back, what the hell good was I going to do him. We got to his cabin and he gave me beer right away. Im not going to get into the rest but by the Grace of God I had red flags popping up everywhere and even though I was a kid that just kept his mouth shut I found the strenghth to demand that he take me home and if he didnt Im sure he knew my brothers and cousins ( everyone did) he took me home. I have forgiven him and I pray for his soul. I still love the Catholic Church. A man did this, not the Catholic Curch. Still so much more just picture you falling asleep. Im kidding. Ive never actually sat and took the time to write this all down. Its pretty painful and like I said, Ive barely scratched the surface. Im not sure Im comfortable going public with anymore than the little more than Im going to say. Fast forward to present. Ive been very proactive in my treatment for severe PTSD. I have multiple nightmares every night. Two weeks ago is the first time that I know of that I actually walked in my sleep during a nightmare. My squad was pinned down in an ambush in Somalia. I was leading them out. I was folding clothes that night and decided to put them away in the morning. As I was leading my squad I tripped and felt a sharp pain above my left eye. I covered my eye I started to take my hand off and realized I was bleeding. I put pressure back on and went to the bathroom to look. I had a pretty nice laceration above my right eyebrow that required 5 sutures. I ended up tripping over a stack of clothes and fell into my coffee table. I attemted suicide on July 6, 2012. I put my Beretta 9mm against my heart and sqeezed the trigger with my left thumb and I had tears pouring down my cheeks because I love my God so much and Im so in love with my kids but Id been in agony for months. I was barely eating, maybe every 4-5 days. Barely sleeping and images kept haunting me. As I sat there waiting for the impact I was scared and then I hear a click. Misfire. I was terrified and never so happy to be alive. I had a life changing event happen immediately following but I will just say God saved my life. My dad and all of my brothers wrote me off. My dad said absolutely horrible things to me including I didnt see anything in combat so stop milking the government and get to work. The truth is, when you take a life, youre never the same. I forgive my family and love them very much. My mom and stepdad are amazing and God is my protector but life continues to be a struggle. I just have to focus on the blessings in my life. I was a psychiatric nurse and I was a good one. I really loved the patients . Im hoping Im able to practice again in the not too distant future. I have such an appreciation for life and everyone being treated with respect and dignity. I have a heart full of love and I just want help people. Im sorry I talked so much but thank you so much for doing what you do. What a gift you are. 🙂


18 Ned Christiansen December 31, 2014 at 9:29 pm

Dear Sherry, I posted a comment on the 22nd of this month. I am generally pretty private about my history but when I came across your site, I thought your insight may be helpful. Its unfortunate that the time I decide to just open up, I dont get a response.


19 Sherry Riter March 5, 2017 at 1:20 pm

Ned, I’m sorry that I didn’t respond. Life got in the way and I have been through many things over the past few years. I’m not in a better place and I hope you are too.


20 Ken Sellards January 31, 2015 at 1:22 pm

?Hugs? I’m so very glad that you are still with us Sherry! <3


21 Sherry Riter February 6, 2015 at 6:06 am

Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee too Kenny! It sure was a dark lonely journey healing from PTSD.


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