Just a Setback

By Douglas Monda, Founder and President of Survive First

I’ve never written a blog post before.  This is a first for me, but the thought of writing this hit me at one of my most favorite times of the day; the time of day that helped turn my life around…Cigar time. Lately, I’ve been reliving a time where pain and suffering brought me to a point where a bullet in my head was the only way I was going to escape pain.  It’s been difficult to relive that time.  

To give you a little history outside my law enforcement career, I spent about 20 years competing in triathlon. Life consisted of training for Ironman triathlons, family, and work. Triathlon and surfing were the things that helped me to unwind from the job.  In the three years between 2009 and 2012, I sustained several injuries that put me out of those two things I loved most.  One, a life changing back injury which brought me to a point I care not to relive.  In this short time, I had two knee surgeries, major back surgery requiring three fusions, and two shoulder surgeries. I watched my life as I knew it end right in front me. All the things I loved passionately were now gone. Taken from me in the blink of an eye. My “new life” consisted of laying on a couch and not moving.  It was The Orpah Winfrey show for me.  I got to the point where I couldn’t stand her and all her happy guests.



During this time, I had no support from my work place, my friends, or my then girlfriend.  THE ONLY THING keeping me alive was my adopted son Cameron.  I was blessed to raise him his first 3.5 years.  Unfortunately depression and the effects of PTSD won, radically changing my behavior, pushing me to attempt to take my own life.  Cameron was eventually taken from me and haven’t seen him since.  I didn’t know it at the time, but I would soon learn that support is one of the most important aspects of recovery.

Subsequently in January of 2014, I entered inpatient treatment for help with my depression and PTSD.  In those six weeks I realized many things.  I did have support.  I just needed to be open to receiving it.  My children loved me.  The woman I met just before entering treatment had actually fallen in love with me and I had fallen in love with her.  And on top of that, my co-workers were rallying for me, and everyone was waiting for me to come home.  It took some time (and a few mistakes which I have learned from since), but with proper aftercare and the love and support from my family and friends, I realized things were going to be ok, even if life gave me the greatest challenges to overcome again.

So hear we are today.  I have sat here, or I should say have laid horizontal on my sofa again for the last 3 weeks or more.  I have reinjured both my back and my shoulder.  My shoulder has a complete tear in the rotator cuff, and surgery is scheduled three weeks from today.  My back is at a point where I am losing the feeling in my leg. For now, we are trying spinal epidurals, but there is a possibility I will have to have another fusion.  It hit me like a ton of bricks today…”crap, I am freaking here all over again”.  I’ve been pissed.  I even realized I started to fall into that abyss and think about all the things I shouldn’t.  But no.  I have the tools now and it’s just time again to rebuild.


There is a warrior spirit in all of us, and I’ve dug deep to pull it to my surface.  I’ve realized how amazing my life really is.  I have wife who loves me with all her heart soul. She has been there since I went kicking and screaming to treatment and hasn’t flinched since.  She says I’m her rock.  Actually, she is mine.  I have friends who are there when I need them. I have the tools I learned to survive…fight, look for the positives, be happy for what I have. This is a setback, not my destiny. I will rehab and come back stronger. I will continue to live life the way I want to. Maybe a little slower and a little older, but I’m ok with that.

The moral of the story is that we all have setbacks, we have all had and will have tough times, but we must fight through it. Dig deep. Reawaken your inner warrior.  Its not going to come easy but it’s there to grab. Reach out to someone if you are struggling.  For those of us who are not going through a rough patch, do your part and reach out to a friend who may seem a little out of sorts.  Make sure they are ok and be there for them. If you need help just reach out and ask.  Its that simple and it will change your life. Life IS good!  #LIVEHAPPY