🎶 Podcast Intro: Welcome to the pursuing uncomfortable podcast, where we give you the encouragement you need to lean into the uncomfortable stuff life puts in front of you, so you can love your life. If you are ready to overcome all the yuck that keeps you up at night, you're in the right place. I am your host, Melissa Ebken let's get going. 🎶
🎶 Episode Intro: Hi friends. I invite you to this episode, this bonus episode of Johnny McCoy's story. And I do want to let you know that this is not an easy story to hear. In fact, it's quite a difficult story and it's going to evoke a lot of reactions within you. So please ensure that you are in an appropriate space to listen to this episode, and be aware of who around you might also be listening. 🎶
So, before I was born in the 1950s, my father lived in a rural area of South Carolina, you think I'm country my father was, he's very country. And he was he worked on peach farms, tobacco farms, corn, and the corn mill, in a little teeny town called McBee, South Carolina, less than 800 people, 30 people in his graduating class. And back in those days, the houses were very, very far apart. A lot of people grew grass, and wheat, all the other stuff on our land. And my parents didn't have my grandma, my father didn't have a very wealthy upbringing. His dad was a mail carrier, very respected person, but you know, and so my father, he was used to this kind of country style life and it entails, and that is, you know, houses that are way out in the middle of nowhere. And one of those houses was my great grandfather's house. And my great grandfather, my father, my great grandfather, he, he got a divorce from his first wife moved from where he was in a big city back into his little teeny farmhouse in the middle of nowhere in McBee, and my dad, who was who would have been his by my dad, who was his grandchild, used to visit this man and his brothers. The man's, brothers would would, as well, my father's, you know, uncles and whatnot. And the reason they would visit him is because they called him very sad, he was heartbroken. And so they would take turns staying with him, and then live and spend the night and then they would pass off to the next guy. And it was my dad's night. And he got dropped off. In front of that long, long road dirt road, he walks all the way down and finally gets to the house, and there's no electricity, and there's no phones, but there's always candles and fires burning. And there wasn't any that day and it was almost dark out. So my dad, you know, he was like, where he's at. We know he didn't go anywhere. So he started to look around the house. And you know, he sees that there's a, there's no fire burning. And he went to the room where he was to stay with my great grandfather and laying in the bed, fully dressed with a note in his left hand and a gun in his right hand. He had, he had put it, put it in his mouth and taken his own life. And my dad was 12 years old. And he didn't know what to do. He didn't know where to go, or, you know, there's nowhere to call or so my dad, he didn't know if he was going to wake up didn't know if a ghost was going to pop out. Didn't know. And so he laid at the sort of at the foot of the bed, Sat Sat right outside the door and kept going back in between the room for 12 hours. And the thoughts of why would he do this, he had to have known I was coming over, he knew I was coming. Is the note for me, should I open the note? What will happen if I look in the note. So my dad leaves the house the next morning, and you can imagine the sun coming up and him strolling out onto the dirt road and he walks you know, however far he had to walk to the bus stop and get on the bus, goes to school, goes through school, goes all the way through football practice comes home, tells my sweet little grandmother, what happened. And she looks at him and says whatever you do, don't tell anybody, especially your father. And that was the last time my dad spoke of it. And, you know, at the funeral, they'd never discussed it. And you know, it was just a death. You know, and that's the way that it was told. And years later, my father without ever healing without ever talking about it without ever discussing he marries my mother and my mom comes from a very mentally ill background as well. Alcoholic father and mother. Abuse throughout the home. My mom struggled. She still struggles to talk about it. Seven brothers and sisters. She was one of the youngest and after her dad died at a very young age, she helped raise some of her younger siblings. And her her and my father met and my dad, you know, he had the collared shirts on and you know, he's an executive and you can the 70s wife was, you know, this was this was my mom and dad, including the abuse and beatings, especially the abuse and beatings. And, you know, she had nothing and nobody go call or go to and I don't have you know, we would never close with any aunts, uncles, cousins or grandparents. I don't have any of their phone numbers, not one of them.
Melissa Ebken 25:00
And in those days, she would not have had any or very little support, right couldn't have opened a checking account to support herself. She couldn't have rented an apartment, or anything else, those things just simply didn't exist.
Jonny McCoy 25:14
As soon as the boys were born, it was over, because I think in the beginning, it was sort of like, okay, she could still, you know, leave and get a new man. But the reality of the situation is, once the boys were there, the anchor was there, because she knew, you know, it's the 70s-80s vibe, it's, I will never leave my husband and I want to stay together for the children, which is the worst, you know, I mean, from my standpoint, and my wife's standpoint, you know, staying together for the children almost cost both of us our lives. And so, you know, I used to, I used to come down and on the staircase, and I always wanted to know. I always wanted to hear the abuse. I always wanted to hear her call her a, worthless, and then B word or the P word or the C word. I needed to know what she was going through, I was the middle child and I was her protector, I thought. But when really what I was doing is I was triggering myself over and over again, because we didn't know it, we call it a nervous stomach. But I was born with generalized anxiety disorder, I started having panic attacks when I was five and six years old. So imagine a five or six year old, right that they just called nervous, the, you know, the nervous one. Now I was an athlete, so I didn't get picked on you know, for like being scared in the corner. But when your father tells you at night, you're gonna burn in the lake of fire, you believe that when you have anxiety, and you're six, and when he tells you that, you know, his sins are your sins, that you, you become so scared of life in reality, that the only people you listen to are these toxic individuals, this guy, you know, like this, this is the only guy I think that can can, who can, you know, beat the demons away that are coming for me, and that are already here. And by the time I had reached 10 years old, you know, the abuse had gotten so bad that my father had thrown a butcher knife at my mother and it went right in front of her and landed right over the stove. So that was his spot he would throw from the we had a table here and he would throw it stuff at her. And I remember one time there was a police officer came to our house, small town. This was in Orlando, Florida, and I pointed it out, I swear my father threw a knife and I remember in my mom, you know, she she would tell the story. We all laughed. They all laughed, I guess I mean, you know, kids are I was like this, this whole was my dad threw a butcher I mean this big butcher knife. So it was that same setup. That changed my life forever. The dad here at the table throwing and stuff at mom here and cooking. And, you know, as as it happened, I thought it was no big deal. And then as I started to grow and become an 18 year old, in the south, it still was no big deal, what I had gone through. And then eventually I learned that what I went through was horrific. Because I was I am allowed to say that even though my dad, my brother, and my mom well, not my mom, but my dad and my brother, you know, initially, he just hit her in the he just hit her with a bottle. He just hit her with a bottle. So mom on this fateful day. I mean, that's kind of you know what I heard. I was 10 years old. And the three boys were all athletes. We all played sports. And that was our big thing. We had baseball, football, basketball, year round. This was baseball season. And my father was like the father of Varsity blues. Most controlling fathers in the south, they control you over your athletics its that that's their way to relive things. It's very, very true. I know I'm not in that age group. But I grew up in a house where if you did not have a good game, you were shamed, and you were threatened and you're going to eat that night. So and that's just the way it was. And I don't even consider that to be abuse. Compared to the other stuff that on this day. I had been given permission to miss baseball practice by my mother because my friend, it was some sort of day where he was at another school. And this was our only day that we're gonna get to spend together. So my mom gave me okay to miss baseball practice and we went, we used to get like $1 or $2. We'd go buy a Snickers bar, at a little convenience store on the dirt road and come back. So we're coming back down the dirt road in Orlando, Florida. Its Pine Street. Pine Street was the name of the street and there's pine trees. Oh, it's beautiful. And I remember how thick the dirt was or the sand was the dirt road sand and I'm pushing my bike through it. My buddy and I are kind of talking, got our little bags. You're just kids and I to turned the corner to go down our road. There's only like less than a dozen houses on our road. My house was there, the second one on the left. And, you know, that was the first time I've ever seen anybody being arrested. And they were placing my father in the back of a police car. You know, in between us and the house, he already he had already been escorted out. And he looked, he looked at me and my best friend. My father was in handcuffs, without shoes on. And the only thing that he could muster to say to me was make sure your mother calls my attorney. That was first time I've ever heard that word too, you know, attorney. And,
Melissa Ebken 30:41
and how old were you again?
Jonny McCoy 30:42
I was, I was 10. Yes, ma'am. And so at that point, you know, you it doesn't register what's going on. So I was just worried that my friend was gonna have to go home, you know, like, I'm like, what, you know, I didn't understand what was going on until I got inside. And my mom had a huge, you know, she had stuff all over her, her eyes, she had an ice pack. And you know, this bandages, and there was police officers and ambulance were EMTs in the house. And they're chasing her around, and she's just screaming, like, do not take him to jail. Whatever you do, please don't take him to jail. And I just remember them saying, "he has to go to jail," and her take an ice pack and slam it on the ground and cussing. And that was when I saw her eye and her nose and I was just like, I just remember thinking, Well, if he's gone, and she's shook up like this. Who's got me?
Melissa Ebken 31:39
Jonny McCoy 31:41
And you know, it was tough. A girl who the same girl told me to paint myself black. When I started hanging out with kids on my football team who were African American. She brought a newspaper cut out of the arrest, to school, I was in seventh grade or sixth grade and handed it out. I just remember like, the news cameras got involved, because my dad was involved in some other stuff. And because he was president of the Little League, it was very public. And we had to move. Of course, when we moved states, I was 12 years old. We moved, you know, from everything we knew and loved and felt comfortable with into a little teeny bedroom. We're all on top of each other. We're all mentally ill, all of us are mentally ill to this day.
Melissa Ebken 32:37
And every fragile foundation you clung to had been taken.
Jonny McCoy 32:42
Right. And then and then it gets worse, because once we moved, my mom saw the toll that it had on my older brother, my younger brother, because they had social issues. And I didn't. So I met the quarterback on the first day, shout out to Robbie and Robbie introduced me to all these friends. And I'm so grateful for that. But that didn't happen for my brothers. And it didn't happen for my mom, because she started drinking. And once she started drinking, and started using medication, Xanax pills, otherwise, I had lost my only ally, for sure. And as I fought to bring her back, I did the only thing that I knew that I could do, which was show my dad who now had been through all this, you know, court ordered anger management to where he knows now I can't hit these people anymore. But the verbal abuse is just onslaught. Still, worthless is the word I can't, I can't if you if somebody calls somebody worthless in front of me. It's a big issue. It's a big problem. And that's what I just can't imagine calling somebody you love worthless. It's the worst thing that you because if they believe it, you know. So my mom starts drinking white wine, which she believes heavily she always drank it because I remember in Florida before the move can I get a little glass of ice with my Chablis, I used to always make Mom can I get a glass of ice with my Chablis. So by the time we got to Myrtle Beach after the move, you know, she was drinking over a gallon of Chablis a day. And, you know, again, battered housewife at home. And it progressively got worse. And my older brother was my older brother's got a lot going on with himself. So let's just say that he was apathetic to the situation. Then he goes off to college. So now it's me, I got this, this guy, this dad figure here, you know, as far as like love and protection and all that good stuff. You know that just like he wasn't somebody who would step in and say, Hey, I know that your mom is, you know, dying in front of your eyes, but I'm here for you. That never occurred. And, you know, it got to the point where I would say dad, she's drinking. Dad, she's drunk. And then my mom would say, Oh, well, he called me a b-i-t-c-h. My dad returned to me come at me because that's all he cared about. It's all I need. And I'm 15 years old. I'm not calling this woman cuss words. I'm trying to bring the attention. So eventually, I went into the garbage and I started pulling out and I said Dad, how longs the garbage been? He said oh it goes out tomorrow I go full week. Yeah, fulll week. So I pulled them out. One bottle, two bottle, three bottle, and I went to all her hiding spots, her trunk, the washing machine, everywhere and I pulled out 11 bottles of Chabis wine ,Ch, Chablis wine that had been drank the gallon, you know, the, with a little handle in seven days. And and we finally sent her off to rehab the next day or a couple days later, however long it took only because I threatened to call the police on my dad
Melissa Ebken 35:44
and you're 15
Jonny McCoy 35:46
and I'm 15 Yeah, and my older brother's gone. It's just me. And so they take mom away to rehab. She goes to Cottonwood, Arizona. And I had pretty much you know, given up. I was like, Oh, this lady, she's out, she's just going to be alive. You know, she would be covered in feces, like I'd have I couldn't have friends over id's, you know, popular guy. And if she would come out of the room, she had all these skin issues from the alcohol her hair was falling out. I mean, this woman was beautiful. She's my angel growing up. She every night it was just mom and I. And so I've pretty much given up but but then her therapist started reaching out to me and asked me, you know, hey, you know, she really wants to repair this relate none of the other ones that she really. So I started asking for recipes for the dinners that she used to make. So I can put my little brother, you know, kind of give him a little sense of, you know, symbolism of family or togetherness or whatever. And, you know, I went off to college, my mom got out of rehab, you know, she she went and got a little job as a hotel, front desk clerk, you know, how they do in recovery. And eventually, I started seeing, you know, $0.00 in my bank account, always. And eventually I started seeing like $250, $100 and I called her. I said, What is this and it was she was getting her checks direct deposited into my bank account. And she knew that I was struggling in college. I mean, we didn't have any money, like my dad out, you know, I was on the Pell Grant, which is for people who are below the poverty line. And so we began to patch up our relationship. And when I got into law school, you know, they were very, very, my mom and dad were both very proud of me. And I thought that I was going to move on with my life. And then on October 17, 2009, another horrific trauma happened to me. Worse than the other stuff I described. I was practicing corporate law in downtown Columbia, South Carolina, big job, thought I was a big wig, you know, first person in my family to become anything, really. My older brother ended up going to law school after I did, which was the purpose of me going I wanted to open up opportunities for my family that weren't there for me. And after I got out of law school, I had this good job, corporate downtown, but I got diagnosed with Crohn's disease several years earlier, there'd be a surgery. So my drinking wasn't, you know, on par with what it would have been for a guy fresh out of law school at that point. And on this fateful night, there was a wedding in town the next day, so this night was a rehearsal dinner and all my friends are coming into town, and they're staying with me from out of town. And they're going into the rehearsal. Some of them are going to the rehearsal dinner, and one of the individuals is I went to pick up after he told me, hey, it's over with come get me from downtown. And as I got down there, he was standing outside of the restaurant, the bar where he had been earlier, and you know, kind of bigger group was inside as well. So I kind of went inside, and by the time I had come back outside to check on him, he was on the ground and three police officers were on top of him. Well, attorneys hang out with attorneys. This guy was a prosecutor. And he was a prosecutor for a very, very famous prosecutor in our state, Strom Thurmond, Jr.
Melissa Ebken 38:57
I've heard that name.
Jonny McCoy 38:59
Yeah, yeah. I bet you have. And so I wait till they lift him up. He's writhing in pain, his his hand was flapping behind his head. So when they put him on the ground, imagine your hand in here, and I was worried. But I didn't do anything aggressive. I wait till they stand him up. And I said, Listen, you know, why don't you guys just release him into my custody. I'll make sure he gets home. No problem. I didn't know what happened. They say they pushed me away. So who are you? Backup. I said, Whoa, all right. If you guys are really taking him to jail. Just tell me are you taking the Alvin Glenn? Are you taking him down to Ceeny so I could pick him up to take him to a wedding? Well, who ya know back the, who are you? And Okay, well, I'm an attorney. I know because they were confused how you know about the two different jail system. So I'm an attorney. And as soon as I said, I was an attorney, they they left off of him. One guy stayed on him and they came at me and they flipped me around and they put me in handcuffs and they walked us over the cop car and I kept saying, Wait, what am I going to jail for? You don't have to tell me what am I going to jail for? And he kept saying the officer on the supervisor kept saying, for that right there, for asking questions. And I was and I said listen this, the only thing I learned was that you can question government, you can question law enforcement. And it turned out that Kip was being arrested for trespassing, which was, you know, 80 80 feet away from the front of the building from the front entrance to the building. And I've been arrested for interfering with an arrest. But what happened was when they took us down to the jail that night. I remember thinking to myself, all of the times that my dad described his jail experience to his 10 year old son, so when my dad got home from jail, he sat me down and told me all about the lights and the screaming and the drug addicts and the violence and the abuse. And this is this is Goliath, telling me this stuff, and I, and then it and then it then it was that was when DARE programs became became prevalent schools, DARE drug awareness, resistance, education, shout out to DARE in the 80's. And so every month, we're being told, these are the things you can go to jail for you jail, jail, jail, and I was, I was so afraid of committing a crime, that the only way that I could regulate that was to just stay away from anything altogether. So I've never smoked weed, I've never done any drugs or anything like that. So by the time we get to the jail that night, I am in full anxiety breakdown. And they put us in this little room when we get there. And they come one by one. And there's eight of us in there total. And when they come, one by one, and they ask each person what you know, what do you do for a living, we need to put you on bond paperwork. So we're listening to all these other guys, and they tell what your charge is; murder, attempted murder burglary, the guy standing next to me, had just had just attempted to kill his girlfriend, then my friend, and then another guy with a DUI, only two of us in there for trespassing. One by one, they let all these folks out to bond hearings. One by one, until there was three left me, my friend and the guy who was in there for attempting to kill his his girlfriend. For us, they'd walk us they walk us up to the door, our orange jumpsuits and they tell us you need to go change your being shipped to the general population.
Melissa Ebken 42:23
Jonny McCoy 42:24
And I remember, I remember, at that moment, like it happened so fast, and they put us in this little shower area. And it was me and my buddy and the other guy, they weren't even worried about changing because he was covered in blood. It was me and my buddy. And I remember I just remember thinking we're gonna have to stick together in here, like, what's going to happen. And I remember him who was a prosecutor dealt with these situations, looking so afraid. so afraid. And, and that was when I remember thinking to myself, whatever happens, whatever happens, it's not as bad as your dad says, not as bad, it's not going to be that way, you're not going to stay overnight. Boy, was I wrong. So they come and they get us Kipp's the the correctional officer comes and gets me and the other guy, and he's walking us down and there's a big door at the end of the hallway. And this guy is huge, huge guy turns to both of us, because we were shaking, and he goes, Do not let them see you scared. And then he opens the door. And all 86 inmates were eating lunch, all of them. And I'm thinking, well, this is we're screwed because we we did not. We were not well versed in what to do, where to stand what you know. And we were immediately picked on, you know, commotion in our room. And so they moved our room down to be a little bit closer to the desk so they could watch us. And then after dinner that night. As we're walking back to cells, I hear one of the guards screaming and running. And by the time I've turned around, they opened the door. And the guys hanging there and so I witnessed an inmate take his own life. And I just, on top of trauma. Right? And I just remember, like you imagine what it looks like when a bomb goes off. And the first thing that you think about is like the colors change. And that's what I like, as soon as that that soon as the noise started. Because the officer went and shock. A trained officer fell to the ground right in front of the front of the jail cell. So another guy so now I'm just like face to face looking at this guy who had been hung himself. And it was obvious that he was dead. He had his tongue out and his eyes were popping out of his head. And this guy comes running down from the entrance way. I mean, this was like three minutes so you can imagine There's something happened to one of us, runs out fromthe entranceway. And he's yelling at his mic, suicide code, whatever. And by the time he gets down there, he cuts the guy down. And when he rolls him over, that's the memory that I have. And when he rolls him over, because that's when I got the best look at like everything. And, you know, people are like, Well, why don't you look away? Are you serious? I was in a jail. I was in jail. I didn't like, you look, where the commotion is happening as a as a trauma response to process it, but also protect yourself like, are they going to come? Is this, you know, is this a threat, it's coming to me. So eventually, you know, they put us in our cells, they made sure we were locked in there. Then a judge came down, after she had gotten word that, you know, these guys were in the jail, who witnessed the suicide, and the guy was still on the floor, when they took us to our bond hearing at midnight. It was a crime scene. So I'm in there, like my dad, with my grandfather, with a dead body near me, for you know, five, six hours, seven hours before they took us in the bond hearing until they let us out. But it was the tracks, the inability to move to get away from danger, that put me into a permanent state of fight, flight or freeze. And I was in a permanent state, when I left that jail. And I was diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety, depression, trauma, and giving my first benzodiazepine two days after I got out of the jail. A week, into me getting out of the jail, I started seeing cop cars coming around my house, I started hearing from friends, oh my buddies dating this police officer, and, you know, they're talking about coming to get you for something real, because they heard that they got you for something that wasn't real, and that there's a lawsuit so they're going to try to find something on you. And so, I mean, I just broke, and I told this guy who I was living with, I gotta get out of here, man, I, you know, I think I'm gonna kill myself, I think I'm gonna take my life if I don't get out of here. And the only place I had to go was back home where all of these dark memories were. And where there's this idiot dad of mine, who still hasn't come to grips with how toxic he is with his, with what he says and does and how he talks to people. So I go to get my hair cut at a hair salon, the same one that you always go to, you know, we all gotta, I just want. And when I moved home three hours away two and a half hours, I wanted to, I just wanted to make sure that I gotten a haircut, gotten a couple of my stuff out of Colombia. So I'd never had to come back. And I didn't return for four years. And the reason I didn't return is because when I went to get my hair cut, the young lady cutting my hair told me, Hey, there's a surveillance video of your arrest. And that's when everything changed. She told me with tears in her eyes. So I ran to my old law firm who I was still working with at the time, I got a USB and I typed up exploitation of evidence letter, and I called the owner of the bar, and I called his attorney and they met me there the next day, and it looked like Steven Spielberg had set up cameras in this little rinky dink bar. And at that moment, and I watched and I and I, because the officers had the claim that I physically touch them. Or it's that, you know, now they're learning the law later. So they put in there I grabbed an officer by the arm. And I didn't get that news until a couple days later. And so when I got the video, and it showed that I didn't touch anybody that that the guy I got arrested with was standing on a wall, he can do a texting with his head down, they assaulted both of us, we didn't do anything. The video goes viral, because we attach it to the lawsuit. And and that's when they I thought that they had they'll admit what they did. They'll give me my peace of mind back. They'll give me my soul back, because that was taken from me. And they didn't. They didn't they pushed the pedal down even further. And they said, You know what, there's less than 1/10 of a second, where you're not where your hands are not seen, I guess because I turn like that. And my hands are up the whole time. And we think that that's that's the time that you went down and touched her arm. I swear to God, that that is what they claim. And they said, If you don't drop your lawsuit, we're going to elevate it to assault and battery on a police officer and put you back in the same jail cell. I went through that for four years. Four years. They deposed my ex girlfriend and asked her how many times we had sex after I came out of the jail as if to say, if the guy's got mental illness, you know, why are you guys having fun? In the bedroom? She was married with two kids at the time of the deposition. They deposed my mother and said Don't you think your son was drunk that night? Because you were an alcoholic and ruined his life. They deposed my father and said Don't you think he grabbed that female because you used to beat your wife and he's a wife beater now too? Deposed my older brother, everybody. And after I got done with that lawsuit, I won. They changed the law. And you know it's forever to be known as McCoy vs City of Colombia stands for "you cannot arrest me for asking a question" it meant a lot to me, meant a lot to me. But the damage had been done. I had, I had suffered severely for those four years. I've been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy from pain in my legs. Botox injections for pain in my head, my eyes were twitching so much they were closed the majority of the time, when I would try to focus on things. The anxiety was so bad that I mean, I was you know, I was 60 pounds less than I am now. And I would continuously wait for them to come get me at the door. Wait. I was just waiting for them to come kick the door in and get me. And then eventually, we won my case. And I took the money. And I put it all into doing a criminal deffense practice. Now this was not something I ever imagined I wanted to do. But I knew that they were doing this to me, and what were they doing to people who don't have a law degree? What are they doing to people who, you know, don't have access to this kind of defense. And so I started getting triggered every time a new case would come in. They'd pull somebody over for a tag light violation, they'd search for nine and a half hours, you know, find a pill in the back of the, you know, a 60 year old woman's purse, and they take her to jail for controlled substance. And I just couldn't deal with that properly. But I was making money. And I knew I had to cope. I knew I needed the alcohol. I knew I needed to traveling and you know, the wild party, because I was in full blown PTSD full blown every day all night. And it got to the point where I would get a case in and I would read the facts of the case. And the first part would be the police executed a search warrant at 5am. They kick the door down, they breached they got inside. What do you think I dreamed about that night? So eventually I started sleeping in the woods across the street from my house. I'd get really drunk. And I would go over there and I would just sit and I would wait for them to come. And then I would go inside. I would shower. I'd clean off and I'd go to court and I'd win. And I come home and I'd colapse. So eventually, I would travel around the state and the country to get away from these police. These people who I thought were coming to get me. And I learned that traveling out of the country was very therapeutic for me. It was like I could rest. Now I'm sick. I'm not saying that anybody should be afraid to cops like this. I'm sick. And when I would sit down. So I decided as I started planning my suicide as I started like walking through, like how many pills you're gonna have to take, should you do it outside. So you know, I took it upon myself to leave the country and try to connect spiritually with a higher power because after you have gone through all I went through I mean, I was in denial of God and the universe. Atheist. I mean, you can imagine. And I go, and I climb Machu Picchu with a buddy of mine down in Peru. And I got up to the top and there's no ropes. And I'm thinking of what how in the world is. How do people not slip off? But I remember thinking that this is your this is your chance, bro, either right now, or make an agreement. And I and I looked up I mean, you're in the clouds overwhelming. And I just said I just need a break. Just one break. And that in the next day we we flew to Brazil. And the following night, I met my wife teaching Samba on her birthday in a veranda in Rio.
And she is I mean, I'm only alive because of her. She's the only reason that she's all my reasons she's but she struggles too you know, and on our first date the first time you know, I got her to go to dinner with me the first time. And her dad was being released from a involuntarily committed facility where they treated you for drug alcohol abuse and other symptoms that she got interrupted in our, in our dinner, our first dinner and said I'm really sorry, I had to take this call. First of all the girls I'm used to when just picked it up, walked away. Said I'm really sorry, I need to take this call. And she takes it in Portuguese and she puts it down. And I you know, I said you don't have to tell me what it was about. She tells me what it's about. And I tell her what I'm about. And that was it. That was it. I knew that I would never be apart from her ever again. And then I went home I meet we only known each other for four days. I went home and I immediately applied for a tourist visa and it got denied because she was so poor. Then I called two legislators Lindsey Graham and Tom Rice, who were my legislators and Senators. They sent letters they called, they did everything. The response they got back was her family makes less than $2,000 a year; seven people in a two bedroom house. Why would she ever go back? We don't allow people to visit here who have no reason to go back. And she had just her her nephew had just been born. her family, her grandma everything. And she's going because now she's from a totally different culture. She didn't live in Rio, she lived in central Central Brazil. And now she's going, Well, what do I, you know? I don't have anything so they're right. Like, I'm gonna come back though. Because it's my family, then that in their culture, that's all the reason you need. She's going why why don't they let me come? I'm done. So I started having to so you can imagine how my mental health went. This is the key to me being ok, this was the only time I felt like I was okay. So I started flying her over to the Bahamas because our own country wouldn't let her layover. So I started flying her. This poor girl's never left her country never been on a plane, flying her all the way into the Bahamas, and I fly my brother over to meet her. And, you know, it was a really tough time. And then eventually, we got approved a year later on a fiancee visa. We got married on May 5 2018. And I, I took a bunch of sleeping medicine on in July. And I tried to go to sleep forever. And I just didn't I had been awake for several days. And I guess I knew that when I woke up, she was going to take care of me she was going to tell me what to do and where to go because I didn't have anybody. And I'm everybody's hero, who tells me what to do? And I enrolled in a trauma treatment facility in Ocala, Florida called The Refuge. When I got there. I had, I had upped my dosage of Xanax to six milligrams with my therapist. And if or with my doctor, my treat my treating physician. And if you users are listening, if you guys take one, you'll be asleep for 12 hours. And I was practicing law at a high level. But this is very dangerous medication very, very dangerous. It's impossible to get off of that much without getting getting help in a treatment facility. And so I did but I was supposed to. I was supposed to come off over the course of 18 months. And I promised my wife, I left on January 20. And I said by August 20, I'll be off of this Xanax so that you can come for family week. And I just went to the to the doc to the doctor there on the campus of the treatment facility I went to I says is it possible for me to come off the Xanax in 30 days? And he lied and said it was and he switched me to Valium. And I just went home that night I was on 60 milligrams of Valium. And I just wrote at the bottom of my journal 60 55 50 44 all the way down to zero. And by the time my wife got there, I was nonverbal. I was horrific. I had gone through horrific withdrawals, I had ripped an organ that needed to be repaired surgically, I laid in the bathtub for so long, having the water run over me that my skin got raw. And I was you know, bleeding from everywhere. The withdrawals from what I went through were something that I mean, I knew that they were going to be bad. But I remember just thinking Let it let this take me. I know I'm suicidal already. Just let this finish. Finish me off, please. So that so that my wife doesn't have to, you know, be a widow because I took my own life. And the craziest part about all of this is and the reason I tell this whole story, when I enrolled for treatment, they asked me Do you have a history of mental illness in your family. And I didn't know because my father never told me when he went through. So so this guy saw me dying because I witnessed the suicide and was around a dead body.
🎶Thank you for listening to this bonus episode, the story of Johnny McCoy. You can continue listening to the rest of the episode where he shares what has happened to him since going through all of this and the work he is doing now in Episode 24: Pursuing Mental Health With Jonny McCoy. 🎶
🎶 Episode Outro: Thank you so much for tuning into today's episode. If this encouraged you, please consider subscribing to our show and leaving a rating and review so we can encourage even more people just like yourself. We drop a new episode every Wednesday so I hope you continue to drop in and be encouraged to lean into and overcome all the uncomfortable stuff life brings your way. 🎶
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Hi, my name is Melissa Ebken, and I'm so glad you found your way here.
I am at home in the difficult spaces of peoples’ lives, willing to listen and to support those who work to grow themselves. I am a trained coach and have consulted with churches in conflict. Not your stereotypical minister, I embrace the Gospel with joy and laughter as I seek to help those around me grow in faith and understanding, always striving to leave people better than they came. An agent of wholeness, I create a safe space for people, especially those who have been marginalized, where they can understand how ridiculously loved and valued they are by God/Higher Power/Spirit, and to experience the difference that makes in life.
I started the Pursuing Uncomfortable Podcast to share the stories of people who have faced life's most difficult challenges, to inspire you to lean into and overcome your own. It's helpful to know that you're not alone in your struggles and to see how others have navigated similar circumstances. You can listen to it here.
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