Episode 24: Pursuing Mental Health with Jonny McCoy
Play • 41 min

     In October 2009, I witnessed a suicide while being unlawfully detained in a jail cell in Columbia, S.C. Although my case garnered national attention and I won the lawsuit against my wrongdoers, my mental health plummeted. As a practicing attorney, I constantly feared that my peers and the State Bar Association would discover that I had become heavily dependent on Xanax, which was prescribed for my unrelenting PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Nightmares, panic attacks, and despair nearly ended my life — and afraid of the stigma, I attempted suicide before I ever told anyone that I needed help.
       I spent 35 days in a PTSD recovery center and experienced six months of horrific benzodiazepine withdrawals, before realizing that I would not go far on my journey to recovery without a support system of people who understood me. I emerged from treatment on a mission: To help others who are silently suffering. In 2018, I started a PTSD and anxiety support group in my hometown.
     My time in the treatment facility taught me that connecting with others who are suffering is when the real healing begins. I learned that when you connect with someone who truly understands, you feel safe. Within this safe space, I was able to be honest, accepting, humble, open, and vulnerable — the things I needed to be to start my healing journey.
      I created WhiteFlag for others to find that connection, too. I want you to find the right people who can hear what you’re not able to say. No matter what day or time, someone will always be there. A person — unpaid and untrained — that you would meet in any support group. Welcome to the WhiteFlag movement.

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