“I know now I’ll never commit suicide. It’s simply off the table. Dancing Well showed me I can get beyond those feelings.”
Ted had been isolating for months, staying in his apartment alone, only going out for medical appointments and group. In his intake interview, he said he thought about suicide all the time, every day.
At his first Dancing Well session, Ted was unsure. He’d never danced a step in his life, and he didn’t think he could do it. But then the live music started, his partner took his hand, and before he knew it, he was dancing. Five minutes later, he was smiling. That smile never left his face all evening.
Ted tells the story this way:
“When I started dancing, I found my smile. I hadn't smiled in I can't say how long. On that first night, I tried to dance, started smiling, kept dancing, then kept seeing everyone else absolutely grinning. Before I knew it I was grinning, too. Every time we danced, it was the same – I couldn’t help it. No matter how I felt when I walked in the door, I found myself smiling and laughing the whole time.”
“I wasn’t suicidal,” he says now, looking back. “I didn’t even have suicidal thoughts. My nightmares got less and less.”
Through Dancing Well, Ted rediscovered his joy in life. His mood, memory, and sleep all improved, and he found himself feeling more at ease around other people – both in and outside the group.
For our last dance, Ted brought his camera and asked each of us if he could take our picture. At our reunion dance a few weeks later, he laid out our portraits. We couldn’t believe how great we looked – Ted’s warm, welcoming nature had brought out the best in all of us.
Today, Ted doesn’t spend a lot of time in his apartment. “Now I try to get out as much as I can,” he says. He volunteers three days a week for a successful veteran suicide prevention program, co-leading a therapy group and doing home visits with veterans. Last year, he flew to California to speak to a huge audience on veteran suicide prevention at the American Association of Suicidology convention.
Ted is also an integral part of Dancing Well, speaking to groups and helping with recruiting and outreach. “I want to do what I can to spread the word about the program,” he says. “I’m thrilled to help.”
Ted has also bravely faced a challenging new type of therapy – with wonderful results. “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, by far,” he says. “But I was willing to do the work, and I had a huge breakthrough.”
“I feel totally different now,” he says. “It's like I have a new life.” He pauses a moment, then adds, “And it all started with Dancing Well.”