Haunted by Tragedy
"9/11 ruined my life. It just took everything," laments Kenny.
"I'm done with hearing about 9/11," says his wife, Cyndi.
"I wish that my dad would just get over it," agrees his 18-year-old daughter, Gina.
"Before 9/11, I used to work for the highway department. I got called down to Ground Zero on a search-and-rescue team and to help people carry body parts to the morgue," Kenny recounts. "I developed heart and lung disease. I was also diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety, night terrors, panic attacks and deep, deep depression."
Cyndi says that since the tragedy, her husband has retreated to his couch. "Before 9/11, my husband would play sports, take the kids out to the park," she says, pausing to wipe away tears. "Me and Kenny have no life right now."
[AD]"I sit home and watch TV, but I'm not watching TV because I can't concentrate," Kenny says. "I get scared, so I lock the doors, because I don't know if a terrorist is going to come in."
"My dad definitely uses 9/11 as an excuse to stay in the house," Gina says. "I sometimes wish my dad would have died in 9/11. It's heartless to say, but those who have lost their lives in 9/11, their families were able to get over it. Mine is not, because he's a constant reminder of 9/11."
"When Gina told me she wished Kenny had died in 9/11, I was relieved, because that's exactly how I feel," Cyndi says.
Dr. Phil sympathizes with Kenny. "First off, I'm really sorry what you had to go through. I'm sorry for what all of us went through as a country and as a people," he says. "Describe your existence for me now."
Kenny says that prior to 9/11, he was the picture of health. "Because of all the stuff I was breathing in, I got heart disease, lung disease, and the â€˜9/11 cough' I can't stop. I just had to take medication before I came on."
"That's terrible, and it's tragic," Dr. Phil says. He points out that nearly nine years have passed since September 11, 2001.
[AD]Dr. Phil turns to Gina, who reached out to him for help. "What moved you to write a letter to Dr. Phil at 18 years of age?" he asks.
"It just seemed that there was absolutely no other recognition he could get that he needed, no help that he could get. You were my only option," she answers.
"You feel like it's time for him to move on," Dr. Phil observes.
"Yes, definitely. It's time for all of us to move on," she replies. "Not only him, but every responder. Everybody affected by 9/11."
Turning to Kenny, Dr. Phil says, "Your daughter and your wife have said, â€˜I wish he had died in 9/11 than live the way he's living now.' How do you feel about that?"
"I'm hurt about that. I didn't realize I was putting them through all this stuff," Kenny replies.
Dr. Phil addresses Gina. "Tell me what you're thinking and feeling right now," she replies.
"It's like he's a hero, but he also became a victim of 9/11, and nobody's helping him. Nobody knows what to do," she replies with tears in her eyes.
"What's changing in your mind and heart right now, as you sit here with your father?"
"I would definitely say that book," she says, referencing the excerpts from Kenny's diary that Dr. Phil read. "Hearing exactly what he did, exactly what he's seen, in detail, did change everything."
[AD]"What do you want to say to your dad now as he sits here?"
"I would say I'm sorry for not being understanding," Gina replies.
"I'm sorry that I have to put you through that," Kenny tells his daughter.
"She probably feels hurt that you did not tell her what you went through. You didn't share that with her," Cyndi says.
Addressing Gina and Cyndi, Dr. Phil asks, "Y'all don't really wish that he had died in 9/11?"
"No," Gina replies.
"Maybe a part of what he's like now," Cyndi answers.
"There are thousands of people out there who buried their loved ones, who right now are standing up in their living rooms at home, saying, â€˜Don't you say that, lady, because you don't know,'" Dr. Phil warns. "Do you believe he can get better, or do you believe this is his life?"
"If Kenny sees the light at the end of the tunnel, he can change. I know he can," Cyndi says.
Addressing Kenny, Dr. Phil says, "You've spent enough time being a victim; it's time to be a victor. It is time for you to say, â€˜I will not let that tragedy rob me of my life, my family and my future. They can knock down the buildings, they can kill innocent Americans, but they will not take my family.'"
[AD]Dr. Phil offers to send Kenny to the Lawlis Peavey PsychoNeuroPlasticity Center in Dallas, Texas for an evaluation. "We're going to do a multi-diagnostic program on you. We're going to look at your brain, we're going to look at your heart, we're going to look at your lungs " everything we can to figure out exactly where you are," he says. "I'm going to get you a trainer. I'm going to get you a gym. I'm going to get you off the couch."
Kenny expresses gratitude for Dr. Phil's intervention.