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Incredible recovery of depressed woman who shot half her face off but survived before finding love



A depressed woman who blew half her face off by shooting herself in the head has revealed how she found love and happiness following her miracle survival.

Christen McGinnes woke up one morning in 2010 and decided to blast herself with her .357 revolver at her home in Virginia.

Christen, now 46, said she pulled the trigger at point blank range following a year that had seen her lose her job, break up with her boyfriend and the death of her grandmother.

However, she somehow survived the shooting, which left her in a coma for three weeks with half her face blown off, and has since fallen in love with a “wonderful man”.

The bullet destroyed the right side of her face, from her eye to her chin, and blew off her jawbone, a third of her teeth and tongue, the lower half of her mouth, her right eye as well as shattering her nose.

Amazingly, she said she doesn’t regret her actions.

Speaking about her suicide attempt, she said she tidied her apartment moments before blasting herself on the balcony so the bullet wouldn’t pass through a wall and possibly hit someone else.

Christen told how she was calm for the first time in months and believed at the time that killing herself was the “right thing to do”.

She said: “Right up to until 2009, I lived a charmed life. I had a lot of friends.

“I loved my job and I was best friends with my grandmother. And then, everything went to hell.

“I lost my job, my grandmother died. I was dating a really nice guy. I moved in with him and then he broke up with me.”

She continued: “I’d lost all of my savings and began drinking heavily. I hadn’t been sleeping well and, although I’m not sure if I knew it, I was majorly depressed.

“I had asked a few people for help but I felt like a burden and isolated myself.

“At the time, I thought that killing myself was the right thing to do. The right decision.”

“I had a gun. I had a revolver and I knew that would kill me. I knew what those guns can do. They are very powerful.

“So, I tidied the apartment because I knew people will be coming and I went out in the balcony because I was afraid the bullet will go through my head and through the wall and hurt someone else.

“I was calm for the first time in months. I wasn’t afraid to die. So I pulled the trigger.”

Unbeknown to her, Christen’s roommate was sleeping in next door.

She added: “I pulled the trigger. And wow, it was really loud and really I couldn’t see anything.

“And then I heard my roommate scream, “What’s that, what’s that!” And I thought, ‘Oh my god.

“He wasn’t supposed to be in the home.

“I heard him running around the apartment screaming, ‘Where are you?’ and then he came out to the balcony.

“The noise that came out of his mouth was the shrillest, most panicked shriek I’ve ever heard.”

Christen was airlifted to hospital and was in a coma for three weeks.

She continued: “The very first thing I remember was my dad holding my hand and saying: ‘All you have to do is heal, everything is taken care of, you are safe’.

“There were piles of cards and gifts, all around me.

“I had a nurse with me whilst I was still unconscious and she would read me every card and letter and I am convinced that helped in my recovery and also helped with my mindset to feel grateful that I survived this, instead of angry.

“I think the biggest change for me was seeing how much support I really had and how many people truly cared about me – and some of them were downright pissed that I had done this to myself.

“They still loved me, but boy were they angry.

“That affirmation, that love was so powerful. It took the anger and depression away.”

Her friend Howard, was one of the first to visit her in hospital.

He said: “When I walked into the room at the hospital she was not recognizable.

“She was swollen, half of her face was bandaged because it was blown off.

“The jaw was gone, the eye was gone, the cheek was gone, everything was destroyed.

“That side of her face and the other side was so swollen that it was almost not a face.

“But when I saw the forehead and the red hair I knew that it was my Christen.”

Since her suicide attempt, Christen has had 49 surgeries to reconstruct her face, and will need more in the future.

She said: “I sleep a lot because my body needs so much time to heal, even now.

“And I still have lots more therapy and surgeries planned. I’ll never be the person I was before, but that’s good.

“I’m more grateful now. It’s a struggle for me getting around but I enjoy the life that I have.

“During my recovery, I met and fell in love with a wonderful man.”

“He is deaf and so doesn’t mind that my speech is not what it once was. I value my friendships more and my time with others.

“But I don’t regret what I did.”

Now, Christen spends her time helping others break the stigma that surrounds mental health and suicide attempts by volunteering at the Trauma Network Centre in Virginia.

She said: “I am relentlessly optimistic and I never had a problem with getting out of bed or feeling sad or any of those things.

“So, it was startling to me when I started struggling with my mental health.

“Suicide is an awful thing, but more people have tried it than you know.

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“There is a such a stigma around suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts that people keep it hidden.

“I think that if this wasn’t the case, then we might save people.

“By talking about suicide and admitting we’ve been there, others can know they are not alone.”

Howard added: “For Christen to go through all these surgeries and watching her go through the process it only underlined what I always thought about her.

“I always thought that she was a strong person, I always thought that she was a capable person, I always thought that she had great compassion for others.”

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