The War + Treaty’s Michael Trotter Opens Up About a Recent Bout With Suicidal Thoughts
Michael Trotter, one half of husband-and-wife duo The War and Treaty, got on social media on Monday (July 17) to share a recording of a new song he wrote during a moment of personal crisis.
"A couple of weeks ago I had a suicide spell attack my mind," Trotter writes in the caption. "I had just learned that a close battle buddy died and on top of it all I was struggling with being on the road for the first time in my life."
Trotter goes on to say that his wife and bandmate, Tanya Trotter, had long been warning him that "a breakdown" was inevitable if he didn't take time to rest and reset, but he felt compelled to keep going, especially since they were experiencing more and more career success.
"Well, I finally broke, and I was alone," Michael recounts. "Tanya was at the store shopping for the house, the children were asleep and none of my team was picking up da phone. I was feeling really s--tty and it was causing me to forget that I was loved."
"The drama was unfolding and I had a choice to make. Either jump in the pool and sit at the bottom until it gets dark and drift away. Or sit by the pool and and let the water calm you down and actually think rationally," he continues. "A producer who I met this year called my phone and he and his wife comforted me. Told me it was ok."
So as he sat there by the swimming pool, Michael began to write the lyrics to the song in the video, which are about his experience of suicidal ideation and his feelings of betraying those he loves the most through those feelings.
Called "The Nails in You," the song speaks of the crucifixion of Jesus, and the guilt Michael feels for the pain his mental health battles bring to those around him.
"I felt like I was betraying everyone who believed in me. I was betraying my beautiful wife who thought I had reached a level of 'ok-ness' and I could be left alone even if it was for an hour. I felt like I was betraying my children who love seeing me daily and believed that I crushed my demons so they can too," he writes. "I felt like I was letting Christian who I know loves me down, but we weren't speaking over a stupid misunderstanding. I felt like I was letting the fans down who came to our shows and I shout from the top of my lungs not to give up. I felt like I was betraying GOD who saved me time after time and showed me over and over again that I was worthy and I was an overcomer."
Michael, who served two tours of duty in Iraq as a military service member, has long been open about the challenges he faces with mental health, suicidal thoughts and PTSD. In 2020, he spoke to Rolling Stone about another bout with suicidal ideation in 2017, when he felt that if he died by suicide, his life insurance policy would be able to provide his family a way out of their financial stress.
Over the course of his career, Trotter has seen The War and Treaty's music as a powerful way to send out a message of hope and light to those who are struggling — even as he continues to fight his own mental health battles.
"I remember writing 's 'Five More Minutes' and making a deal with God that if he saved me in that moment then I would dedicate my life to pulling people out of the darkness and into the light," he continues. "Here I am again standing with the hammer in one hand and the nails in the other and I was done nailing God back to the cross. So I wrote these words."
If you or someone you know is struggling, text or call 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.) Even if it feels like it, you are not alone.