After a long summer of working around the house I found it was time get moving forward with my life. I want to share with my readers a few things Mostly, what I have gone through and where I will be going.
As you may know I have been recently diagnosed with PTSD. I have lost my job that I have had for 20 years. That’s another story for a future post. The process of dealing with PTSD, anxiety, and depression is all in how you accept it and move forward.
For the future of this blog I will openly share my process in hope to inspire others. PTSD and the associated mental illnesses that accompany PTSD differ between individual. Like life itself, we all travel different paths. How we handle the path will determine our final outcome.
My story started on October 29, 2017. During that time I did not recognize that I would be traveling this road. I was working at the fire department.
A little background on our department at this time. We staff 2 engines, 1 aerial and 2 rescues (both paramedic level ambulances) out of 2 stations. Our minimum staffing was 11 with 13 assigned on each group. We occasionally staff a third rescue based upon manpower and call volume. This will move the aerial operator and a person we call in to staff the third rescue. It works good for us and provides the community with an level of care they deserve.
It was an abnormal fall day in Western Massachusetts. The sky was clear and the temperature was warm for this time of year. I was on the apparatus floor looking over the station to prepare for our next shift. I was thinking of have the crew do a little house cleaning.
Then the radio sounded dispatching us to a motor vehicle pedestrian accident. My rescue crew was enroute to the hospital with a patient from a pervious call. The third rescue was dispatched due to the nature of the call and location.
Prior to our arrival, the police officers on scene transmitted to us to “step it up.” This usually means things at out of control and the police need us ASAP. Our police officers are well trained and are some of the best I have ever worked with. This transmission tells me as the officer that will be in charge, stuff is about to get real.
Due to my ethics and federal regulations I will not go into details. Turns out they had a young boy, the same age as my youngest, that was hit by a car. The boy was not doing well and needed immediate attention.
My years of experience working in public safety tells me what the outcome was going to be. Maybe some day in the future I will publish a more in-depth post.
Over the Years
Since this incident I always had difficulty within myself. I did not initial recognize the changes I was going through. Honestly, I had a few ideas and did spend a lot of time alone in my head. Now I realize this was the start of something that would change me mentally.
I had day where I was afraid to go to the job I loved for year. When I was there I was in my own world. Sitting in my office or in a room alone with my thoughts of what if that was my son?
I noticed my work ethic seemed to deteriorate not understanding why. The job and people I loved just didn’t really seem to matter any more. I had day of just wanting to end my life. There was one thing that kept me going, thinking of my boys. The connection I had with them I lost during my divorce. I was always thinking of them, while comparing them to the boy from the accident.
As time went by these thoughts began to become part of my life. Unless you have never gone through this you may never understand what PTSD. PTSD is a mental illness that can take over your life before you know it. It can hit when you least expect it in many different ways at any time in your life.
Simple put for me. I spent almost 3 years replaying this one incident while adding more during that time. Before this incident, I had worked on becoming a leader in my career as well as a mentor for others. I looked forward to working until my retirement age in the best job in the world.
But as they say, things change, people change. and the future is unpredictable.
After spending years with little to no sleep and my mind always thinking “what if?” I have found that getting the help after any incident is the #1 priority for ALL first responders. I come from the old school, after a tough day, head to the you favorite watering hole and though some done. I recall some days of not stopping until I passed out.
This was not the case this time. I spent many days and nights thinking of that boy laying on the ground. How to tell his father that things are not going to end well. For the first time in nearly 30 years I was left with no way to explain to a father what was happening. I have lived with this for almost 3 years.
This PTSD thing has cost me a career I love. I still think of the “what if?” Then I remember what one of my counselors said while I was in a treatment program. I spent the month of June in a treatment program designed for first responders after the Boston Marathon Bombing.
This is what I keep repeating: “You can not control the past that gives you depression, you can not control the future that depresses you. What you can control is the here and now. It will help you continue to move forward.”
My here and now is that I am a retired firefighter. I am using skills I have learned this summer. One thing I am doing is learning something I have always wanted to do. I started a Real Estate Salesperson course with plans to get my license. This is the one thing I have control of in the here and now.
What is your Here and Now?
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