Ghosts of the past, roads to the future

joy painting brush
Photo by Bekka Mongeau on

We can’t outrun our pasts. Every event, every ghost in our history, makes us who we are right now. We cannot change what has happened, and we would not be who we are without those events in our past.

I have dealt with more than my share of trauma in my almost 40 years. I was picked on mercilessly when I was a kid. I have always had relationship issues. Looking back, I see the tendrils of my mental illness reaching back into my childhood.

There has long been an argument being waged as far as the nature/nurture causes of Borderline Personality disorder. Coming from a reasonably sane growth environment I can honestly say that I believe genetics do play a factor, as my genetic history is laden with mental health issues on both sides.

Adding to the genetics and interpersonal issues, I jumped head first into a career that I was very passionate about. I was very blessed to have earned my EMT certificate and gone to work in one of the best professions on the planet. Unfortunately I was not one of the usual “type A” personalities that the profession normally draws, and it did cause problems professionally.

I was honoured to be one of the few that got called into action to help others. I was with people when they drew their last breathe, and I helped the families begin to grieve. I’ve responded to suicides. I’ve dealt with people who were having the worst day of their life. It was an honourable profession, and not a day goes by that I don’t miss it.

The job came with a cost though. A cost to my soul. You can not be unaffected responding to a fatality. The smells that come from death are not pleasant. Seeing someones broken body trapped in a vehicle while we are trying to do something, anything, to keep that person alive, and ultimately being unsuccessful is a terrific burden to carry. There was no “one event” that brought on the PTSD. It was just an accumulation of all the crap calls over the years. All the calls that I thought I was handling.

In the five years since leaving the ambulance service, I have struggled. I’ve been on the other side of an EMT’s care. I’ve been hospitalized. I’ve just wanted the shit in my head to stop.

After everything I’ve been through, I am glad that I was not successful in my suicide attempts though. I have been through hell on earth, but I have come out stronger than ever. I may not like the ghosts or traumas from my past, but without them I would not be who I am today.

Just because it feels like you are stuck, it doesn’t mean that life won’t improve or change. Change is one of the only constants in life. With effort and commitment, change can become a reality.


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