Mental health matters.
It matters in everyone. In our teachers. In our cops. In our firefighters and paramedics. Everyone.
I’ve been struggling with mental health issues since my early 20’s. As I grew into my late 20’s I thought I more or less had a handle on things. I coasted for a few years, and then was hit by something that took me totally by surprise, though the signs had been there. None of the “professionals” I saw to keep myself doing well caught it.
I left EMS my brothers and sisters in blue, EMS, in 2013 after I fell apart on the job, and was relieved until I could get myself sorted out. I attempted to go back a few months later, and last just over two days. Ended up in hospital seriously depressed and suicidal a few days later.
The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from my job had grabbed hold, tight, and refused to let go. My idiot doctor refused to even discuss the PTSD. Said everything I had going on was Borderline Personality Disorder, which was definitely a factor, but not all of it.
It wasn’t until two years later when Lynn pushed me to go to another doctor that I was finally diagnosed with PTSD on top of everything else.
PTSD is REAL. It is insidious. It creeps in like a thief in the night. It robs you of joy. It makes you fearful. It wrecks lives. It turns out I was much more susceptible to it as I have the other mental illnesses as well.
When I started in EMS in the early part of the 2000’s I loved my job. I lived and breathed EMS. My EMS career stabilized me for awhile. I was young, cocky and admittedly arrogant. I thought for sure I would retire from EMS. PTSD was always something that happened to everyone else. A lot of the practitioners I knew felt the same way.
I was wrong, and so were some of them. Humans are not designed to deal with trauma, death, and basically the worst that humanity has to offer on a daily basis. Flat out, you can’t do that job without support yourself, at least not without losing some of your own humanity in the process.
By the time I got my diagnosis, and started treatment for the PTSD part of my illnesses, it was too late. A problem that could have been headed off years before and possibly kept me working in a job I loved had, thanks to an inept doctor and my own faith in him and in myself that PTSD couldn’t happen to me, grown to a point where it was all damage control. When I finally saw a WCB doctor for an assessment, he ruled me medically ineligible to return to EMS.
Now, I have a new passion in life. I’m a mental health advocate. I strive to end the stigma that surrounds mental illness. Even after 5 years I know I have battles ahead, I just hope my continued survival despite everything stacked against me can offer some inspiration and hope.