Seasonal Depression mixed with Post Traumatic Stress, a lovely combination.

yellow dry maple
Photo by Kadri Vosumae on

Fall is beginning to rear it’s ugly head in my area.

So far we have been lucky that the weather has mainly stayed wet, as snow has hit the ground in area’s surrounding us. For a September in Alberta, that is nothing to be surprised at. I remember to waking up to snow reports in Calgary during Stampede one year, and that’s in July…

I know for some, the fall can be a beautiful time. It brings an amazing array of new colours to enjoy. It brings familiar together again for Thanksgiving in October. A sense of routine settles on homes when kids head back to school, and vacations from work are over.

In others it can bring a sense of despair. The changing of the seasons can have an extremely negative affect on some people. The reduced daylight can start to sink people into a deep depression. People may have a claustrophobic, trapped, feeling at night.

I don’t claim to know much about Seasonal Affective Disorder, because it is not one of my diagnoses, and because my major depressions usually hit in August when the sun is still out for longer days, and carries through to January when I start rebounding.

I have discussed at length with my psychologist and my doctors about why I crash at this time of year, and there unfortunately has been no solid answers. Right now my leading theory is the fall has been the time of year when I have dealt with the most fatalities on the job.

A double fatality MVC in September of one year. A homicide and a suicide (two separate incidents) a few months later. I know that September 11 impacted me way harder than it should of as well. All of these calls and traumas individually shouldn’t be enough to sink me into a repetitive depression at this time of year, every year.

The cumulative effect of these traumas? Who knows? I know that I had some bad calls during the fall seasons over the years, but working on ambulance the crap flowed year round.  The cumulative effect on my mental health of the trauma I bore witness to is not something that goes away overnight.

To be honest, if you factor in my other comorbid diagnoses, I’m not sure the mental health issues I face regularly will ever be cured. I don’t have to like it. I just need to deal with it.

I had a doctor tell me recently that as much as they didn’t like reaching for the prescription pad as the first course of treatment, in his opinion, I was one of the few who likely would need the medication support for life.

It sucked to hear that, for any number of reasons. I guess it really highlighted how serious this beast is that I carry around inside. I am just happy to be at a place where I can have that support, as well as the insight to manage things, and get help when I can’t.

This world we live in is not easy. For those who have worked frontlines, witnessing the worst that humanity has to offer, it is even harder. The fact that the people on the frontlines do their job does give me hope though. To have been part of that world, even for a few years as I was, is tremendous honor. In very few other jobs do you get invited into somebody’s life when they are at their worst.

My prayer to all first responders is this: God, protect the members of our emergency services, those individuals who put themselves on the line to help others. Keep them safe. Keep them close. And keep them from being dragged into the darkness themselves.



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