After a weekend away, I hit the ground running today.
This morning was spent catching up on some coursework, then I joined Lynn for lunch at the shop before heading up to Alliance to cover an event.
After the event, it was grabbing a couple groceries before head home to do some school reading. After the reading, I made supper for Lynn and I and then we curled up on the couch to watch some television.
I was intending to hop on the treadmill for a bit tonight, but the show we were watching had me engaged. We are currently watching the third season of the old emergency services drama “Third Watch.” The episodes we watched tonight were the lead-up and aftermath of the terror attacks which took place in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001.
Watching these old episodes are not the easiest thing for me to do, because to be quite frank, I was not in a very stable point in my life when the attacks happened. However, the fact that I am able to watch these shows again is another indication of where I am mentally.
I’m not going to lie, watching the first responders at work in the show do trigger my PTSD a bit, but nowhere near as badly as they used to. I liken it to exposure therapy, where over time my ability to tolerate that stimuli has slowly improved.
I think part of the reason the tolerance has improved is because I have allowed myself to be exposed to the stimuli, and because I am finally at a place in my life where I recognize that the triggering memories are just that, memories.
It doesn’t mean that the exposure is comfortable, or fun, or makes me miss the job any less -and I do miss it- but I also recognize that the job is part of my past, and I need to work towards my future.
I used to blame myself for not lasting working as a first responder. I considered what happened to be a character flaw or a weakness. I never let myself sit with the fact that I did have a mental health condition, nor did I let myself sit with the fact that some of the calls I dealt with no one should have to see.
I realize both things now, as well as acknowledging that with both things coming together in a perfect storm were nothing that anyone with the same set of conditions thrown at them could have successfully navigated.
I’m also finding myself increasingly being able to separate the television from real life. I know what is happening on the screen is not real life, and not happening to me. My body, which used to flood my body with adrenaline any time I heard a siren -on television or otherwise- now barely flinches when I hear them. They still trigger me, but nowhere to the extent that they used to.
This is my bad time of year, and I’ve lost track of the number of Septembers that I have been in hospital, and the fact that this year I’m not, in addition to the television that I’m watching, tells me just how far I have come.