As I rise this morning and prep my morning coffee, I began to hear sirens off in the distance, lots of them. They are fire trucks. After my fifteen years in the fire service, they are unmistakable to this veteran’s ears. It rattles me. After all, it is where the mental-health work injury, PTSD, came from.
At one time, hearing them responding to chaos would produce a flow of adrenaline and kick my passion for helping others into high gear. Now, they are replaced with fear, angst and a numbing dread. All produced by PTSD. Often times, it sends me into a mental-health crisis and holds me captive for the remainder of the day. For coping strategies for PTSD go here:
PTSD ASSOCIATION OF CANADA
The sound of sirens cutting through the silence of the early morning air evoke in me such a range of emotions. Not only does it produce feelings of body-numbing, anxiety, racing thoughts and fear, but it also makes me very angry, sad and lost. Perhaps the hardest feeling of all is the feeling of abandonment by those whom I believed to be my brothers and sisters of the service. The sound of sirens is an instant reminder of the sacrifices I made, the time lost with family, and the mental work-related injury.
” We must fight for our wellness.”
Moreover, they are an instant, PTSD-triggering reminder that I have essentially been left behind. So, I am angry on two fronts. Firstly, this intense feeling of being forgotten – and I am pissed because I love the fire service; it’s in my blood and will always be woven into the fabric of my being. Having this anger in my heart kills me because I knew that when those bay doors closed behind me for the last time, I knew that it was indeed the end. I am now a mere shadow of my former self and a distant memory by those I battled the beast with.
The mental-health work injury called PTSD has destroyed millions and disrupted the lives of those who have been touched by its symptoms. Yet, like all forms of mental illness, it goes unrecognized as a legitimate work-related injury.
Check out our MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES PAGE
I ask you, how is it different from any other injury? Its constant pain has, in my case, injured me to the degree that I am not able to work, and is managed by health care professionals. In addition, it also requires accommodation, symptom management.
Furthermore, it requires one to learn how to adapt their life to move on a passion they once were able to do with ease. Now replace mental illness with any physical injury – broken back, head injury etc. Now apply the requirements above to these physical injuries; symptom management, constant pain…. Again, I ask you, How are they different from any other injury? THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE. Wondering if you
Might have Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD?) check here Signs and symptoms of PTSD.
“I feel like a discarded garden, left to wither and die”.
You may also enjoy: PTSD: The Impact Of Stigma On Firefighters
Please note that if you think you may have PTSD, please contact your health care provider and talk to them. I highly recommend you request a referral to your mental health services.
There are also resources out there to help, organizations like Sick Not Weak, a non-profit dedicated to supporting persons with mental illness.
You may also enjoy: Spontaneous Mental Combustion
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