Even though I was able to defeat the demon within, at least for now, I was still left with “why did it happen?” My therapist tells me that trying to figure out its source is irrelevant; it’s more important that I focus on the “now,” and working on ways to reduce its grip. By using therapeutic techniques like mindfulness I can get through most mental health-related incidents. But not always.
Having spent years in the fire service, I am primed to act, not just sit like some sort of spectator.
Despite what the therapist tells me, I have made it my life’s work to overthink and find solutions for everything that runs through my head. Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to obsess or consume my time trying to find its source. Rather, it found me. Usually uncovering the answer provides me with some relief – but not in this case.
So then, what set my anxiety ablaze? The answer is simple. Covid! Covid-19. It’s everywhere, and the fear it produces burrows its way into my head and becomes all-consuming. This virus is much more than a two-week fad on social media, In fact, it has been quoted as being the new normal, at least for the forseeable future.
I am anxious, not because of my anxiety disorder itself, but because my PTSD has rendered me useless.
If I were to be more specific about the source of my episode with angst, I would have to say that I’m impacted by two things. Firstly, I must confess that I am constantly being triggered by the bombardment of updates; the news constantly fuels my mental-illness fire. Post-traumatic stress disorder hates this sort of stuff.
Secondly, I am and always will be a helper. Thankfully, I am still able to help others in the capacity of a mental-health blogger and advocate, which I am grateful for. However, I am primed to act in times like these. My many years as a firefighter have conditioned me to be this way. Making order out of chaos is our specialty. Sadly, in my mind, these two factors have rendered me useless.
In addition, my years working in long-term care saw their own moments of turmoil. There have been many times in my career where my colleges and I have gone toe-to-toe with a virus or two. Mentally taxing and physically exhausting, it was all-out war. We did our best to tend to the sick and tried to isolate people the best we could.
Looking back on my life, I see I had made a career out of combating the worst of the worst. Sure, it pales in comparison to what the world is going through now in terms of scale. Nonetheless, my years putting my own mental and physical health on the line to help others gives me a glimpse into what is happening around the world. For me, it’s not hard to see why my anxiety was so high.
Not being able to help is my new normal.
I can only conclude that today, I am anxious, not because of my anxiety disorder itself, but because of my PTSD. It has rendered me useless in our darkest time of need. That is a very hard reality to accept. When you couple that with the stress of knowing what it’s like, working in these trenches, I can’t help but worry about my former colleagues, my family and my friends. Please, be safe, everyone.
I also can’t help but think of people who are in the same boat as me. They are the former firefighters, paramedics, nurses and doctors who have been injured by their jobs and now watch from afar – stricken with a life-long affliction with trauma andfighting it now more than ever. I salute you!
With that said, we can still do our part to stop the spread of Covid; we can do this by following the rules of social distancing, washing our hands and isolating ourselves if need be. Literally, the less we do, the more help we will be. In these most uncertain times, this is how we minimize the chaos and serve our communities.
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Contact: The Road To Mental Wellness