You can’t ignore PTSD.Tweet
You can’t ignore PTSD
In our society, we tend to think that we are failures if life takes us off our planned path. But are we really failures? I’d like to make the argument that when life takes us off course, we can forge a new way forward.
When I was a firefighter, I pushed myself well beyond my mental abilities, thinking I could just shake off the traumatic events I witnessed and get back on the rig for the next call.
I suppose this myth I was telling myself worked for a while, or so I had thought. Turns out that I was not coping at all; I was, in fact, doing more and more damage.
When the time came that my mental strength was all but exhausted, I felt defeated, like I had failed. After all, none of my colleagues seem to be having this issue. On the day I resigned, I felt like a complete and utter failure. To add to this perceived failure, was this head-to-toe feeling of weakness and shame.
A double whammy
Who knew that pushing through my mental pain would be such a bad idea? I really wish I had known at the time; it may have saved the rest of my life from coming unravelled. However, my reality has been forged by the fact that I didn’t know.
Due to my decisions to keep fighting on with no regard for my mental health, I lost. My feelings of failure were compounded by the fact that I had recognized my illness too late. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that I pushed it down and packed my trauma so tight that it finally snapped.
Whichever was the case, the mental pain of my fire service days had leached into every facet of my life. This sad reality I faced would include my work life too.
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Making my living as a health-care worker was not an easy one, to say the least. I had witnessed some pretty traumatic incidents there too. While this was also my reality, the cornerstone for my PTSD, without question, stemmed from the fire service.
Regardless, I had mentally bled out for far too long and before I knew it, my mistaken resilience crumbled under the weight of my mental illness. Only a few short years after calling it quits as a volunteer firefighter, I would find myself making an exit from my workplace as well – proving that you can’t ignore PTSD, that it will indeed, get you in the end.
Is failure such a bad thing?
While I thought for years after I left the service that I had failed at everything I loved, I’m happy to say that I was wrong. Failure is just a conduit for success so long as you keep moving forward. Doing what I have to do, has been slowly leading me down the road to mental wellness and as a result, I have discovered new passions along the way.
When every aspect of my life went off the rails, I turned to writing in a desperate attempt to sort out what was going on inside my head. Consequently, a new passion was ignited – a love for writing.
You can’t ignore PTSD; this is true – but if you are manning up, shoving it down or in just plain old denial, please know that when PTSD becomes too much, there is life after the military or emergency services. Failure is an option as long as you understand this: PTSD or any mental illness is not something you choose to have and secondly: as humans, we are gifted with the ability to discover other passions. So, in that regard, no matter what we go through in life, we can always find something that gives us back our love for life.
Keep moving forward.
If you are struggling, please go here for help: Crisis Services Canada