How to overcome unsurmountable odds.Tweet
Over the years, I’ve had my fair share of going head-to-head with the heat of the fire ground. And looking back on those days, I count my blessings that I came home alive. Furthermore, I am proud of my contribution to the department and to my community. It has provided me with so many valuable learning experiences that no amount of money could buy.
With all that aside, there are those out there who think that putting yourself in harm’s way is heroic; truthfully, most firefighters will tell you that they don’t see themselves as heroes. I myself happen to be one of those. To me and many others in the service, we are simply doing what we signed up to do. Even though this is what we truly believe, it’s hard to argue that it takes a certain amount of courage to perform the duties asked of you in the emergency services.
I don’t think there’s any question, even to the layperson, that emergency-service workers see things no one should really see. Indeed, the tragic side of humanity can be level 10 in intensity. Many in the services try to suppress this intensity – often-times winding up with the mental health injury, PTSD in the process.
I often refer to post-traumatic stress disorder as the disorder that keeps on giving because it’s never-ending; its torturous effects are hard on not only the mind and body but on everyone who surrounds you, whom you love and care for.
As if that weren’t enough, those who succumb to their injuries end up being the forgotten, the discarded and the misunderstood. This can be especially tough because from the time you enter the service, you’re often reminded of just how much of a brother- and sister-hood it is. Sadly, like so many other organizations, the love can be conditional. Oftentimes, with mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress occur, they can see you exiled from the family.
Like some sickly newborn animal, discarded by its family at birth, we may get left in the wilderness to fend off what is essentially unsurmountable odds, all on our own.
So, in an attempt to overcome these unsurmountable odds, I have endeavored to bring awareness to not only the services, but also to the wider world and loved ones – who can have a hard time grasping our reality.
With that said, it is unrealistic for people in our position to assume that the world around us, including our one-time colleagues, can totally understand what they are witnessing or experiencing from a person with PTSD.
In my opinion, at the end of the day, all you can do is seek out like-minded folk who have a better grasp on what goes on inside the mind of the traumatic brain. Furthermore, the reality is, that to a large degree and probably for most of our lives, we will indeed be left in the wild to fend for our very survival.
I feel this way simply because no matter how supportive people are, it’s still a lonely and dreadful road to mental wellness. However, like back in the days where we worked ourselves to exhaustion to minimize the damage of chaos, and loss of life, we must work to absolute exhaustion to minimize the odds of a personal tragic outcome. Where at one time, getting to the belly of the beast meant extinguishing flames, for us it now stands for extinguishing our own fires. PTSD is the fuel that keeps the seemingly eternal flame burning within our minds.
We may not all have the support we were expecting, nonetheless, we have each other.
Yes, our scenarios may be fraught with unsurmountable odds, but that does not mean we should give up, nor should we not dream of better days to come. Success should be measured in inches, not miles, and small achievements some days are the largest accomplishments. Please know, we are now the new brother- and sister-hood, that of the PTSD clan. While it’s true that you may feel alone, you are not. Together we can beat these unsurmountable odds.
If you are struggling, please go here for help: Crisis Services Canada