Love and to loathe

The emergency services: it really is something to both love and loathe.

Jonathan Arenburg
Jonathan Arenburg

Jonathan is a mental health blogger, published author, and speaker. He has appeared in numerous newspapers and has been a guest on many podcasts.

I would be lying if I said that waking up every day with PTSD wasn’t a monumental challenge. It also would be accurate to say that, at some moments, I loathe the choices I’ve made. Sometimes, I feel like I walked down the wrong road when I signed the dotted line and joined the fire service. So, that’s why I both Love and to loathe the fire service.

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While it’s true, there are times when my blood boils with regret for doing so, I know deep down in my heart of hearts that I was part of something great. I don’t hate that bit. But still, it’s slowly morphed itself over the years into the very definition of a love-hate scenario.

With that said, my thoughts branch off to other sub-categories. For instance, I often think about the old saying: “one person can’t make a difference.” I disagree. For it depends on the scale in which you are talking.

For example, if you are a firefighter in any small community, one’s efforts can and often do have a monumental impact. All it takes is the will, the determination and the love to want to help. I have met countless people in the service who have all of these qualities.

How to make a difference in your community

I had recently met a fire chief who ran a station in a small community and does so on a very small budget. Yet, despite this, he is pouring his heart and soul into the building, into the equipment and its members. He was and is working his guts out to better his community.

Sadly however, the wider community, regardless of its location, cannot fully grasp the enormous sacrifices that are made by both paid and volunteer personnel on their behalf. It is for this reason, I think anyone in the emergency services are nothing short of amazing….. I thank you so much.

This is the element of the service that I was and am still proud of. Those individuals who sacrifice their family time, their work time, hobbies and in tons of cases, their own health. Whether you were paid or not, there are real risks associated with running into an inferno or extricating someone from a vehicle on a dark, rain-soaked highway. While we are lucky that there are people who give their all, those working themselves to exhaustion on countless occasions…? It does real damage.

Read: Carbon Monoxide And PTSD.

Specifically, I feel like exhaustion plays a significant role in first responders’ mental health. And as if that weren’t enough, the constant barrage of unspeakable and unique tragedies accumulate, making the two combined a recipe for disaster.

How to remain healthy while being a first responder

So, it’s not too hard to fathom why I both love and loathe the service. I know first-hand how utterly amazing the contribution of a few people is. A few in a community of many. They really do make a difference. But like in all things, there is a price to pay for some. The cost? PTSD. I wish with every fibre of my being that the images burned into my soul could be obliterated, but they can’t. However, setting my heart and mind free will always be the goal I put in front of me.

Front and back cover of the road to mental wellness - 8 sings your relationship is hurting your mental health.
Find out more below – Written for therapeutic release, published in hopes it helps you.

I don’t have to like my symptoms and the unique scenarios they present. In fact, I can even hate them. What I can’t do is reject my efforts, my passion and love for the fire service. I did my part, and I am proud of my sacrifice and contribution.

Thankfully, despite this constant tug-of-war going on inside me, the love, the gratitude, and the honour to have served my community, always outweigh the darker aspects of the service.

Finally, I see PTSD as a devastating force in my life – but thankfully, I also see it as something I’ve earned with distinction. I may have forever altered my health but when I look back, I know it made a difference.

Truly, someone has to do it. And those of us who suffer a mental health injury and succumb to it as a result, deserve so much more than fading into casual conversation around the station and never to be engaged with again.

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I know for many of my colleagues this can be difficult, but all I will say is this: being forgotten by those you risked your life with, spent countless hours training beside and helping both in and out of the station…when they stop talking to you, their wounded colleague, it only serves to further devour who you define yourself as. For us, it feels like a building fully-engulfed in flames; it’s not only isolating but it’s an utter and total loss.

Please know that there is an entire community of those with mental health injuries from all branches of services who are here and will be here for you to help re-define your purpose, try to minimize your isolation and do what they can, so that you feel supported and part of something bigger than yourself. Please…. Reach out.

If you are struggling please go here for help: Crisis Services Canada

OR

Checkout our Mental Health Resources Page

Love and to loathe

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Jonathan Arenburg

Jonathan Arenburg is a mental health blogger, S speaker, writer, and published author; He is also the host of the mental wellness podcast, #thewellnesstalksHe has also appeared in the i'Mpossible's Lemonade Stand III. He has also been a contributing writer for Mental health talk, a column in his local paper. In addition, he has also written for the mental health advocacy organization; Sick Not Weak.Jonathan has also appeared on several mental health-related podcasts Including: A New Dawn, The Depression Files, Books and Authors, and Men Are Nuts. Since being put off work because of PTSD, Jonathan has dedicated his time to his mental wellness journey while helping others along the way.Educated as an addictions' counsellor, he has dedicated most of his professional life of eighteen years, working with those who have intellectual disabilities, behavioural challenges, and mental illness.He has also spent fifteen years in the volunteer fire service helping his community.His new book (2021), “The Road To Mental Wellness,” goes into detail about his life-long battle with depression, anxiety and more recently, PTSD. In it, he hopes to provide insight on how mental illness cultivates over a lifetime and, if not recognized and treated, how it impacts the entirety of one's life; right from childhood into the adult years. Jonathan lives with his two children in Nova Scotia, Canada.

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