I was your typical firefighter, tough and in denial. I knew my injury was getting worse, but I wasn’t about to tell anyone that…Until PTSD made it, so it was do or die. In fact, I knew it years before the diagnosisTweet
I would be lying to you all if I said I don’t think about my years in the fire service. Heck. as hard as I might try to deny it, I can’t even lie to myself. I miss it, some days more than others. Regardless of how intense the desire may be, the feeling is always there. I have my suspicions that a piece of me will always want to go toe to toe with the big red beast.
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However, the beast inside, the monster called PTSD , will never allow that want to be realized again. Besides, as much as I love the fire service, I hate it too…While this is the case, I feel like they run parallel with one another, rather than being a true contradiction.
In other words, I can feel both at the same time. Trust me, I know full well that my place is on the veteran list and not on the attendance sheet. A reality that I have only recently learned to be okay with. For if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that if I am to recover, I must be completely honest with myself.
“I had to get the truth out of myself”
When I first became symptomatic with PTSD, I knew it years before the diagnosis, and yet, I thought I could muscle my way through it. Let me tell ya, “current John” wishes he would have tapped out long ago. I can’t help but feel I would have been in a much better place.
But – it’s true what they say, it is what it is. I’m glad I see it that way now, I’m glad I made it out alive, bashed and bruised, but alive.
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Where I put my energy.
Today, my thoughts turn to those who now walk in the same bunker boots I wore – metaphorically speaking of course. I know there are many, holding it in, manning up and taking it home with them.
Me as 1st Company Lieutenant
Read, Emergency Service PTSD
Not only am I certain that this is the case, but I also know that many of them must know it too. Feeling heavy, brain-fogged and useless during or after a call? Time to get help. You may man-think you can handle the stress that is accumulating. Truth is, you have no real way of knowing, until itls nearly too late or you are injured to the degree that you have no choice but to leave your chosen service.
From my point of view, it’s better to seek the help of a mental-health care professional now before your mental strength is depleted to a degree that you can no longer get on the rig. Truly, early intervention is key for many.
Even though I knew it years before the diagnosis, I now know I waited waaaay too long… So please, don’t become me, living in a hell fire of nightmares, flashbacks, and an inability to tolerate the wider world’s noise and seemingly inconsiderate actions that produce, what is, to my brain, assaults on my feelings of safety and security. It really is a long way back down the road to mental wellness.