I loved being a firefighter! From helping those in need to the rush I got from the tones when they went off, like an adrenaline junkie, I soaked it all up.
Looking back on it now, it was the only time I felt positive. Like I was capable of something greater than myself.
However, all that would change as my years of service crept towards my collision with PTSD. Eventually, the adrenaline rush subsided, and the numbing power of trauma ruled Supreme.
Looking back on it now, it’s not hard to see why. It’s clear to me now that my trauma was built around chaos. A slow, and painful demise that has incarcerated my mental wellness and makes my everyday daunting.
I hate noise. I fear crowds and my ability to cope is, well, it’s just not there. However, I am grateful for the seemingly normal days – days where nothing bothers me, and I feel ten feet tall and bulletproof.
“What the hell happens between my ears that makes the symptoms disappear?” Man, if I had a dollar for every time I asked this question, I’d be rich.
Furthermore, what am I doing that is different? I have no idea. The only things I’ve come up that made these days awesome, or at least what I could come up with were:
- I finally had a great night’s sleep.
- I have had sufficient time away from the stimulus and therefore, am well-rested and thus, better able to cope.
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And then…… there is the rest of the time. I could ask myself a similar question, “What the hell happens between my ears that makes the symptoms make life so unbearable?” However, I don’t. For one thing, it is pointless, and better if I focus on the now. But there is another reason.
Simply put, I already know. Well, in the sense that I can simplify the origins of my illness. So, let me sum it up in one sentence: my trauma was built around chaos.
Now, to understand what I mean by this sentence, I need to explain a bit more. Firstly, my mental illness journey started when I was a boy – a time when I had no idea what mental illness was. But I sure expressed it.
While I wasn’t diagnosed with major depressive disorder until I was in my forties, I have a suspicion that depression was the illness I was expressing. And as if that weren’t enough, I am confident that generalized anxiety disorder came into my life when I was in my teens. I know, sucks!
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Even though I was oblivious to what was causing the chaos in my life at the time, I would manage these two disorders. I had friends, attended parties, and went to school every day. I just felt “sad” about it – every second of every day, it seemed.
But….. What came next, the disorder that would change the trajectory of my life was/is post-traumatic stress disorder, commonly known as PTSD.
Since my being diagnosed in 2019, the curtain was drawn, my world was shattered, and my mind was stolen from me. And as if that weren’t enough, overtime, the debilitating disorder would cause easy exhaustion and random, idiopathic pain.
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Oh, and let’s not forget about the lack of sleep, nightmares when I do, and the high startle response. Of course, there are many other symptoms, but these are the ones that refuse to let me go. Despite this fact, I soldier on.
Finally, this brings us to the source of the PTSD. For starters, it doesn’t take an experienced firefighter to imagine that the job comes with an extreme amount of chaos. Equally true, is the sad reality of death and injury.
So, there you have it, the reason why my trauma was built around chaos. After fifteen years in service to my community, this chaos simply caught up with me. I guess it’s true: not everyone walks away unscathed.
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