Love and Loath

Love and loath

The emergency services; it really is something to both love and loath.

Before you reading, Love and loath, I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who has supported The Road To Mental Wellness, your contributions keep me going….. Thank you! Any donations are greatly appreciated. To donate, please click the donate button below

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.

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 even still, its 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; that 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 in the 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 scant 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, they’re 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 opccasionsin does something to does real damage.

Read: Carbon Monoxide And PTSD.

Specifically, I feel like exhaustion plays a significant role in first responders’ mental health. And 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 loath the service. I know first hand how truly amazing the contributions 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, they can’t. However, setting my heart and mind free will always be the goal I put in front of me.

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 though, 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.

Love and loath
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com – Love and loath

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 for 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.

Listen to others talk about their mental health journey at A New Dawn.

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 hang in there! We, the mentally injured have our own community. If in Nova Scotia and have PTSD from being in any branch of service, or planning to come to Novas Scotia, please check out these amazing peer support facilities below.

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 redefine 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.

Checkout the book I helped to write:

Lemonade Stand: Vol. III 

20 authors from the military and emergency services tell their story of PTSD.

Order today

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

OR

Checkout our Mental Health Resources Page

Contact me on my Facebook page: The Road To Mental Wellness

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Putting out my own fires

Putting out my own fires

I admit, I suck at putting out my own fires. How good are you at self-care?

I answered my last alarm a few years back and ever since then, I have been putting out my own fires. This time, I am battling blazes that threaten to consume my mind and myself in my entirety.

At first, I hated that I was too “weak” to fend off a little thing like PTSD, I sure as hell, so I thought, had defeated bigger monsters in my life; this beast would be easy to slay, right? Man, did I ever pay a price for that silly assumption.

Fortunately for me, I saw the wall I was hurling towards at top speed. Thankfully, this gave me time to abandoned my foolish ways before I became yet another tragic statistic.

Putting out my own fires
Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

Even though I narrowly escaped a socially acceptable, yet mythical norm; that of plowing through every ounce of mental pain, I was, however, left with permanent injuries, ones I can now not ignore.

How to recognize PTSD

You know that old saying? That ignorance is bliss? Well, not in my case, had I not worked on putting out my own fires, my world could have been destroyed by my own ignorance. Turns out, that what you don’t know can hurt you. Whether you want to see it or not, it is still there.

While it’s true that I hoped that the tragic events imprinted on my memory would somehow dissolve over time, wrong! If that weren’t enough, I am also a helper by nature. This disposition is, by default one that sees people like myself at the bottom of their, “to take care of list.”

Want to read more! Check out I CAME ALIVE AT THIRTY-FIVE.

This approach is, in my view ridiculous. Why? Because running on empty all the time leaves you drained, lonely and unfulfilled as a person. Not After all, we love helping others, it’s what drives us but without self-care, we can’t reap the benefits of our work. At least, this has been my experience.

The Road To Mental Wellness is made possible in part by readers like you… thank you for your support.

In conclusion, putting out our own fires needs to be the priority. Think of it this way. Militaries all over the world have learned that they must condition their troops. So, on the level of the individual, they must be in peak shape to do their job. In other words, they must look after themselves first. And so too should we.

Checkout the book I helped to write:

Lemonade Stand: Vol. III 

Created by Josh Rivedal and Kathleen Myre, Lemonade Stand: Vol. III is a compilation of 20 stories from those who have served in the emergency services and the military.  In it, the authors talk about their battles with PTSD, a debilitating and for many, a life-long mental illness.  So, if you are from the military or emergency service’s, perhaps this book can help you combat the feelings of isolation and fear that frequently comes with post-traumatic stress disorder. Sometimes, just knowing that there are others out there, just like you, can provide you with the strength and courage to speak up and or get the help you need.

The intention of this book is to help with that…. You’re not alone. Also, Lemonade Stand: Vol III was written to help combat the stigma that often accompanies mental illness, best of all, it attempts to give all you served their countries and communities a voice… Which is amazing!

Lemonade Stand
Pre order today

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

OR

Checkout Our Mental Health Resources Page

Contact me on my Facebook page: The Road To Mental Wellness