I know we communicated briefly the other day, but as I have watched momentum grow on your page, I felt like I needed to do something too. To not only support you, but to act.
May name is Ian, and I have PTSD. I was diagnosed approximately 4 ½ years ago. I am a full time firefighter / EMT in Alberta as well as a volunteer FF at home in Ontario.
I think that all the support being shown is just fantastic but I wanted to take it a step further. I wanted to send a message to all those who may be suffering in silence and say there is hope and it can get better!
The key is to break the silence. There is NO SHAME in admitting you need help. We see things that are not “normal”. We experience things that the average person hopefully never has to. It may not be just one thing. It may add up over time, it will be different for everyone.
For me, I know what my tipping point was. Out of respect for those involved, I am going to keep the details to myself. But I can assure you it had an immediate and life altering effect on me. I went to a really dark place. I isolated myself. I managed to get to work and back but that’s about all. I distanced myself from everyone. I relived that event over and over with a vivid reality that is hard to describe. It felt like nothing I’ve ever experienced and is even now hard to describe.
Triggers were everywhere, and sometimes it was hard to get through simple social situations because my mind had its own agenda.
It truly felt like there was no end to it, no light at the end of the tunnel, no way I’d ever get my mind straight again and that I was losing control of myself. That, my friends, is not a good place to be.
You can reach a place where you feel you have no choices and it’s too much.
But let me tell you this …….. YOU DO HAVE A CHOICE , AND IT CAN GET BETTER.
All it took was for me to say” I need help”.
I know we are all trained to do the helping, to be the one solving the problems. It’s in our blood. But let me tell you those three little words, I need help, are the most powerful words you have at your disposal!
All those people holding banners in all those pictures you’re seeing, they are your first line of defense and they mean what they are pledging.
For me, it was an officer involved in my incident who took the first step.
I wish I could remember her name because she truly deserves praise. She works for the Police force in London Ontario.
She took the time to do what all your fellow responders on this facebook page are pledging to do. She had my back. She recognized a need for help and called me in the days after my incident to make sure I was ok, and she hooked me up with their crisis team.
For some reason, we as people have a really hard time with those words, “I need help”. But if you can dig deep and say it, it can be life changing.
The people who know and love you WILL help you. They will listen. They will attempt to get you to the people who can really help you, and those people are out there. And it all starts with those three words…
Once you say it the first time, it gets easier, and you will open yourself to a world of people who want to do all they can for you. You will find friends you didn’t even realize cared about you as much as they do. You will allow yourself to take power over the situation and not let the situation hold power over you.
I’m not going to lie or sugar coat this.
It’s not easy.
Its going to take work.
There is no magic pill.
But it can and will get better!
I am not under any illusion that this will ever be 100% gone for me but I can tell you, it can be managed. You can do things to learn to cope, to take the intensity away. You can come out of this an even stronger person than you ever thought you could be! Its starts with those three words…. I NEED HELP
It’s quite emotional for me to write this as it brings back a lot of memories. But, if it helps one person stand up and say something, it’s worth it. I challenge more of you to do the same. Don’t let this be a faceless cause, people need to see the reaching effects it has. The only way we bring change is to speak up and make it real.
For those of you pledging help, back it up. People in need may have trouble coming to you. Watch for a change in your co-workers’ behavior. Don’t be afraid to take them aside and say, ”Hey buddy, can I help, let’s talk”.
Thanks for listening and I hope this helps the cause in some small way. I found the help I needed but more is required.
I would like to acknowledge those who helped me:
My family, who stuck with me even though there were some hard days.
My close friends, they know who they are.
My wife, Kristy, who continues to be an unbelievable support.
My friend , Dr Esther Goldberg.
Dr Paul Wadden.
Dr Keith Thompson.
Lt Pat Duggan, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Emergency Services.
Wendy and the rest of Family Services Thames Valley.
Urgent Mental Health at LHSC.
And finally those of you who came to me with your own stories and struggles…..It made a difference.
Nothing is solved by silence……….
Firefighter LT / EMT-A
For more on this topic, read Keara’s blog, Who is taking care of those who take care of us?
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