Retired FF depressed, ptsd

  • Thread starter Retired FF/Medic
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Retired FF/Medic

I retired a couple years ago and was seeing a therapist and psychiatrist at the time. I was diagnosed with PTD, depression, anxiety. The therapy only made things worse and I quit going after about 2 years of only feeling like I wanted death every day of my life. Since I retired I havent been able to function very well in society and have cut off all my fire dept friends and avoid the fire stations and will turn if I see a truck on the road. I live in the same city I worked in and grew up in. Since a child my parents would cut people out of their lives when they disagreed with them. I now just cut everything out of my life.

I was recently told, after taking several tests, Im on the autism spectrum...Since I was a kid I would see numbers on billboards, tv, license plates and the numbers/letters would begin to be calculated in different ways in my head and I didnt really control it and couldnt stop it. I would complain to my mom and she would just tell me Im smart ( i was nicknamed human calculator in one class and human dictionary in another) but I always watched people how the processed differently than me I would try to fit in by watching and acting like other people but I never learned how to communicate and talk about normal stuff. I never really fit in anywhere. I hated social gatherings and would only go out if I could drink before so I could loosen up.

I always feel out of place even in my own home. my own skin.

Im still depressed and hate my life. I hate myself. My mind attacks me all day. It tells me Im worthless, I deserve to die, I dont deserve to eat, I dont deserve to breathe. I dont want to kill myself but dont want to live. I dont speak with my parents and my brother who was my only friend just got married and moved away. Im miserable every day. My wife just ignores me and acts like Im perfectly fine and nothing is wrong with me. She cant engage negative emotions.


Welcome to the forum and congratulations on your retirement. 🏆 That's a lot of years taking care of everyone else. Huh? Now, it's time to take care of you. It's gonna suck and take all the courage you can muster. Lol. But you're worth it! Even though PTSD likes to tell you different. You. Are. Worth. It.

As much as I love this place and the support it gives, maybe reaching out to a new trauma therapist or a first responder group would be more beneficial to you right now?? Keep coming here because this place "gets it". And we need all the help we can get around here, too. 😉

Sending support your way.


Welcome, glad you found the forum. You are in the right place for findng support for all you shared about. Grateful you have not ended up a statistic of your profession.

Yes therapy makes us feel worse before we feel better. But findng a trauma therapist might be more beneficial for you. And something in you is wanting you to find support and help.

Grateful you took a chance and posted here. Stick around, read around the forum. Bet you will find feelings that you relate to if not always the specifics.

Agan, Welcome.


New Here
PTSD getting worse is absolutely normal as we age, suffer health issues, and retire. What you are experiencing is normal in most ways. Once you accept that, find a support group of peers, a non-judgmental counselor and vent your frustrations on paper as an exercise for yourself. Gung ho military, police, and fire personnel all suffer from the stigma of PTSD being treated as a personal failing rather than the accumulated stress that goes with the territory of those careers. It is not your fault that the FD is behind the times like others, in failing to acknowledge, or address this affliction.

Part of my cathartic healing process was doing volunteer work and activism to get out of my own head. Later as I strengthened, I started working on Veterans issues, and more recently PTSD and Moral Injury recovery issues. The Pandemic tragically shut down our group meetings, but they are going virtual now.

YOU are in charge of your future. After decades of service, you deserve a dignified retirement with the appreciation of your loved ones and community. Most of them have no idea what we go through in the PTSD journey and may respond with kindness once they realize that they are part of the solution. This is the beginning of a new journey and challenge in your life. You went into your craft BECAUSE you could handle those challenges. You are still that person underneath the damage done. Celebrate that and make it your new retirement superpower. Best wishes. Denny

PS...I am into my 49th year of PTSD management and only a recent student of Moral Injury as it relates to war. I was part of a massacre machine in 1972. I came out as angry and feeling betrayed as anyone I have known since. Thankfully, I come from a long line of stubborn people and have welcomed the challenge to manage PTSD on MY terms.
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I ended up leaving dispatch on disability after 23 years because my symptoms became unmanageable (combo of 911 and military crap) and it was a tough transition back to the real world and yep - I try to avoid all reminders of that past life.

It's taken a lot of therapy to get back to feel like a normal person again, because we as first responders don't really grasp how our view of the world gets so skewed and how that affects us. That whole thing about your brain attacking you is really, really common - its a way your brain is trying to cope but it doesn't have the right coping skills yet, ends up throwing you a bunch of negative garbage.

So ya, I'd suggest trying to find a trauma counselor and give it another try. I won't lie - it's going to be tough. Running into a burning building tough. But at the end of the day it will be worth it.


Hi @retired ff/medic I'm sorry for what your going through. It definitely sounds like terrible depression. Have you considered anti depressants? Did you used to have hobbies? Anything that helped your mood? It sounds like you need something in your life that brings you some relief.

Retired FF/Medic

Thanks for the responses.

During my therapy I was placed on a couple different anti-depressants and I only felt worse as I became cold to all emotions and felt like a robot. I do collect fruit trees but I have no joy in it anymore. I still garden and buy seeds of rare stuff when I can because I hope one day I'll appreciate what Ive done. But I just feel like everything is gray.

My depression comes in waves. It gets really bad. Sometimes I dont eat for days. I tell my wife I do. Ive lost about 25lbs in the past couple months.

My mind blocks out painful things by staying busy with many meaningless things. All I do is read and learn about things that interest me but I feel like Im a ghost just waiting to die now.

There is no feeling like I had being a firefighter. The adrenaline rush that comes with helping people. Sleeping in bed one minute and being in a burning building with your buddy 5 minutes later with ceiling falling on you and cant see one inch in front of your face.

I always had a hard time maintaining friendships as Im an introvert.

Now that Im retired everything that made the dept bearable is now gone and the pride that came with it. I just feel like an old piece of deffective equipment.

Ive changed. Im not the same person and dont like person that Ive evolved into. I just know too much about stuff most shouldnt. Experienced too much.

My wife works and my kids are in school and I have nothing but my thoughts. I want a job but probably couldnt handle one. I dont want to work anywhere near this city.

Most of my days are spent sitting on my couch or watering my plants. Ive left my house 3 times for myself since I retired, almost 2 years. Other than that its been just for groceries or eating out. I dont want anyone to see me. I dont feel like I deserve to be retired and dont deserve to be happy.


Welcome to the forum!

I've got the ptsd/depression combo, which is an absolute bitch to manage. I've tried a lot of meds, and a lot of therapies, and I hear you. It feels like it gets you no where...until it does.

Now that Im retired everything that made the dept bearable is now gone and the pride that came with it.

I have nothing but my thoughts.
Have you done any behavioural activation or ACT? If not, maybe something to pencil in at some time to possibly try out.

The depression, for me, makes being in my own head/thoughts constantly a really miserable existence. Behavioural activation is based in doing, rather than thinking, as a way to heal and just feel better.

For me, it paired up really well with ACT, which emphasises value-driven action (and other things, but for the purposes of this post, that's the part of ACT that I'm referencing) to help make life enjoyable, but also meaningful, again.

I've paired those 2 things together, and it's definitely helped keep my depression manageable, and get me out of my dark headspace. Doing more, as a matter of routine, and thinking less. And specifically, doing things that align with things I value.

Anyway, welcome to the forum. And sorry you have reason to be here.


I have a diagnosis of recurrent depression and a history of complex trauma. I was very isolated and suicidal. What helped me a great deal was going out to mental health groups. One of them is a walking group and another is just a get together for coffee and a chat. In a month's time a man's only group is starting in my city which I'm really looking forward to.

Maybe you can Google groups in your area. It really helps to get out because I know what it's like to be so isolated and depressed, not eating properly and ruminating on thoughts.


I realize this is an old thread. I came across it via google, and just set up an account.

Your words and the feelings behind them made me choke up. My husband is in a similar place.

I hope you are well, I hope you see this, and I hope you know you have value. And, as much as I know you guys hate to hear this, thank you so much for what you did.


Im still depressed and hate my life. I hate myself. My mind attacks me all day. It tells me Im worthless, I deserve to die, I dont deserve to eat, I dont deserve to breathe. I dont want to kill myself but dont want to live. I dont speak with my parents and my brother who was my only friend just got married and moved away. Im miserable every day. My wife just ignores me and acts like Im perfectly fine and nothing is wrong with me. She cant engage negative emotions.
This has got to feel like living hell. I am very sorry you are going through it.

A big part of looking at this may be - do you want it to change? If so, what would that look like? Do you want to play cards? Travel? Do you ever have a good day? Good moments? What are you doing at that time? Can you do it more?

This can be unlearned. I have seen it happen over and over again in real life. There are programs based on positive psychology that help rewire perspective - that may have been passed down from parents (as you suggest) without mindful critical thought. Maybe you just need to learn what you can like doing. Birdwatching? Woodworking? Higher education? Mental health recovery learning like the Copeland Centre WRAP. Peer support for other firefighters that are currently struggling?

Welcome here. I hope you are able to map a way out of the obvious pain you are in.