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Still certain i am to blame

Discussion in 'Military & Emergency Services' started by Tim_Holgate, Mar 27, 2018.

  1. Tim_Holgate

    Tim_Holgate Member

    Its two years tomorrow since everything went wrong for me. I know nothing that day could happen differently in the circumstances given, and it was just a series of events that led to someone dying. I still blame everything that happened on me as the rescue dive team leader. I cant look myself in the mirror without seething in resentment, I get periods where I feel everybody hates me so I don't go out and about half of the nightmares end with everything being my fault. Im not even sure if this is PTSD related or if its just guilt. my therapist is at her wits end with this issue (there are others) and i don't know what i can do to stop this feeling. Anybody have any recommendations?
    shimmerz, blackemerald1 and Mee like this.
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  3. littleoc

    littleoc Making everywhere I go a better place Premium Member Donated

    I wish I did, but I don't. But I'm replying so you know I don't hate you and that even if you think it was your fault I still won't blame you, because I can tell that you wouldn't be like that.

    Hugs, if you accept
    Mytime, blackemerald1, Zoogal and 2 others like this.
  4. scout86

    scout86 I'm a VIP Premium Member Donated

    It can be really hard to let yourself off the hook. It would be nice to believe that there's always a version of reality that has a happy ending, if we could only get it "right". I mean that, it really would be nice, wouldn't it? But the version of reality I live in? Sadly there are times when things go wrong, no matter how hard you try.

    My T says the difference between guilt (which he thinks is useful) and shame (which he's not a fan of) is that with guilt, the thought is "I made a mistake". From that, you learn and do better. Shame is more like "I AM a mistake". Hard to do much with that.

    You can know that in your head and not accept it in your heart. But it's ok to accept it. What would you tell your best friend if they were in your situation?

    And, yeah, this is probably a PTSD related thing. (I don't hate you either.)
  5. Freida

    Freida Been There, Done That, Lived to Tell the Story Premium Member

    I think part of ptsd is the feeling of undeserved guilt. Or maybe it's shame that doesn't belong masquerading as guilt?

    Either way -- neither of these feelings belong to you. You are not to blame. Sometimes things just go wrong - no matter how hard you try, how well you plan, how hard you work. It happens to a lot of us from emergency services and military backgrounds. We never remember the ones we save - only the ones we lost. And we will blame ourselves. Because we take pride in what we do and we simply can't accept that sometimes shit just happens. Fate steps in and changes the outcome no matter what we do to fight it off. And there isn't a damn thing we can do.

    And I think we will always second guess - long after we are cleared by the investigators. They say "oh not your fault" after keeping you in limbo for however long the investigation took, and then its just...over. Move on to the next rescue, the next call, the next arrest, the next battle. But people don't work that way. Especially people who are knee deep in it. You can't just forget and pretend it didn't happen.

    How do you stop the feelings? By doing what you are doing. Acknowledging that they are bothering you and talking them out with those who have been there and done that.The best option would be reaching out to the people that were on the team with you so they can smack you upside the head and tell you that you did the best you could with what you had. Call it a long overdue debriefing where they can remind you that they don't blame you. Or - come here and I can do it for them.

    You can go back over it until it makes you crazy but you can't change the outcome. None of us can. Sometimes God says come and the person we are working our asses off to save dies anyway. And that sucks. But it doesn't make it your fault. You don't get to carry the blame for something dictated by fate. And that is the real pisser. Learning to live with something you couldn't control-- like fate.
  6. enough

    enough Well-Known Member

    you don't say if it was a team member or an accident victim that didn't make it. I can only relate to accident victims that didn't survive. I don't know if saying I have lots of experience with that makes me a good source of help or lowers the general opinion of me as a first responder and thus the value of my advice.

    I have seen the aftermath of a lost officer and how it was handled (not well by most) and how in the end, it made the people that carried the guilt better officers that were able to see that rule 1 applies to everyone, and that no one escapes rule 2. (1, people get hurt in dangerous professions, 2, no one can stop rule 1).

    time is the healer, time with a good therapist is time well spent. Just a general overview hit and run piece of advice: start with the small truths and work up. Nothing could have been different, you couldn't have made things different, things happened (rule 1) and it's not your fault that it wasn't stopped (rule 2).

    I carry those ghosts around too. they get quieter but you cant make them go away and in the end mix, you don't need to. it's like the day you got stuck in a rainstorm. you got wet, you dried out, you remembered rain gear more times than you might have otherwise after that.
  7. Tim_Holgate

    Tim_Holgate Member

    It was someone who was normally on the team but not on that callout as he was the person involved. In my line (cave diving rescue and search and rescue) im pretty good with dealing with death and bodies and Im guessing thats why this one messed me up so much
  8. scout86

    scout86 I'm a VIP Premium Member Donated

    That seems like it would be extra hard to deal with because it was someone you knew.
  9. Tim_Holgate

    Tim_Holgate Member

    I have always had rule 1 and also sods law (whatever can go wrong will go wrong) and I've always believed in both as strongly as I believe that the Earth is round, but even with these I cant shake it
  10. Justmehere

    Justmehere Defying the odds Moderator Premium Member

    Survivors guilt can be a hard thing to wrestle down. You are not alone in this.

    In a different way, I hold a lot of feelings of guilt for several traumatic events that many have said isn't my fault. I still can't let go.

    My therapist recently asked me, what is the "benefit" of holding on to the guilt? It was a really hard question to be asked. She is not implying that holding on is really actually beneficial, but self blame is a defense mechanism, a maladaptive coping skill. For me, the "benefit" to my self blame is that I don't have to admit I was helpless to stop it. I hate feeling helpless.

    I'm not in your shoes, but I get the sense that you wanted to save people, keep them alive. Maybe it's hard to face the reality that you were helpless to stop them from dying?

    I also could be totally off the map, and if so, disregard.

    I hope you find some relief from the self blame soon.
  11. Sweetleaf

    Sweetleaf Well-Known Member

    (first I'm going to say this: I'm kinda sleep deprived right now so I only read the original post, sorry if this was already recommended or shot down or anything like that)

    We have different types of trauma but, I think just repeating the lines of logic which dictate it isn't your fault, when you're struggling with it, can really help. Break it down into logic that you can't really argue with, or have someone else do that for you. Then, keep repeating it.

    I have a lot of issues with blaming myself for what happened, and feeling like I allowed it to happen. Multiple times now I've had my therapist reason it out with me why it isn't my fault that my trauma happened. Part of me doesn't want to agree that it's not my fault, even while talking it out with her, but talking it out reduces my bad feelings on the matter, and repeating that it's not my fault, and why it's not my fault, helps me not feel as bad about it all. I don't know if I can ever get rid of the piece of me that doesn't want to forgive myself for letting that happen, at least completely.
  12. Tim_Holgate

    Tim_Holgate Member

    I dont know. I havent been properly effected (other than temporary issues) by other recoveries, where if anything i was even more helpless because they were dead when we got there. But yeah, it could be as I absoloutley hate being helpless in any situation. My therapist thinks its also a self defence strategy but feels she hasn't got to the bottom of it yet as I really struggle to talk about this issue, especially in person.
  13. Tim_Holgate

    Tim_Holgate Member

    I carry a plastic card in my wallet with exactly what happened on the day written down but it just doesnt seem to work anymore
    blackemerald1 and littleoc like this.
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