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Supporter Here.....looking For Insight, Fire Service

Discussion in 'Military & Emergency Services' started by Amack, Jan 18, 2017.

  1. Florian7051

    Florian7051 Well-Known Member

    ...I guess a little bit of both... deep down I knew I was washed up and I needed to retire, but I really couldn't conceive ever doing anything else, so I pushed myself passed the breaking point until there was no other option except forcible medical retirement. This is when my PTSD symptoms were at their worst. When I no longer had the safe haven of the firehouse and my brothers around me I really let myself go downhill. I was retired December 30th 2014 and since have been admitted to 3 inpatient programs 2 of which were for attempted suicide; I've also had to stay retired on the outside and focus my efforts to full time therapy Monday through Friday in an intense outpatient program.
    kddemt and tlc like this.
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  3. Mytime

    Mytime Well-Known Member

    My husband is also a FF still on the job. I don't know if I can add more then what has been said. Does he talk to you about work or calls?
    I'm here to support you with understanding. You can pm me anytime if you would like to talk and yes there is no support for spouses.
    But at least we have support here.
    Amack likes this.
  4. J'qel

    J'qel Well-Known Member

    I'm a daughter of someone who worked Emergency. She has other issues, but again, refuses to get help. She's retired and it's just .. bad, and my father has black chronic depression, he's medicated and better now, but it was pretty touch and go for several years.

    I understand the fear of reporting PTSD diagnosis while on the job, you're always worried about getting branded by your illness-losing your job, your colleagues, and all the rest. When my father reported and finally got help, they ended up passing him over for a promotion and started giving him awful jobs away from his co workers who almost entirely abandoned him, and saw him as "crazy".

    It's rough. My father chose to get help and is doing better, but I don't know if he would have chosen to get help if his then-boss hadn't noticed the symptoms and ordered him into therapy. It may be one of his bigger regrets, I'll never know because we still don't talk about some of his worse triggers (a certain individual was known to victimize and torment him for fun at his workplace-the man never did get called out for it).

    It's hard when your workplace isn't supportive. It's harder when the person who needs the help refuses it.

    I refused help until I broke down and my husband told me I had to. My life was pretty much a mess at the time and I'd reach my breaking point. It took breaking down in front of a stranger to make me realize how bad off I was.

    Perhaps he'll have a point of realization as well.

    Remember, as a supporter, you *do* need to take care of yourself as well. Make sure to take time to yourself to process and take breaks if you're overwhelmed. There are supporter services in many places for those who have spouses who have issues, if you can, I'd suggest looking for some in your area. If your husband is still upset about that, well there's a few online as well.

    *DO* take care of yourself, being a supporter is no picnic, and understand, you're not alone. <3
    kddemt, Amack and Mytime like this.
  5. What an amazing bunch of people you guys are. Not sure how this forum works - my partner is a FF and diagnosed 5 months ago. Symptomatic for 4 years. He's in his late 20s and ex-military except he hates both - military and firefighters. Talks a lot about bullying, bastardisation and power-play. Seems to hate men now and not trust anyone. He is angry a lot but never at me, he seems to direct it inward or at others (though not acting on it, if that makes sense, just seething). He has violent nightmares (I've been kicked and punched, inadvertantly, more than I can count!), chronic flashbacks (I see him get distracted at least every 2-3 minutes), is very, very hypervigilant and has passively suicidal thoughts.

    I really associate strongly with another spouse here - I'm an optimistic person and feeling as pessimistic about it can be so crushing. We have only been together a couple years, no kids. I cant help but feel my friends think i should run away before it gets inescapable. I dont want to - i love him like crazy. The most crushing thing is seeing the pain and self-loathing he experiences. He tries so hard, every day. He has just started EMDR but says he's only doing it to placate me. I'm terrified he'll feel too pressured and resent me but I've heard it works and I know it won't "cure" him - I'm just hoping for symptom abatement and to turn down the pain for him, if only a little bit.

    I don't even know if I have a question, to be honest. I mean, I have so many questions!

    How do spouses cope when they're dissociating or silently seething? It's so hard to just "go with it". I can't escape the feeling that he stays with me because it's the path of least resistance. He talks about wanting to "vanish" and become a spirit. Will it only just get worse? Sometimes I feel silly for staying but I simply have no desire to go - I adore him. It makes no sense. Anyone understand? Sorry and thanks so much for reading.
    Buttercup likes this.
  6. FragileGlass

    FragileGlass Active Member

    'I was simply wondering how he is doing well at work and comes home and is a wreck. '

    I don't work as firefighter but work in a busy Emergency Department on the security team. It's the adrenaline from the fast paced diverse events we deal with. I personally find for 12 hour shifts I run on an Adrenaline high for the entire shift. No one would ever suspect or know how terrified I am which also adds additional adrenaline that my body is producing. Kinda like preparing for a bungee jump off a bridge combining it with the emotionally charged event I am dealing with. The fear is an extra kick of adrenaline. It keeps you moving and focused. If that makes sense.

    By the time I reach my car at end of shift I physically crash pretty hard because all that heightened stimulation is not needed but still pumping. It's almost like a mood swing. That's when self assessment kicks in, 'did i make the right choices?', 'could i have been hurt?'

    I hope that helps a little.
    Buttercup likes this.
  7. Simply Simon

    Simply Simon Be Bold. Moderator Premium Member Sponsor $100+

    You would probably find a far more receptive audience and focused responses in our supporter section.
  8. teneighty

    teneighty New Member

    10 years disaster relief and first response stuff... over here we have FF doing the fast response and if it either gets out of hand or they have exhausted their resources, they used to call us in. or if there was a major disaster.

    at some point i noticed that when it gets really bad i just kept functioning past breaking point.
    it`s completely eerie, i was basically taking the back seat in my own head, having the repetitive training take over and do my job.
    when we got back from the calls (no shift system) at some point i noticed that i just spent up to an hour or so sitting in the car staring holes into the air. or coming home, going for a shower and just having a silent breakdown there.
    there where calls where we got called out because FFs had exhausted their numbers and some where hanging on the guard rails of the motorway throwing up "in groups". those kind where you know you don`t want to come near food for 24+ hours, where the shower will be more for your soul then the body and you are going to be a pain in the arse for your family & friends. you come home, you want to say something, but opening the door means you`re in a safe zone and your body shifts down from hyperdrive to han solo frosted parking in a second. if thats more then just very occasional, he needs help. it may help others to brace for impact if he texts you before leaving the station, so you know to give him a break. but thats just fixing symptoms, not healing.

    within our unit, there was zero awareness of PTSD. it was basic boys cameraderie, bosting and all that "hard guys dont cry" attitude.
    The guy who made me aware of my issues was a former soldier who was in AfPac with our troops. I knew him mostly as a tough guy, a bouncer at a local bar. When he asked me about some of my behaviour there (have a guess, i was misbehaving...), the topic came to all that shit and he immediately took me to the side and started giving me points where to go to. And he aint over his PTSD either.
    But what ultimately got me onto recovery road was at the same time i was crashing hard, a good female friend of mine got PTSD from "bad random male encounter". we decided that if we cant take care of ourselves, we might at least take care of each other and pull out each other, buddy system. I suddenly was responsible for her, and she for me. different motivation. and it`s perfectly exploiting my desire to help others.

    maybe you want to take your FF to some Vets who are willing to show that even tough guys need a break sometimes. Those two jobs are not too far apart. carnage, chaos. you name it, they see it. and in both cases you have to function to avoid deaths. the main difference is that soldiers calls take longer, they dont get their breaks. i think that causes a harder crash in the long term, but also more willingness to get treatment.

    having a recovery buddy or group may also help. doesnt have to be FF only, FRs FEMA Cops and Military all suffer the same thing, the source may differ. different viewpoints. may be worth investigating.

    @Florian7051 regarding two home calls - i`m very sorry to hear that.
    I had to pull a very close friend from a totalled hot hatch once. that experience is probably the worst thing i have in my mind. i remember that day including the crash, the rescue, the car driving him off 90 mins later - having a 9 hour blackout and walking 13 miles in that time with no clue where i was and no one stopping me, but some hospital nurse recognizing me wandering aimlessly.
    i can totally relate to that state of mind and feelings after such calls.
    glad to hear you`re out of the danger zone for now. stay safe.
    Freida likes this.
  9. Freida

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

    So bout that...just a quick note in emdr. It has a very high success rate but it is BRUTAL. Ive been at it for a little over a year because between the military and 911 im all kinds of messed up. For it to be successful you basically have to relive the trauma so you can finally process it. You get worse before you get better. I'm sticking it out because I know it works. It's just ugly.

    @teneighty is right about connecting with people in the same boat and there are a lot of us out there. And check out the supporters side...there are a lot of people in the same boat as you too
    Friday, Buttercup and Simply Simon like this.
  10. Sorry - looked at the thread title and assumed it was an appropriate post. Didn't want to upset anyone. NOT pretending my experience is even closely comparable to having the diagnosis. Really sorry

    Thanks so much and sorry if the post was inappropriate. EMDR sounds awful. Really hoping you get some relief. All the very best and thanks for taking the time to explain it to me.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 2, 2017
    Buttercup likes this.
  11. Freida

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

    No worries about that! I think @Simply Simon was pointing you to a more specific thread...not chastising for being in the wrong place. We bounce all over...some times admin will even move you to help. There's so many options!!

    this is huge!!!! I'm a dispatcher and I can count on hand the number of people at work I've trusted enough to tell about my diagnosis.

    I hid it for 20 years using caffeine, wine and pride. Only safe place to let out my crazy was at home. . So guess who got the brunt of it...sadly
    teneighty likes this.
  12. cactus_jack

    cactus_jack Well-Known Member

    I am former FF. I have served 13 years 3-1/2 months (or so) in roles from paid airport FF, volly FF, wildland FF, search and rescue and was cross trained EMT-B for a number of years. I never had any problems with my PTSD on duty. Do we see gruesome stuff? Oh man, and then some. Of all the things I saw the worst is watching a friend's wife die after an MVA. They tried hard to keep my friend alive because he was an organ donor. Pathetic, if you ask me. Keep him alive period.

    I never come to this forum is why I missed this thread. Now I will humbly bow out....
  13. teneighty

    teneighty New Member

    since this is not my native language and i dont know the english acronyms, can someone post me to anything saying what EMDR is ?
    if whatever it is helps, i dont care how brutal it is. i want out of what im in. i dont care how hard it is.

    i dont have the 20 years, but insert beer and a punching ball for wine and thats what I did, too. that and beeing a really stubborn asshole when it comes to realizing that there is a problem. I have a huge tendency to "never give an inch". until i break.
    Buttercup and Freida like this.
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