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Will it get better?

Discussion in 'Military & Emergency Services' started by Daph, Sep 22, 2017.

  1. Daph

    Daph Active Member

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    I am not sure if I am doing this forum thing correctly...but here it goes.

    First off, I am struggling with the term or accepting the diagnoses of PTSD. I feel uncomfortable and that it is too early in my career (8-9 years EMS) personally, so I generally use the term "burn out." It took me a year and a half to say something to my family about it. Normal?

    It has been a difficult time as I always have avoidance and self-sabotage rear it's ugly head during crucial assessments resulting in delayed diagnoses and the proper help. But despite that, it is coming to the realization that it did not matter because what the government told us was there for first responders in reality only exists on paper.

    I know I should not expect things from others, and it was hard to take the step. My work had observed over the years and pointed out my decline encouraging me to seek this non-existent help.

    I have and am seeing a small handful of friends who somehow got through the system for help initially and should therefore, as per the system have continued access when needed. Only they are given a huge runaround and then denied on relapsing. It breaks my ❤️ watching their lives continue to fall apart more from all the emotions, the disappointment, and the financial struggles just to name a few.

    I keep being told there is hope and I want to believe it. Despite being denied (was deemed invalid) the government benefits/ treatment program in my area, they gave my employer restrictions preventing me being able to work.

    Slowly, I have come to feeling of abandonment because no one can answer questions or will return info of what they need so I can maybe work to pays bills/treatment or have something feel normal. Or just to have someone call me from work asking how I am would mean so much!

    Now, I am just at the point of constantly not knowing what I am feeling or living In a dream. Before I'd only experienced period of things/ life being weird like a dream/ surreal. I am neither depressed, happy or worried even though I know I have a lot to be concerned with - selling belongings to make rent. There continues to be nothing and soon I will have nothing.

    The only thing I can hope for is that somehow my rocky path will help someone or the system to fix its flaws.

    Do others have tips or similar experiences?
     
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  3. SaharaSon

    SaharaSon Well-Known Member

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    @Daph I'm just a grunt. But for what it is worth, PTSD is about trauma. It's about one's level of exposure to trauma. As a 8-9 year EMS, you have to have had exposure to a tremendous amount of trauma. No question about it. That kind of exposure to trauma is extremely stressful. Its not simply that you are "burned out" . You can get burned out from cooking too many hamburgers or dealing with irate customers. No, you have been helping people hang on to life, over and over and over again. That is very, very different. As human beings we can't help but identify with those in great pain. If we experience pain, give pain, or have to help those in great pain we give so much of ourselves, that it hurts us deeply too. We are not built to handle this level of stress. We need help. My advice is to seek professional medical attention, and keep talking to us. We understand. :tup:
     
    Buttercup, Freida and EveHarrington like this.
  4. Daph

    Daph Active Member

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    Thanks!
    You are right we need help. However, the medical attention I again struggle with like I am sure everyone does...
    I have hid why I off work the best to my ability and hid from "some" portions of the medical system as when I have been at my worse. I know the facilities well, hospital staff, I know the therapists, the police, the crisis teams and EMS. I also know they all talk and I lose confidentiality. I wish there was some secret way. I know what I need to say to avoid being forced or formed. And sometimes, I think okay I am going to do it and be honest, get the help....and yep nope....back to square one! Hell...I struggled when I had severe abdominal pain to pick a place where I would know the least amount of people who would be up in my business. We are our own worse enemy sometimes....
     
    SaharaSon likes this.
  5. SaharaSon

    SaharaSon Well-Known Member

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    @Daph Ya, I know what you mean, about them talking to each other. I worked in Hospitals for a while, I know exactly where you are coming from. D*mn it is a tight community. You might consider some Docs in private practice, or small clinics where they don't circulate as much with the Hospitals or big facilities where your coworkers are. Another possibility is going to a neighboring city or town for counciling. Alot can be done face to face via the internet, also. Technology can help alot. Do some research, check out the possibilities. In the mean time, keep talking to us. :tup:
     
    Daph likes this.
  6. Freida

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

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    It sucks being the person who everyone knows and being the one who has "failed" to keep sucking it up and pretending it doesn't matter when it is slowly killing you inside. My ptsd comes predominately from some fun filled adventures in the military but many years in dispatch didn't help. And I'm right there with you - despite my doctor and shrinks best efforts it took me two years to accept the diagnosis and still only a very few trusted people know. I'm off work right now "taking care of myself" Translation - it finally broke me and I had to get out for a bit but I'll be damned if anyone at work is going to know that.

    Like you, no one from work really cares one way or another. A few people have asked, but its the gossip, not the caring. What shocked me was those few who reached out. People I never expected. It was also weird how once I acknowledged that taking care of myself was going to happen-- unexpected doors opened. I agree with @SaharaSon about trying a nearby town for help. I'm lucky to live in a place that is just big enough to find people who have no idea what public safety does or who is in it (which can be a challenge in itself - be prepared to educate!)

    I still struggle with being honest with my T and with how long getting better takes. It's like chipping tiny ice chips off a glacier. Public safety thinks in seconds and minutes. PTSD thinks in months and years. I've had to learn to think about time differently and that has sucked.

    But. I finally took some time off, educated myself, found sites like this, dug around until I could find someone who could help me, gave the little bits of honestly until I felt I could trust them and guess what? I'm doing better. Not well -- but better. It's amazing how much it helps not having to be the person giving cpr instructions to a frantic mom for their baby, or trying to talk down a suicidal, or hearing an officer or rescue unit screaming for help. We tend to think of those experiences as normal parts of our lives but THEY ARE NOT NORMAL!. (LOL - capital letters courtesy of those who have finally gotten me to admit that the suck it up buttercup mentality is not a good one.) These are things that damage your soul. PTSD is only just now being recognized in emergency services which is pretty stupid when you think about what you have done every day for the last 9 years. Facing the death and pain and trauma of others is not easy - but we are conditioned to think it is. Doing it every day? Yea - that's gonna leave a mark.

    Don't give up. Keep trying to find help. Know that you have not failed. You are choosing taking care of yourself over doing a job. Even an important job is just a job. And its ok to leave it behind for a bit. Most importantly - know you are not alone.
     
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  7. Daph

    Daph Active Member

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    Thank you! I was not sure whether to tell people at work. One colleague (my work dad) said it was easier to tell people at work because they are probably all talking anyways. But I have always been a private person. I have always tried to keep my work life separate from my personal, but then again I have found that a challenge as most cannot relate outside the field.

    There has been a lot of anger and painful memories also from colleagues/management that I think really puts me off from trusting or being able to be open about it. I had a forced return to work via the government earlier this year, which was fine by me because I did not really want to be off work. I maybe lasted 10 days (2 of which I was full duties). I fell apart the first day and my on duty supervisor told me to "figure it out quick or just go home" - I actually began self medicating to survive those 10 days. Which going with your comment of PTSD recently only being recognized in emergency services, it struck me odd to be given the same "suck it up buttercup" response at that time as R2MR training had been completed in our area. Even to be told, when triggered, that it was "not a traumatic enough event." The trigger isn't the actual traumatic experience, it is what reminds you of the event.

    I hear the way scenarios are being delivered they are more positive during school, but I and my colleagues have not once experienced that during our annual training. I truly feel that the scenarios we do in our career causes us to blame ourselves on facing the death and trauma of others. When does the patient decline rapidly or die in a scenario generally? That is when a practitioner misses a treatment or provides the incorrect treatment...
     
    SaharaSon likes this.
  8. brokenEMT

    brokenEMT Well-Known Member

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    Things can get better, so don't give up. In my experience, I didn't actually get real help until I gave up on my employer, wcb, and disability, and took matters into my own hands. I now have a diagnosis, and a psychologist who is fantastic. Keep pushing until you get what you need.
     
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  9. Daph

    Daph Active Member

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    OY! I know what you mean. The headaches with employers, WCB and disability even with the dx. And the unprofessional cism/peer support... it is not like you have bigger fish to fry as it is without those stressors. I am partially concern of how this affects me further career wise if say I ever want to switch/ transfer. Work to live, not live to work!
     
    brokenEMT likes this.
  10. Freida

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

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    Oh right there with you! Every time I lost one the second guessing started...mine and managements. Did I give the right instructions...did I code the call fast enough...did I pick the right emd card? Then you go on to the next call. Then there was a homicide call i worked and asked for help after and got the suck it up buttercup treatment.
    I'm still pissed and that was years ago!:mad:

    The good news is that it is slowly changing. We no longer teach our new kids that it's a badge of honor not to cry or be upset. We've started pushing self care and the benefits of feeling. It's still long ways to go but it will come. And yea, it doesn't do much for us struggling now...but you if can find how to get help you can be the person the newbees go to when they are struggling. And that could be just as important as the work you do in the field
     
  11. Daph

    Daph Active Member

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    I can't express how much it means to me to feel somewhat validated and not alone with what I was feeling with just what was shared with me! You go through times wondering if you are just "batsh*t crazy" from the embarrassment because some even say that to you or it is "just depression and that you will get over" when personally I never experienced depression before. And these emotions or experiences are common now I realize. I am beginning to feel better already.

    Even when being second guessed by your management on the calls, if nothing is found (and most times there isn't) they still make you feel so guilty and never turn it around at the end saying, "You know what! You did a fine job. We are sorry to maybe have thought otherwise during this process." Or even to be blamed harshly/ written up on it being your fault when injured like by being attacked by combative patient, not to be asked " Are you okay?" and so you hide the physical and emotional bruises they cannot see.

    It scares me how I will survive/ face these people at work because testing myself by returning old uniforms made me physically ill especially after one of the supervisors tried to talk to me. I couldn't even respond (and if I did, it probably would have resulted in me being fired on the spot) or acknowledge him, immediately I turned around and walked out.
     
  12. Daph

    Daph Active Member

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    When you say you gave up on the employer and disability taking it into your hands, did you leave the profession? Something I have thought about.... But there is a feisty side to me that wants to go back sticking it to them, if not somehow pave the way for others facing this.
     
  13. Freida

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

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    Yea. Bout that. Lol. I tried that whole "see me prove you wrong" thing for years. Then one day I asked myself why. Started counseling and found out it was just a way to distract myself from facing the monsters in my head. If I was fighting I wasn't listening to me. The screaming me.

    Don't get me wrong. I used what I learned along the way for helping the kids coming in. But at what cost? I'm sending in my LTD papers tomorrow after 6 weeks of waffling. After two decades of taking care of others its time to take care of myself. If I knew at 10 years what i know now would I have stayed? Probably yes - because I loved the job. But I would have done it in my terms...making sure I was ok first -- then worry about what others thought and expected second
     
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