You Are Not Alone

Tailboard Talk- Suicidal Signs... if only it were that obviousI have always been very good at compartmentalizing my job from life. Do the call, do your best, make a difference where you can, and then put it away and go home. One of my very first calls on the professional department involved a child with a gunshot wound by a family member. It hit me hard for some reason. I didn’t know the family or child on this run. I had been on calls before where the child of a friend had drowned and it did not get to me, but for some reason this stranger I held got to me, and for a few weeks I had to do some serious thinking about this profession I had chosen. After some soul searching I was once again able to compartmentalize all calls. I could do it job and go on.

Skip forward 20 years and here I am a skeptic of PTSD and the guys retiring from it. Then one day recently I was on a multi-agency traumatic call gone bad and something inside me snapped. I was tired of seeing the trauma. For a moment I had had enough. I realized I could still see every traumatic event I had been on, every death, every CPR code, and remember vividly the locations of all of them. They hadn’t gone anywhere. I hadn’t gotten rid of them; I had just chosen to ignore them. At that moment I decided that I didn’t want anymore. It was physically sickening. When the box finally gets full you have to do something with it, otherwise it flows all over the place in your life.

The trauma is there even if you don’t realize it, or choose to acknowledge it. It is following you, it is affecting you, and it is changing your mental status. I realize now thinking back how much I had changed. It was eye opening.  Luckily have family that I can tell my struggle to and it helps. Many do not or will not share. I now accept the fact that one day I may need more than them to help with this overflowing box of horrific memories and I am open to that. I pray that when you get to this point in your career you will be ready to reach out too.”   – Anonymous