Sometimes, there just is no answer.

Sometimes, there just is no answer.

Sometimes, there just is no answer. You wait months and months for a consult, that you dream will magically solve all of your problems, and you walk away defeated. Sometimes there just is no answer.

You put your hopes into a specialist, that is trained, that is a guru, that is the saint in the profession of fixing any and all ailments, and you walk away defeated. Sometimes, there is just no answer.

You do what seems like every test known to man, and sometimes, there is just no answer.

Sometimes you have a diagnosis, for which there is no cure, and sometimes, there is just no answer.

Sometimes in life, there is just no answer. There is no magic potion. There is no magic guru. Nothing.

Sometimes, we just have to live with not having an answer, and build up from there. Make the most out of what we do have. Use what works, and be your own magician for your body. Fix it the best way you can, and find ways to cope. Try not to dwell on the bad, and focus on the good that surrounds you.

There is one answer to all of this. This is the life you were given. Find the light in the darkness. In an essay called ‘Blindness’ that I recently read by ‘Jorge Luis Borges’, he lectured on how the progressive nature of his own blindness, changed his own outlook on life. This man was a writer, who loved reading. His whole world revolved around seeing the written word. Instead of seeing what was being taken away, he chose to see through the darkness and find the light. He wrote, ” A writer, or any man, must believe that whatever happens to him is an instrument; everything has been given for an end. This is even stronger in the case of the artist. Everything that happens, including humiliations, embarrassments, misfortunes, all has been given like clay, like material for one’s art. One must accept it. For this reason I speak in a poem of the ancient food of heroes: Humiliation, unhappiness, discord. Those things are given to us to transform, so that we may make from the miserable circumstances of our lives things that are eternal, or aspire to be so. If a blind man thinks this way, he is saved. Blindness is a gift”.

Whatever affliction you may be suffering from, Chronic illness, Ptsd, Depression, Pain, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t have to have a name. It just has to be seen as the clay you need to mold. It needs to transform. It needs to show you the path you are meant to be on, and it needs to not take another day from you. You are the artist. You create your life. You may not have control over what you have been given, but you do have control over what perspective you take. You can either mold that clay into one of despair, or you can mold it into one of triumph. You chose.

Sometimes, there is no answer. But you can control your own solution.

Why it is time to stop neglecting yourself

Why it is time to stop neglecting yourself

Does diagnosis matter?

I chatted last night with a fellow chronic illness warrior. We covered everything from how we were diagnosed, to how long it took to finally have an answer, and how we felt when the doctor eventually whispered its name to us. But, I had one thought that kept re-generating in my head after we chatted, so simple, yet so complex. What are we doing now that the illness has a name and now that name looms in our bodies all day and all night? That thought festered into, were we relieved? Did having a diagnosis make it easier? What has it really changed? POTS. LUPUS. MS. Did it matter in the end?

It took 2.5 years to get a Pots diagnosis for myself. I am now in limbo with yet another possible autoimmune condition, which has thrown me into a tailspin for the last few years. I am in the middle of the medical web of referrals right now, where I am the lead detective, hunting down whatever leads I get, trying to attach a name to the perp that has alluded me and stolen valuable health hours away from my life. If you were to come over to my house, it would be akin to seeing those forensic cops connecting the yarn from suspect to clue, to yet another alternate suspect. All the yarn connecting to one invisible mug shot. Who are you that has evaded me; I have often whispered. Show yourself! The one thing that I have learned since my initial diagnosis over 10 years ago, is that you have to advocate for your own self. No one else can do that for you. I have always felt that I was doing just that, advocating for myself. But, after my chat last night, I realized I wasn’t. Not even close.

I wasn’t advocating for myself

In the conversation with my fellow warrior last night, we shared a laugh when we discussed the luggage that we both drag around to other places if we go out. I know I touched on this in the blog ” 5 things to know about pots”, but we chatted about how backpacks and heating pads and other essential items had now become a part of our daily wardrobe. My backpack was my lifeline. It held everything I needed to sustain myself throughout my day. Except, it wasn’t true. After our chat, I realized that a majority of these items I end up stuffing into that bag, was needed because I would ultimately end up failing to take care of myself. I was failing to listen to my body. Failing to do what was right for me. I wasn’t packing the right stuff into my bag, because I wasn’t packing the right bag.

Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

Self-advocating doesn’t mean your not self-neglecting

In the traditional sense, I was advocating in front of all my varied doctors and therapists, and who knows how many other professionals I had been to over the years. But outside of that medical diagnostic game, my aim was to give myself a life. Give my girls and husband a great mom and partner. Be a great friend. Be a great daughter. To live to the fullest. To explore. To dine. To wine. To have the clean house. To provide an income. To keep the kids active. To host the best party. To be the one who always says yes to going out. To making others believe that I didn’t have an illness. If they can’t see it, I could hide it. To ultimately paying for it later. Truth. Out of fear of having to make my husband leave a party or evening early I would suffer. Out of fear of my kids not getting enough fresh air, I would stand out in the cold longer and suffer. Out of fear of say no, I would walk longer or farther than I should. Out of fear of being a nuisance, I would sit on the high stool at a restaurant, knowing that my legs dangling down for two hours would hurt me later. Out of fear of looking dumb, I wouldn’t lay down at a friends gathering, when I clearly needed to. I would stand in the sun, knowing my body was overheating with an inability to regulate itself, just so I wouldn’t feel rude leaving a BBQ. It goes on and on. The ending was always the same. I would then, unzip my pack and use it all to try and recover, or I would head to the hospital.

Nobody is asking for you to do all these things

The worst part is, not one person ever put these expectations on me, except myself. I failed myself. For my own egotistical gain, I ignored the fact that I had a condition. I didn’t want it to exist, so I carried on and had the attitude that I would just deal with it later. No one would know, and I would keep up the illusion of someone with her shit together. For what purpose? Would these people really care if they knew how I really felt? The ones I align myself with, all know of my condition, and would be understanding, but I didn’t give anyone the chance. So I chatted with my husband last night, and started owning up to all the times I should of said no. All the times I should have left the party early. All the times, I should have stayed inside, or moved to the shade, or just not cared what other’s thought. I started compiling a list of things that I need to start doing for myself.

How I am planning to change? (A few items off of my list)

  • Take 2 cars to events, so I have the option of leaving early without feeling bad about taking that time away from my husband or friend that I am out with. (They would come back with me, but I don’t believe they should always miss out on my account either)
  • Don’t go to events in the middle of the day, during the worst heat of the summer. Sounds simple, but I say yes to these events all the time, and I pay for it. Instead, say yes to the events early in the day or later in the evening when the temperature is more manageable.
  • Ask for a table with chairs instead of stools.
  • Lay down at a cocktail party, and stop giving a shit who has to step over me.
  • Stop hosting, and allow myself to be hosted once in a while. (this one is hard for me)
Photo by Spencer Gurley on Pexels.com (Your true friends will carry you)

So does diagnosis matter?

So to answer the question, does a diagnosis matter? Yes, it does. It gives you answers. There is relief, but that also comes with fear. Fear at knowing you have to find a way to live with this in your life now. Does it change anything? It can help you manage your symptoms easier, but in the end it is YOU that manages everything. You manage the outlook on your illness. You manage your daily outcome. You manage your thoughts. You manage the life you want to present to the world, and the life you want presented back to you. So stop neglecting yourself. Put yourself first. Trust in your friends and family. The ones that are meant to be in your life will not resent your shortcomings, but embrace them and help you live your life as much as you can. They will allow last minute restaurant changes, or let you sit in the shade while they sweat it out in the sun instead. They will sit with you while you rest your legs, and they will take you home early if you just can’t handle the pain anymore. They don’t need a front. They take you as your are, and that is enough. So I consider this blog, the start of my journey in learning how to not neglect the very thing I demand my doctors find. Me. Do I still need that backpack? Yes, but maybe now it can be a little bit lighter to carry around. Packed properly to sustain me, and not to rescue me.

Why self-awareness could save your life

Why self-awareness could save your life

Many people don’t know that I was the victim of an attempted sexual assault many years ago. I was in my first year of Paramedic school when I was attacked in the elevator of my apartment building. That puts me at about 27 years old when my confidence in the world changed. I wasn’t afraid of much before that day came.

I was living on my own in a cute little apartment, which was walking distance to work. It had security measures in place, and included underground parking. I felt safe there. I always parked in the underground parking, but on this particular day I had been out running errands , and I parked out in front of the building because I wanted to run in quickly to grab my laundry to take to my parents. My building didn’t have laundry facilities, so it was a regular routine of mine to take it out to my parents and spend some time there while I did a few loads. My building had double doors requiring someone on the inside to either have a key or buzz you in. When I entered the building, I used my keys to get into the lobby and a young man came out from the stairwell door(which led into the area you need to be buzzed in) and he snuck in behind me before the door closed to the lobby. I remember being puzzled, and not having a chance to tell him that he needed to be buzzed in, however, because he had just come down via the stairwell I figured he must of forgotten something upstairs from wherever he just came from. (the stairwell is locked and requires access from another floor). He also looked young and so as a result, I wasn’t immediately worried.

Photo by Kelly Lacy on Pexels.com

As I stood at the elevator waiting for it to come, I remember I felt it. I felt intuition. Something wasn’t right. Every hair on my body was standing up. I remember glancing sideways at him while he waited with me, and then I remember telling myself to relax, he is just a kid. No big deal. As much as everything in my body was sensing something was wrong, I didn’t listen. The door dinged and I walked in with him. I remember pushing my floor button right away, #10. He hesitated and hovered around the buttons, and then randomly hit a number. At this point, my body was on full alert. I actually remember looking sideways at him again, seeing if he had a knife or a weapon. I had never in my life EVER thought this of anyone, but I did that day. I took a step back, and when the elevator doors closed and lurched upwards, he sprung at me. I had a hot chocolate in my hand, and I remember it went everywhere. I remember being totally confused and shocked at what was going on. I remember most of all how quiet I was. I managed to sputter out,” What are you doing”?? I won’t get into the details of what he tried to do to me, but I managed to keep shoving him off me and prevented anything from seriously happening. When the elevator hit the floor that he had pushed the button for, he sprung off me and took off running. In a panic, while crying, I shut the doors and tried to get to my floor as fast as possible. I remember being two old ladies waiting for the elevator when I got off and they must of been shocked at my appearance. I took off running to my apartment and called my mom, followed by 911.

What I remember most, was crying for hours afterwards in terror while waiting for the police to come, and wondering why all the things I thought I would do if I was ever attacked, failed to happen. I didn’t scream for help. I barely said a word. I didn’t swing for the areas that would hurt him, I just tried to keep him away. I was always a tough cookie, but my body just reacted totally different then I ever thought it would. I struggled to know why. The reality is, I did nothing wrong that day. I saved myself, but it taught me that I didn’t react the way I thought I would, which made me feel less safe.

It turned out, I was the man’s second victim that day. When he came running down the staircase, he had just done the same thing to another women that he had followed home from a local mall. He followed her into the building, into the elevator, assaulted her, took off running down the stairs, saw me, and did it all over again. Bold. When I called police the following day after waiting all night for them to take my statement, they said they had already seen me. I assured them that they had not. The police then realized that there had been two victims in the same building minutes apart, and that they didn’t connect the incidents. Luckily, I had phoned the landlord right after it happened and asked him to save the camera footage and give it over to the police.

Photo by Martin Lopez on Pexels.com

I was brought down to the police station to identify the man after a police officer viewing the footage was able to recognize him as a previous offender. I was given a lineup of people to go through, and I was again shocked at how little I knew about this guy. I was able to pick him out, but I couldn’t believe how un-observant I really was. This bothered me. I chose not to go to court, and instead wrote a victim impact statement while asking for a restraining order and the maximum penalty. He was a juvenile, and I knew he wouldn’t be sent away for a long time, but he was also a repeat offender, with his crimes escalating, and that was terrifying to hear. I knew the court needed to put him someplace safe, and hopefully with some sort of rehabilitation program to prevent any further crimes. I couldn’t handle seeing him again, and I didn’t want him to have a reason to remember me visually. So I didn’t go.

After this happened, I developed a fear of being alone. I was unable to ride in elevators with men. This made being a paramedic student challenging at the time, because I had to repeatedly get into elevators right after this happened, while trying to keep my anxiety from showing. It also affected my walking to work. It stopped. I would drive to work now out of fear I would run into the assailant. I would run from my car to the elevator and panic while I waited, hoping I wouldn’t have to get in with anyone. If a man was already in there, or waiting to go in, I would stop and tie my shoe, or do something to avoid going in. I would run from my car into buildings, and stopped wanting to be alone period. That man, took away my independence, my confidence, and trust.

Photo by KoolShooters on Pexels.com

However, the one thing I gained from him, was that I learned I had intuition. Every part of my body lit up. I felt it, I knew it, but didn’t listen to it. At that point I never had a reason too. I had trust in all. It however, has made me realize that it exists, and I will never ignore it again. If I don’t feel right, I won’t do it. I will wait as long as it takes to get myself into a situation that my radar doesn’t go off. I implore you to realize, intuition is real. Follow it. Respect it. You will thank me for it.

I also learned to be more observant of my surroundings. I look at people’s faces now. I look at what they are wearing. I study their body languages, and make sure that I always have an exit. (something also learned in paramedic school). I don’t bury myself in my phone, or move through life when I don’t know what is happening around me. In public, I am not distracted.

In a world of technology we are losing this ability to be self-aware, and with that I worry that we are going to lose the ability to recognize our intuition. The ability to recognize when something isn’t right and to change it before it affects you negatively. I am writing this to urge you to open your eyes, know your surroundings, see your surroundings, and stay safe. Pay attention to how you feel, or how someone or something makes you feel. Who cares if you look stupid waiting for an elevator over and over, it just takes one time to get attacked in one. I can tell you from experience, being attacked in an elevator was one of the scariest places to be attacked, because I had no way out. So if you have to take a different way home, or wait a few extra minutes to walk to your car or go down a different aisle at the store, because you get a weird vibe, just do it. It could save your life.

How I started changing my thoughts to a glass-half-full kinda gal

How I started changing my thoughts to a glass-half-full kinda gal

Glass with literally nothing left

I don’t know about you, but when I first hear my alarm clock go off in the morning my first thought is usually not PG rated.   A certain charming word that begins with the letter ‘F’, usually becomes the first word of the day, followed in quick succession with the carefully crafted word ‘This’. A combination of age,  and chronic illness,  is then responsible for a long series of groans as I actually attempt to sit up and open my eyes. Then, I do the worst thing possible.   I reach for my phone, and my eyes are immediately assailed with completely horrible news stories and just bad vibes all around.  Putting my phone down exasperated, I then reach over and open the blinds, and recoil and shudder at the maddening possibility that the Canada would ever get snow in the middle of the winter!  Snow in January? How absurd!  After vowing not to leave the house today due to such absurdity, I spend time meticulously deciding between my grey jogging pants or my black ones, ( because why even attempt to see if my jeans still fit),  and I throw on my super sleek oversized hoody, (mainly so I don’ t have to wear a bra), and I make my way downstairs.  By the time I get down the first few steps, I am in a mood.  By the time I make it to the kitchen, I am certifiably irritated and not someone that will be fun to be around.  My husband and kids, exchange a quick look and head the other way. Good call family.

What if I pressed rewind and we did this all over with cheery ole spin instead?

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Glass bubbling over

I don’t know about you, but when I first hear my alarm clock go off in the morning my first thought is usually totally PG 13!  A certain charming word beginning with the word ‘F’ followed by the carefully crafted letters U and N, usually becomes the first word of the day!  A combination of age and chronic illness is then responsible for my appreciating everything in this world that I am totally capable of doing today, when I find that I am lucky enough to sit up and open my eyes today!  Then, I do the best thing possible!  I reach for my phone and my eyes are immediately embraced with positive news and great vibes all around!  I put my phone down with a huge smile, and I open up the blinds and I beam with the incredulous possibility that it snowed again, and we get to run out and make snow angels today! I love snow!  After vowing that I will leave the house as much as possible today to enjoy the snow, I decide to put on a flattering pair of jeans, and a wonderfully cozy shirt, as I make my way downstairs. By the time I get down the first steps , I squeal with delight at how cute I look, and by the time I make it to the kitchen, my kids and husband run up to me with kisses and hugs abound.  Admiration abound, with how great of a day this is going to be.

Nope

So here’s thing.    The first example is probably how I am used to waking up a good 90% of the time.  Ok, maybe 98 % of the time.  The bottom one , never F#$king happens. Like ever. But that is what I am striving towards, albeit with a little less of the fluffy unicorn and rainbows feel too it.  I read an article a while back that talked about how those who look at their phones when they first wake up, are more likely to feel overwhelmed and stressed, then those that wake up with a different routine not looking at negative news.  So why not change up your morning routine to one with a little less negative energy and a little more positive light?  

Photo by Lachlan Ross on Pexels.com

5 ways that I changed up my mornings, which started changing up my thoughts

I Changed my alarm tone

One thing that I learned from my paramedic days, is that the first thing I am trying to do now is open my eyes and say thank you.  Thank you for another day.  Thank you for the privilege of opening my eyes.  Thank you for letting me face this day, good or bad. I am alive, breathing and living.  Amen to that! The next thing I did was changed my ring tune and alarm tone on my phone. I now wake up to the gentle crescendo of ocean waves. It starts out really quiet, and then gradually gets louder.    I have residual PTSD from the blaring tones that would happen when a call would come through at the EMS stations  The Shrill alarm would make me jump out of my skin. It created a heart pounding and debilitating reaction to all things loud.  To this day, waking up to anything resembling and alarm, isn’t allowed in our bedroom.  Ocean waves is soothing to my soul, and it lets me start my day in a much calmer fashion.  

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
Set your alarm for some ‘me’ time

Set your alarm earlier and allow yourself to stretch, have coffee, meditate, or whatever it is that you need to do to keep yourself zen to start the day.  My sister-in-law taught me the art of this.  She gets up an hour before her family does, so that she can start her day with a coffee and a book and for some much needed alone time.   How you start your day, leaves a ripple effect in your mood that carries you through your day. So start it the way you dream of starting it.

Look good for yourself

The next one is something I think most people struggle with, especially during a pandemic.  It’s easy to throw on the baggy clothes and not care what they look like.  Maybe try and put on something that makes you feel good every day.  Clothes, make-up, jewellery , it doesn’t matter, just FEEL GOOD!  When you like the way you look, you’ll like the way you feel. 

Find the positive in the most negative of places

Finally, for all those who suffer from depression, anxiety, chronic illness, Monday blues and whatever else is going on in your life that brings you down; try and find ways to be positive.  If your first instinct is to be negative, stop the thought and find a way to look at it through a positive lens.  Children see snow as fun, why can’t we as adults feel the same?  Kids don’t start their life knowing how to be negative.  They learn that feeling.  Who is teaching them?  Try to be a positive reflection for your kids, so that they can grow up with the right tools.  Teach them that it is ok to have bad days, and negative feelings. But, also teach them how to overcome those feelings, and strive for a more positive life. Start catching yourself in the middle of a negative thought, and find one way to make it positive. Do this all day long. Eventually it will become a habit, and you will find all the positives in the most negative of places.

Make a list of 5 things you are thankful for every single night

Feeling pain and and down or crappy really sucks. But, take the time to embrace it, and know you are alive.  For those of us in pain, we feel very alive every day.  It is not easy to see it as a blessing, but it is.    Pain or not, you are here.  You are alive. You are needed. Hope for a cure.  Hope for better days. Every single night, make a list of 5 things that you are thankful for every single night . When you first start, this will seem impossible. The more positive you become, the easier this gets. So look forward to the day that it is easy, and remember this quote by Dennis Brown that defines it all:

You alone are responsible for the type of life you live.  You can change it, or you can accept it.   I’m choosing to change it for the better.

How I finally figured out the solution for Avoidance in PTSD

How I finally figured out the solution for Avoidance in PTSD

Five years ago, I tucked my paramedic career into a shoe box, and I closed the lid. The box is non-descript. Actually, that’s not true. It’s actually quite cheery given what the contents inside have represented to me.  Its outside, not being an honest reflection of what it hides inside to me.  I find it vaguely amusing, that I chose that particular box to hold its contents.  The top of the box actually says “live in the moment”. No joke. The thought “sucker” enters my head as I conjure up scenarios where a thief opens the box thinking they are about to find big wads of cash, or piles of jewellery stashed away, only to find an old uniform shirt, some badges, stethoscopes, a few pictures, and pins.  Junk they would say, and probably toss the box to the side.  But is it junk?   How do I not know the answer to this?  Cue quiet reflection from within.

The irony of this box now, makes me smile.

The answer came to me in the form of my youngest daughter. She came up to me and very excitedly said “Mama, what is this? I just love it”.   As she opened up her hand, I saw that it was my grandfather’s old firefighter’s badge.   I had kept it after he had passed away.  I was proud to have that.  Proud that he was a firefighter, and proud that I got to become a paramedic and work in the same city and even the same building that he worked.   I was proud to hold his badge in my hand and I was proud to display his badge in my home. Yet, I had the same badge and I kept it locked away.  Why wasn’t I proud of myself?

Avoidance

The funny thing is, when I looked back on what I knew of my grandfather’s career, I had learned everything from a photo album he had kept. It contained various newspaper clippings that he had saved, some photos, and I heard a few stories from my mom about those items in return. I would see his photo up in a few fire stations around the city,  but outside of that, I knew nothing of his time as a firefighter.  I didn’t know of any stories. He didn’t’ talk about it.  And then it hit me. I think it is very likely that he suffered the same as I.  He worked during a time when PTSD was not something you discussed.  If you suffered, you suffered alone.  I am sure he saw a lot of horrible things in his career, yet I have no idea what those were. He had one picture of himself as a fire captain up in his house, beside the badge that I now have.  It was located in the back tv room in his house.  Not up front. Not up for everyone to see. A quiet homage.  He didn’t carry reminders; he didn’t glorify it and he didn’t tell stories.  He kept it to himself.

Is it possible that genetically my Papa and I both responded to trauma the same way by locking it out of our lives and moving on?  He closed it all into a photo album to sit alone on a shelf in some closet, and I in a box in my dresser.   I don’t suppose I’ll ever know what it was he carried around with him.  Just as those will never understand what I carry around with me. But I do know one thing:

~PTSD doesn’t discriminate, but it does show that you are human~

I think the EMS schools need to fix one very important thing.  They need to rethink how they train their recruits and graduates in the mental health game.  I held back two students when they did their placements with me.  They could easily rip through a medical protocol verbally with me, and it was clear they knew their toxicology or basic medical requirements. However,  when it came to patient care , they forgot that they patients were human.  They didn’t look at the patient, they just made choices that made sense in their textbook.  They didn’t listen, they just thought. They didn’t understand the magnitude of making a mistake, or what power their choices had on a patient’s outcome.  They had stars in their eyes about saving a life or being a hero, and coming home and bragging about the horrors of what they saw. They didn’t know what the effects of seeing trauma after trauma, and death after death can do to a person’s mental health.  Students are coming into a service ready to take on the world, yet they haven’t even experienced a portion of the world yet.  I should know.  I was them.  I thought I was prepared.  Not one person ever sat me down and said, “hey kid, this is the effect this job can have on you, and here is what it could do you as a result, and here are some skills to help equip you better should it happen”.  Not one person.  We need to change that.   We need to start preventive PTSD training. Why is this not out there?

Perhaps it is because there is no magic formula to prevent it, and there is a chance that you would still get PTSD no matter how hard you tried to avoid it.  The reality is, if you are human, you SHOULD get some sort of PTSD if you spend your whole career in the EMS field.   No one is immune to seeing horrible things day after day, multiple times a day.  Soldiers, Police, Paramedics, Fire, Nurses , Doctors, and every other profession that falls into the umbrella need to hear that YOU ARE HUMAN!! YOU SHOULD GET PTSD!!!  YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO GET HELP FOR IT!!  YOU ARE THE NORMAL ONES!  

I’ve always been a sensitive soul, so perhaps I shouldn’t have been shocked when it crept into my life.  What I do know, is that it does get better.  What I do know, is that it takes time.  What I do know, is that there is help out there if you are willing to put in the time.  What I do know, is that I will never be the same person I was before I got it, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.  It doesn’t have to define me. 

So, I am getting that box out. I have so many memories of looking up at the photo frame of my papa in his uniform  and his badge on his wall at his house.  As a kid, I felt nothing but pride and wonderment at who and what he was.  It is time for my kids to be able to look up at a wall in my house now and feel the same.  I want them to know what Mama used to do.  I want them to know that I worked my ass off to become a paramedic.  I want them to know how proud I am at what I did during my time there.   I want them to know that I helped and saved a lot of people.   I want them to know that I saw things that defined why I am the protective mother I am today.  I want them to know that I was hurt mentally by my career, and that I worked hard to get better. I want them to know that I didn’t ever give up, and that the choices they make in the future always come with risks.  I wish them to never be naïve, but always be full of hope, and wish and plan for the best. 

The Solution

I finally figured out the solution to avoidance.   The biggest mistake I made in all of my battle with PTSD was that in hoping to fix the problem I avoided anything and everything paramedic.  I quit my job, I placed things in a box that reminded me of it, I avoided talking, thinking and hearing about anything  related to paramedic, I avoided the news, and also avoiding paramedic friends. In doing so, I also placed every positive memory I had away in the box.   I allowed darkness to win.  I ceased to remember anything positive about it.  The solution.   I opened the box, and let positive memories in.  I forced myself to remember everything good.  I tried to lift the job up in a positive light again.  I tried to remember what it was like when I first found out I got hired and what it was like putting on my uniform and going to my first real call. I remembered how much I loved all my friends I made along the way.  How much I loved my training.  How much I loved everything I did on the calls.  How much I loved the feeling of helping someone, and the feeling of knowing you saved someone, or got to be there for someone in their last moments.  You see, I had forgotten all that.  It was clouded in negativity when I locked away the positive and assumed it was all just a dark hole if I opened it.  After all this time, I realized it wasn’t junk. It was my treasure. I had just forgotten how to see it that way.

Me with my nephew. One fo the few pics I have in uniform. Grateful to have this picture, so that I can show my kids that I was a Paramedic, and I loved it.

So, for all of you out there that are suffering from PTSD, don’t be afraid to open that box, it holds your elusive treasure. Positivity can be found, even if it is buried way down deep.  You will find it.  It is always there. Just start from the beginning and remember that first day of your career when you laced up your boots full of wonder, hope and excitement.  You will find it.  I just had to look at the lid of my box and

~Live in the moment~