I do not claim to be an expert on PTSD, but as a New York City Firefighter with over ten years on the job, I can say i have experienced it on varying degrees. I entered the fdny 8 months after 9/11 at a time, in which it is safe to say most, if not all, of the workforce was shell shocked. Clean up at the pile was still going on and a lot of time off was spent at memorial masses, street renaming ceremonies and fundraisers for victims families. Looking back now, I realize how raw everything was, but at the time was very naive to what was happening every time I went to work. It wasn’t until some time later when I had my own experiences that I began to sympathize with the guys that I had once categorized as malcontents, or introverts.
To be exposed to things on a regular basis that most people would not want to see in an entire lifetime has very REAL consequences!! Problem is there is a certain bravado that comes with certain professions. After all,the public looks to firefighters, police, military ect.. To help them at a time they Cannot help themselves. Thus breeding a culture in which its considered a weakness to openly discuss problems that come from conditions like PTSD.”
Former US Army NCO
PTSD is real, it can, and will affect you in many ways. After years of keeping it trapped inside, it cost me many things, my marriage mostly. Yeah the Army had someone to talk to, and so did the VA, but they don’t know what’s its like to live though it, only talk about it. I found comfort and ways to cope by talking to guys that were there and knew what it’s like. Having a network around you that you can access is vital. I may be great for weeks, even months then something triggers me and it may be 4 am, and I need to talk, or just someone to listen.
Excerpt from Former US Army Sergeant and Current 911 dispatcher
While driving one day to one of the 911 centers I work at I had a realization, epiphany, word of God, whatever you would like to call it. Fear Not. It struck such a deep chord with everything in my life that it brought tears to my eyes. I realized that everything we did was based on fear. Everything. It changed everything, yet changed nothing. Maybe you have had that realization already. Then I thought, how do we change that? How do we take away fear? We can’t. As long as we live in these bodies we need fear to survive. But then it made sense. Fear controls everything we do. It is the reason for the social systems we have. What is there to fear other than the next lesson. Some of the greatest people I have met have overcome great adversity. They inspire and encourage others that there is more to life, life does go on.
What is PTSD? What are mental disorders? What is insanity? What is normal? How do we as humans evolve to the next level? We spread the word. We encourage one another. We choose to create positive energy. We start seeing one another as spirits, not as collections of cells grouped together by random chemical and biological processes. Instead of judging one another we understand that we are all on this spiritual journey together. We are all reflections of the same. We all have the ability to create or destroy. We accept the forgiveness that has been given to us. We take responsibility for our own actions, and we drive on. Do what you think is right. Make someone smile. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
PTSD can affect entire generations. It can cause people to lash out against others. It has caused countless suicides, divorces, and death. It wakes you up in the middle of the night. It causes nervous reactions. It promotes substance abuse which in-turn spur mental disorders and paranoia. It is fear. An event that may seem insignificant to one person can cause severe trauma for another. We become so focused on an event that it consumes our every thought. All other events seem insignificant. Our worlds are rocked to the core.