EMS & PTSD: Behind the Mask – Battleworn

So I have come to the realization that, at this moment in time, I am fairly unstable. I'm writing this, sitting in an ambulance, unable to utter these words out loud to my partner. When I started counseling again, the therapist told me it would get worse before it got better. And it has gotten worse. Talking about things has brought the emotions to the surface. And processing is so slow. PTSD is a fickle animal, and when you approach it and try to tame it, it often fights back. Overall anxiety is increased. I don't want to be around people. I'm increasingly afraid of my boyfriend, even though he's the most amazing supportive man ever. I'm more numb to others emotions. I'm unable to empathize with my patients as much. I'm snappy with my partners at work, and hide behind books because I can't interact anymore. Yet I have no choice but to keep fighting. That's the only way to victory. But last night, I had nightmare after nightmare. And that's how my nights have been for the last couple weeks. Drowning in repeat performances of various "traumas" I've suffered, throughout my existence. Waking disoriented and fearful, just to fall asleep into the same relentless torment. A few days ago my boyfriend got mad at me. He didn't yell. He didn't hit me. But it still hurt. It hurt so much my stupid brain jumped to, "You are never going to make anyone happy. So can we just die now? Here's a few ways to go." I told my brain to shut up. Seriously who the hell thinks about suicide just because someone got mad at them!? ...Me apparently. (No I won't. So it's okay.) Last week was hard. 9/11 is always an emotional day for me, as I'm sure it is for many of you. The same day, my partner and I were delayed transferring a patient to the memory care facility for 45 mins because his bed wasn't ready. I was trapped by shells of human beings, wandering, searching, and wailing for the comfort they couldn't find. I could feel the anxiety ratcheting up with each passing moment. I felt their fear and worry and pain wash over me in waves, slowly starting to drown me. I kept my back to the wall, and swallowed back my own panic, nervously eyeing each wandering resident. After some time I could no longer stand the environment. I was either going to start crying or screaming, as their panic fed my own. I escaped into a room next door of the loudest resident. She yowled and whimpered unintelligibly, searching the room with glazed eyes. I knelt on the floor and grasped her hand and spoke to her, as I would a frightened horse, until she calmed. I remained with her until, finally we were able to transfer our patient, and I was able to escape that hellish place. But the damage was done. My own nerves worn raw by the experience, I struggled to cope for the remainder of my shift. I stopped for a slushie and chocolate bar to comfort me, and I stood in line with many strangers waiting to pay. I fought back tears as panic and emotion threatened to overwhelm me. They saw a thin, young, capable Paramedic, fighting tears. And I was beyond their understanding, past their comprehension. I was in unimaginable pain. And I desperately wanted someone to reach out and offer to hold me. Someone to put a hand on my shoulder and ask me what was wrong. Someone to just help ease the burden I was carrying. No one did. Instead, I paid and went back to truck and tried to focus on how cold and delicious my comfort food was. Now I am so tired. I'm tired of fighting. Tired of struggling. Tired of being so very afraid and angry. And I recognize that right now, I'm not really ok. But I will live. I will love. I will continue to BE loved. And so I will fight. Even though I'm tired, and this sword and sheild are heavy, I'll keep wielding them. Because I've glimpsed the light and the end of this tunnel. And it's beautiful and peaceful and full of love and joy and comfort. That is worth fighting for.
-Doc Reaper

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