I had the opportunity to talk about my book, Mr. Wilson Makes it Home at a book club last week. One of the people there asked about PTSD, and if I had been officially diagnosed.
That’s a tough one. Over the years I’ve participated in a number of Post Incident Stress Debriefings, and sought individual therapy on my own, just to keep the pieces together while I was still responding to o therapy people’s emergencies.
Fire/EMS exposes people to things that can and do haunt them forever. Learning to keep those things in their proper place is a skill that I learned. Nobody instinctively knows how best to navigate a long career in this line of work without a little outside help.
I was fortunate. I saw right away that I was not going to stay as well as I could without that help. I was told on more than one ocassion that I was suffering from PTSD.
I guess I was.
The most stress I felt never came from where you would expect, however. The public we serve sees the fire service as a liability, a tax burden and something they pay for but never need. Until they do. The polititians they elect feel justified going after firefighters, demonizing them, labeling them as Union Thugs.
Imagine a soldier returning from an oversea tour of duty and being treated as badly. It simply would not be tolerated by the public.
I’ll never understand the open season mentality concerning firefighters. It is disheartening to hear all of the negativity from people who seem to know all about everything we do-until an emergency happens and they realize they don’t know all that much after all.