Paramedic Nat

A Blog About a Paramedic's Mental Health Journey


September 2016

I Was a Paramedic!


I remember telling people over the years that being a paramedic was not the be all and end all of my identity. Yes, I loved my profession (and still do), but I was positive that I could take the good memories that I had and ‘move on’ to a different profession if need be. Wow, was I wrong! I am learning now how being a paramedic is deeply rooted in my psyche. For fourteen years it allowed me to feel like I was making a difference in the world every day. It gave me purpose and filled me with a passion for education. It allowed me to provide financially for my family. I was proud, happy and accomplished. I WAS A PARAMEDIC. Now…well I don’t know what I am.

I have come to the conclusion that I am without a doubt grieving the loss of part of my identity. So many people would give anything to stop doing their job, but I was never one of those people. Not to be insensitive to other professions, but being a first responder is more than just a profession, it’s a passion, and now having to accept that I may for the rest of my life be doing a job that I am not passionate about because I have a mental injury is very difficult for me. Allow me to elaborate…

I went from closing down highways so that helicopters could land, to closing the fridge on a good day if I choose to eat. I went from phoning base-hospital physicians to get permission to pronounce a death, to being suffocated by anxiety and not able to phone anyone at all. I went from performing life saving skills such as chest needles and intubations, to only being able to perform the life saving skill of taking my own breath. I went from teaching others how to run a dynamic cardiac arrest, to teaching others how to leave me alone so that I don’t get triggered. I went from feeling pride when I put on my uniform, to not being able to look at my uniform at all without bawling my eyes out. I went from racing to calls with the lights and sirens on, to the racing of my heart even while I’m alone in my house. I went from having friends at work to laugh with every day, to barely seeing those friends at all. I went from feeling successful, to feeling like a failure.

Don’t get me wrong, any job is a blessing, but being a paramedic is more than just a job, it’s part of who I amand rewiring that part of my conscious and subconscious world is exhausting, confusing and very difficult.

I’m not trying to sound like a complaining, ungrateful person. All I’m saying is that changing a part of me that I loved SO MUCH is not easy.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the 5 stages of grief, you can learn them by watching this super cute clip below. I think I’m close to number 5…acceptance.


5 Facts About My PTSD Symptoms


Living with a post traumatic stress injury sucks. Living with addiction and depression sucks. Let me highlight some reasons why.

  1. I often can’t remember who you are. I know that it’s common to forget a name when we meet an individual again, but I literally forget that I have ever even met you at all! This doesn’t happen all the time, but it’s common enough that I avoid large gatherings for fear that the person whom I’m talking to is expecting that I remember them. I try so hard to practice name association, but that memory technique is completely useless when I can’t remember that we’ve ever met.  It’s an embarrassing fact about my life now.
  2. I rarely leave my house. I’ve become somewhat of a hermit. I try to get out and enjoy the nice weather, but there is not a single bone in my body that wants to do so. Noises like motorcycles, loud mufflers, chainsaws and busses put me into full anxiety mode. I try to plug my ears fast enough, but it’s usually too late. When the noise comes at me all I want to do is sit in my room with my fan on which provides enough white noise to block out the world and to have a window open from time to time.
  3. I can be very apathetic. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a caring person; buried deep down is my desire to help people all the time – which makes sense as I have been a paramedic for fourteen years. But allowing strong emotions such as love to bubble to the surface as much as I allowed it to before, is very scary to me. My ability to logically match an appropriate reaction to an emotion has changed, often causing me to worry and over reacted to something quite minor. So I avoid feeling all together. My kids are a different story, I love them so much I could explode, but as for any intimate relationship in the future I am doubtful any will last, so I imagine myself living alone on a mountain, and somehow I’m completely ok with that.
  4. I constantly fear that you don’t believe me. There is a liar in my head that tells me that anyone who has not experienced PTSD, depression or addiction doesn’t believe me. It tells me that people are just nice to my face, but that behind closed doors they roll their eyes and laugh at me. I suppose that’s why almost ALL of my friends have changed to one’s who ‘get it’, and that’s ok. I know that for the most part that people support me, but the liar convinces me from time to time that even my closest friends and family think I’m putting on somewhat of an act. That I could just pull up my sox and stop being so glum and useless. It’s funny how I think that people think that I want to be sad.
  5. I forget really important things. Not only do I forget that I’ve met you, I forget things that are super important. Doctors appointments, to pick people up…heck I even forget what I’ve forgot!  Eff!

The struggle is REAL.

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