If you’ve ever been in a relationship or are related to someone who works as a first-responder, you’ve probably experienced the effects PTSD in one form or another.
Unfortunately, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is not talked about as openly as it should be.
I had a conversation with my girl friend the other day whose fiance is a first-responder. (He also spent time overseas as a photographer in war-torn countries.)
She was relaying a story to be about how her husband-to-be freaked out about something menial when she was rushing home from work to come see him.
After angrily hanging up on her and then calling back to apologize, they had a conversation that evening where he inquired with her why he acts like that. He asked her, “Do you think it’s PTSD?” To which she replied, “I don’t know.”
I immediately interrupted her and told her, “Yes, that is PTSD.”
“Absolutely it is.”
But she only seemed to shrug it off.
It’s amazing to me that people aren’t aware of the signs and symptoms – even when they are staring them in the face and someone is acknowledging their situation and confirming their suspicions.
PTSD can come in many shapes and forms.
From outbursts to seclusion. From addictions to the inability to empathize.
A huge part of our relationship that I find difficult is the crossover from work to home life.
Most humans create an invisible barrier around themselves when dealing with high stress, traumatic situations. This enables them to be able to act in such a way so that they can do their job and save lives.
When they get off of work or come home from duty, the human brain is not designed to turn this barrier immediately from on to off.
Integration back into happy home-life for most is not seamless.
And if you suffer for years with that same psychological abuse, it becomes harder and harder to differentiate your work life from your home life with family.
How can we help those with affected by PTSD?
If you hadn’t concluded yet, we suffer the affects of PTSD in our family.
Luckily (I guess) my husband’s father was a police officer, so my husband has an idea of what it’s like to grow up with someone with PTSD.
Unfortunately for us, my husband works for an organization that does a terrible job of dealing with employees who suffer with PTSD.
They have no debriefing system or rest time after bad calls, an extremely weak counselling system (essentially no more than a 1-800 number), and a culture that punishes and shames the “weak.”
In 2015 in Canada so far, 31 first-responders and 9 military members have taken their own lives.
If our organizations aren’t going to support us, we have to create our own system of health for helping our friends and family members who are suffering from PTSD.
Support others who are suffering from PTSD and let them know that they aren’t alone.
Research and attend any sort of counselling you can get your hands on. Some first-responder organizations do offer counselling.
Demand that organizations take responsibility for their employees! They are their best assets so they shouldn’t be abusing them and leaving them to suffer in their personal lives.
Visit Tema’s website for more tools or to access their 24 hour helpline, call 1-888-288-8036.
Educate yourself and others. Know the signs and symptoms and don’t be afraid to let someone know you’re worried about them.
If you don’t know anyone you might have PTSD, donate to funds that support first-responders who may have to save your life one day.
Just as Tema’s motto says, Heroes are Human. They are vulnerable, they work extremely hard, and they are undersupported.
Let’s show them the love and support they deserve!
How have you and your family been affected by PTSD?