When I was younger my older brother, who I love dearly, would put his hand an inch from my face and say, “I’m not touching you, I’m not touching you.” It drove me crazy, and he thought it was hilarious. It was all good fun and only lasted for seconds, but it was mental torture.
I know there are people spending their days pretending that everything is normal. They wake up with a pit in their stomach; their minds racing and running amok in the night while they sleep. They drag themselves out of bed and wonder how they’re going to make it through the day. They drive to work hoping nothing serious happens because they don’t know if they’ll be able to handle it. They make their way through the day by faking it to everyone around them, while they are on the verge of losing it all.
“How’s your day going?”
“It’s great! How about you?”
Do people really want to know how your day is going? What would happen if you really told them?
If you’re reading this and thinking, how does he know exactly how I’m feeling? It’s because this feeling is not unique to you; many feel this way. The trick is to realize that you’re not alone and to get help. This isn’t something you have; it’s something that happened to you. Confront your demon before it overtakes you.
Keep an eye out on your coworkers who may be suffering in silence, and do not overlook the signs. You don’t want to find your partner dead in the ambulance from an overdose while trying to reassure yourself that you had no idea he was sick. Below is a link to details on how to recognize and help a coworker you may think is suffering from a mental health issue.
There are many of you who may think I’m sensationalizing PTSD and only mention the dark side of EMS. Many more of you are believers in the negative stigma when it comes to mental health among emergency workers. “You knew what you were getting yourself into, get back to work!”
“If you can’t handle it, do something else.” The fact is that this job is killing many of us and that doesn’t need to be the case. There is help and a way to recover so we can feel confident and return working with a healthy mind.
According to Stats Canada, 11.5 per 100,000 people in the general population will commit suicide. For paramedics in 2015, the rate was 47.16 per 100,000 people. There is always someone you can reach to, and there is always someone who will help you pull away from this beast.
Though the “I’m not touching you” game seems trivial, imagine having that poking feeling inside of you for years—something that just never quits. Something that only intensifies when you sleep. How many years could you handle that? What options do you think you would have to make it stop? The answer is to call a friend and have them beat the crap out of your mind game.