Finding company in the shadows.

Yesterday was long and exhausting.

I attended a suicide, trauma and mindfulness in first responders workshop in Red Deer yesterday. It made for an early morning, as the all day event started at 0800, and concluded around 1630.

It was definitely a worthwhile day. The speaker is someone who has lived with the trauma of the job for over two decades, and has begun helping others to find healing.

There were around 150 people from accross the province at the workshop split up into different tables. All 7 of us at our table were given the opportunity to share our stories with each other, and talking about my story I think I helped the others at the table. I know that the day solidified my thoughts on which direction I want to go in my life.

I’m not saying I want to become a motivational speaker, such as the presenter yesterday, but I do feel that I have much to offer in a peer type setting because I am not alone in this journey. The difference between me and many other first responders is I am ready to discuss this dark topic that until recent years has been left in the shadows.

The overwhelming take-away I had from yesterdays session is that I’m not alone. In yesterdays workshop, I sat shoulder to shoulder with EMS providers, RCMP and city police members, nurses, dispatchers, therapists, and corrections officers.

No, I’m not working ambulance any more. I miss it, but the trauma from the job made it so I can’t go back. Combined with my other diagnose I hurt, mentally anyways. I hurt, but I can still give back. I gave up a lot of years working on ambulance. I gave up a few more when the trauma built up and it became untenable for me to stay on. With everything I’ve been through, I think I do have much left to offer. Sitting with the others at the table yesterday one resounding thought crossed my mind. “You are not alone.”

I’ve walked through the shadows, and I’ve felt alone. I’ve felt that no one can feel as bad as I do, and that it must be a weakness or failure of character. The thing is, like anyone who works frontlines, the job will take it’s toll on you, and you are not alone walking in the shadows.

If you are struggling, reach out for help. A colleague, a family member, a doctor, or a therapist. Reach out for help. You are not alone, and help is out there. My story, and my discoveries are proof of that.

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher, 1864-1900.


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