Remembering 9/11, its impact on my mental health journey

Due to the smoke from forest fires the moon was an orange-red on Sept. 10, 2022. (Kevin J Sabo photo)

It seems almost fitting that the full moon last night was red.

Twenty-one years ago, the United State was hit with an almost unimaginable tragedy. The events of Sept. 11, 2001 are forever etched in my mind.

Photo by Itzyphoto on

I remember waking up to a phone call that morning from mom, telling me to turn on the television because there had been a significant terrorist attack in New York city. I don’t know that my feet touched the floor as I hopped out of bed and ran down the hallway of the apartment to the living room.

The television turned on as the second plane hit the World Trade Centre. The enormity of the moment was not lost on me. Over 3,000 people lost their lives that day, including 343 New York City firefighters.

I’d been struggling with my mental health for a few months at the time the world stopped turning, and my first hospital admission ended up occurring a few weeks later. My diagnosis of borderline personality disorder came indirectly from being triggered by the events that fateful September day.

I’m sure the diagnosis would have still occurred, but I’m also equally sure that the process sped things along. The problem with borderline personality disorder is the sufferer feels things intensely, and with the news cycle at the time following 9/11 coverage for weeks after the events of that fateful day, along with some strife at home, and I had the perfect mixture to set me up for an extended depressive episode.

Another part of what was impacting me was the fact that I was a first-responder as well, being a freshly-minted Emergency Medical Responder, and despite living in a completely separate country the loss of 343 firefights, plus paramedics and police hit me hard. I didn’t feel like I had to know them for it to affect me, I was part of the brotherhood of blue.

Anyways, it look some time but I got myself figured out enough to get back to work; eventually. When I went back, I went back with a redoubled commitment and love for the job. It was a commitment that I stuck with, until I ultimately ended up leaving for good in 2013 after I had attended one call too many and my mind shattered.

September 11, 2001, is a pivotal day in the history of the early days of the twenty-first century. Even over two decades later, if you ask someone where they were that fateful day chances are high they will remember without hesitation.

On that day, so long ago, over 3,000 people got up, went to work, caught their flights, and went about their day not knowing that by just after 9 a.m. New York time, their lives would be snuffed out, leaving their families to pick up the pieces.

I’ll be honest, I’ve often wondered why I let the events of Sept. 11 bother me the way they did. However, over the last 21 years I have learned that I am definitely an empath and it would not, and should not, have happened any other way.


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