Sobriety and Recovery
Post Reply
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
24-02-2017, 12:31 AM (This post was last modified: 24-02-2017 12:36 AM by RearViewMirror.)
Sobriety and Recovery
Let me preface this post with... I'm not looking for any accolades or recognition. I hate that. I got sober for myself and my family and that's it. If what I say helps one other person then what I post will be worth it in the end.

A few years ago I was diagnosed with PTSD. I have worked for the Fire Dept for 23 years. 5 years as a Firefighter, 5 years as a Driver (engineer), and 13 years as a Captain. I moved up the ranks pretty fast and have never been on a slow company in my career. My Company that I'm assigned to averages 2000-2500 runs a year so we are pretty busy. In 20 years I have seen some pretty horrific things and there are some things that you can't un-see.

I have watched a man kill his infant son by grabbing him by the feet and slinging him into a brick wall on the side of a apartment complex. The police couldn't reach him in time and we had just arrived on scene when this happened. But I saw the impact right when it happened.

July 3rd 1996 a man was changing his locks on his rent house because he was having trouble with his renter. The renter pulled up at the time he was changing the locks and pulled out a shotgun and shot him point blank range in the chest. The shooter then went into the bathroom and shot himself in the head with a 22 cal. pistol. The shooter was still alive when we got there. Do you know how hard it is to work on someone that has just done that to another human being? I was hoping that the owner didn't have a wife or children. He did.... A young wife who was pregnant and 3 small children. 4th of July will never be the same for them and one of his children will never know his father. I think about that every 3rd of July.

I could go on and on with many stories but it would take up the entire forum.



This was My Trigger:



Sept. 11, 2011. Ten year anniversary of 9/11. Made a run on an unknown medical in a neighborhood in our district. Arrived on scene only to hear a woman in one of the back rooms of the house counting... 1...2...3...4...5...1...2...3...4...5... I was first in the room and a woman in her early 60's was giving CPR to her 27 year old son in the floor. I took the woman out into the hallway while we were setting up because she did not need to see what we were about to do to her son. The last image she is going to have of her son was this and I didn't want to make it worse on her or her husband. Understandably she is beside herself and screaming. I have to be the voice of reason in times like these and gather as much information as I can. This one was tough. And there is a reason this one was tough.


She looked exactly like my Mom....



The ambulance arrived on scene and we worked him for quite some time. We sent our Firefighter to the hospital with the Ambulance and I remember climbing back into the pump and for the first time in my career I looked at my driver and said "That really bothered me".

After this run everything that I had kept locked away in whatever compartment in my brain overflowed and I couldn't gather it back up and put it back where I had kept it all those years. I prided myself on being able to do the hard runs and come back with no issues. That was no longer the case.

I spiraled into a deep depression and started self medicating first with Alcohol then whatever prescription drugs I could get my Doctor to prescribe me. I knew I had a problem and sought help with treatment but that didn't seem to work. Partly because I wasn't honest enough. I'm a Firefighter, I'm supposed to be the one helping people not the other way around. But I couldn't get the screaming from that woman that looked like my mother out of my head.

It all came crashing down one day a little over five years ago. I went out to eat with some friends and arrived at the restaurant at around 11:30am. At 2:30pm my wife sent me a text and asked if I was still there. I told her yes and that I had only had 2 beers. In reality I was probably working on #5 of the 32oz beers. To top it off... every time I would go to the bathroom I would take a Xanax or pain pill for the extra effect. Needless to say, I don't remember anything. At around 5:00 pm I called my wife to tell her she needed to come pick me up (at least I was smart enough for that) but I couldn't tell her where I was. She played me the voice mail the next day and I was unintelligible. Lucky enough she found out through friends where I was and picked me up.

I don't remember any of this except this one part. In the middle of the restaurant I passed out and my head hit the floor so hard that it snapped me out of it for a few seconds. I remember thinking... Damn that hurt and I've never been here before. I don't remember anything after that. My wife said that I tried to grab the steering wheel of my truck as she was driving and run us into oncoming traffic. I have no reason to doubt her.

I remember waking up the next morning and calling my wife. Lets just say it wasn't a good conversation. I have never been more ashamed of myself than I was that day. I knew that I had just hit my "rock bottom". I had 2 ways to go. In the grave or take care of this once and for all.

I picked my (then) 6 year old daughter up from school that day and took her for some ice cream. I told her everything that I had done. I needed to be held accountable for my actions from this day forward and it started with my Daughter and my Wife. I took 3 months off of work to get sober and I have not had a desire to drink or use since that day. I will not lie and say I am now just living day to day. I have the life I used to have and now the life that I am living and that takes adjustment.

In 23 years we have had 6 people commit suicide on the job. That is one person about every 3 - 4 years. Not a very good ratio in my opinion. I very easily could have been number 7. We have also had many people fired from the job because of drug abuse and testing hot on random drug tests. It is almost never the young member that test hot. It is without fail, someone that has between 15-20 years on the job and they are handling the stress in a self destructive way. I just got lucky and didn't overdose to a point that I couldn't come back. It is becoming very apparent that the fireground is no longer the most dangerous place on the job.

I personally believe that the only way to get yourself (myself) out of this mess is to actually hit that rock bottom. I was one of those people that thought PTSD was complete and utter bull shit. I'm looking across the field from the other side of the fence and see that I couldn't have been more wrong. I have learned to deal with it in my own personal way and I am extremely lucky that I have a great family support system. No one knew what I was going through until that day.

I hope none of you ever have to deal with this because it is truly hell. From the Military, LEO, Firefighters, Paramedics, to most any line of work it can happen and it can happen fast.

Please feel free to PM me if you feel so inclined. Getting it off your chest and knowing that there is someone else out there with your problem is the first and best step in this process. Some might think less of me and I honestly could care less. If what I posted helps one person then it was worth the embarrassment and shame on my part.

Thank you for reading this long winded post.

I get to decide what my life looks like, not the other way around.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 12 users Like RearViewMirror's post
24-02-2017, 08:27 AM
RE: Sobriety and Recovery
I applaud you for your sacrifice for others and your strength to right your own personal ship. I am an accountant and I've never been in the military or police or anything like that so I cannot reasonably understand what you've been through. However, I understand the love for your family and yourself to make things right. Keep going strong and be ever vigilant of the signs that you may regress.

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored- Aldous Huxley
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
24-02-2017, 08:35 AM
RE: Sobriety and Recovery
I had similar experiences as an ambulance driver and medic, more than 20 years ago to provide for my university degree. So I can relate in a manner. In my case all I have seen is still locked away, although I can recall every single body I've seen back then. As of now it doesn't haunt me, but I'm not sure if that will stay that way forever.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
24-02-2017, 08:44 AM
RE: Sobriety and Recovery
I'm sorry for the horrors you must have seen, I can't even imagine. I think oftentimes, many of us who are not in fields like that do not even realize all that people who are in those types of fields must deal with on an every day basis. Don't beat yourself up for looking for a way to escape all of that. You realized it was not the right way to escape from the stress and emotional toll and you got help and now, sounds like you also want to help others who find themselves in similar situations. I think what you did in turning your life around and what you are doing in trying to help others is very admirable.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
24-02-2017, 08:49 AM
RE: Sobriety and Recovery
(24-02-2017 08:44 AM)jennybee Wrote:  I think oftentimes, many of us who are not in fields like that do not even realize all that people who are in those types of fields must deal with on an every day basis.

Working the emergency services exposes you to the most ugly sides of humanity and society. Things that others like to brush under the rug. Violence, neglect, anonymous death. I've been shot at, have seen bodies at various stages of decomposure. Many start to grow a thick skin, but that's just a mechanism to cope.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes abaris's post
24-02-2017, 09:26 AM
RE: Sobriety and Recovery
(24-02-2017 08:27 AM)devilsadvoc8 Wrote:  I applaud you for your sacrifice for others and your strength to right your own personal ship. I am an accountant and I've never been in the military or police or anything like that so I cannot reasonably understand what you've been through. However, I understand the love for your family and yourself to make things right. Keep going strong and be ever vigilant of the signs that you may regress.

Thank you. Regression is always a possibility and that is what someone that finds themselves in this position needs to come to terms with. I've been very lucky to have a strong family support system to help me along the way. I've long past the point of craving a substance to cope with the stresses we all face but that doesn't mean that it couldn't happen again. I retire in a little over 4 years and I'm lucky because I get to retire when I'm 50. We are moving to Colorado when I retire since we vacation out there two times a year and were married in Colorado. My wife asked me sometime back "once you retire and we move maybe you can have a beer or two?". No way... One beer turns into two beers then two beers turns into twelve beers and the cycle begins again. I've been down at the bottom of that pit and the view from the bottom is suffocating. It's a hard climb out and one that I do not wish to do again.

(24-02-2017 08:44 AM)jennybee Wrote:  I'm sorry for the horrors you must have seen, I can't even imagine. I think oftentimes, many of us who are not in fields like that do not even realize all that people who are in those types of fields must deal with on an every day basis. Don't beat yourself up for looking for a way to escape all of that. You realized it was not the right way to escape from the stress and emotional toll and you got help and now, sounds like you also want to help others who find themselves in similar situations. I think what you did in turning your life around and what you are doing in trying to help others is very admirable.

You are correct that this thread is intended to help others that might be dealing with similar issues. But that said it also is therapy for me as well. It reminds me of where I was and how far I've traveled from that place in time. So it helps me and if it helps someone else then that is a bonus.

(24-02-2017 08:49 AM)abaris Wrote:  
(24-02-2017 08:44 AM)jennybee Wrote:  I think oftentimes, many of us who are not in fields like that do not even realize all that people who are in those types of fields must deal with on an every day basis.

Working the emergency services exposes you to the most ugly sides of humanity and society. Things that others like to brush under the rug. Violence, neglect, anonymous death. I've been shot at, have seen bodies at various stages of decomposure. Many start to grow a thick skin, but that's just a mechanism to cope.

I've been put in life and death situations many times throughout my career. I've been sent to hospital five times (so far) for work related injuries. And you are correct, you see the the absolute worst of humanity and the injustices that people deal with on a daily basis. The way I always handled the situations that I was put in was to dissociate myself from the scene. It was as if the training took over and it was as if I were working on "something" and not "someone". I realize that sounds callous and in a sense it is. But it's also a coping mechanism that allows you to perform the job you are tasked to do. The role of the Fire Service is simple in theory. Our job is to keep things from getting any worse than they are once we arrive on scene. That is our one and only job. Sometimes we can do that but sometimes it just isn't possible. Distancing yourself from that situation is a way to block out the horrors you see and the things that you are required to do. But when the time comes that you have an emotional connection with a patient is when the job becomes real in a sense. Once that happens it is very hard to bring back that coping mechanism.

I get to decide what my life looks like, not the other way around.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 2 users Like RearViewMirror's post
24-02-2017, 06:30 PM
RE: Sobriety and Recovery
Thank you for sharing. I can relate with many of the things you are talking about. I've been sober now for 27 years, but I remember all too well what it was like.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes skyking's post
24-02-2017, 08:39 PM
RE: Sobriety and Recovery
(24-02-2017 06:30 PM)skyking Wrote:  Thank you for sharing. I can relate with many of the things you are talking about. I've been sober now for 27 years, but I remember all too well what it was like.

Congratulations on 27 years my friend!

I get to decide what my life looks like, not the other way around.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes RearViewMirror's post
25-02-2017, 12:59 AM
RE: Sobriety and Recovery
I wish you the best, RVM, as a fellow in recovery, and former firedog myself.

It's a tough road, but you can do this. If there's any help I may provide, please let me know.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes Thumpalumpacus's post
01-03-2017, 10:47 PM (This post was last modified: 02-03-2017 12:45 AM by Geekgroupie.)
RE: Sobriety and Recovery
At least you have not seen atheists encourage someone to take their own life. That's what they did to me and when I came here saying I was recovering from atheist abuse, I got ripped a new one.

I've seen another distraught theist being encouraged to take his own life. He was hysterical and making threats of self harm being egged on by atheists to go thru with it. Oh, but they're just assholes , right? NO.. that was an atrocity.

I guess reading your story about witnessing suicides kinda helps me realize how much of an impact that had on me. I"ve been so miserable since I became an atheist that I wish I could go back to being a stupid theist. I wish I had never met atheists.

Christians embrace signs of weakness cuz they think its thru those weaknesses that god's grace shines. It seems as if most atheists despise signs of weakness and just have a toughen up MF attitude. Grow up they say. How easy it is to say that and just walk away. No one takes the time to actually encourage me on *how* to do so. I don't know.. I see most atheists as being narcissists unable to have compassion and empathy. That would explain it. i'm sorry for making this about me.. but ii'm kinda shook up.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply
Forum Jump: