Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Depression, Change, Friends, and Recovery.

It has been a while. During this time I have changed jobs, had some family problems, and I fell back into the an old enemy, depression. We in EMS are big on hiding from our pain and acting like it doesn't affect us. We often hide through substance or self abuse. I personally became aware of it when I snapped on my wife and made an inappropriate statement in front of a patient. These are out of character for me, and this showed me that I was having a problem. My old pal depression was back.

Depression is an affliction that strikes many in EMS. We are told to get tough. If it shakes you, then you are in the wrong job. You should not allow yourself to become that close. Just put it behind you, you can't do anything about it. But that doesn't work, because to be good at what we do, we have to be able to empathize with our patients. Empathy requires that we feel. It cannot be faked or compensated for.

So on to my story, when I was shocked into action, I started reaching out. Many of those that listened to my private rants and offered help are members of the Code Green Campaign. I was also offered assistance from my employer, which was welcome. My employer has a plan in place to assist employees in trouble that is available from day one.

So far, I have been able to avoid medication, but I was forced to do some serious introspection and evaluation. I am doing better, but I am still considering medication. I am going to share some of the things that helped me. The most important thing was to admit that I was depressed. You cannot beat this or even fight it without admitting it. I know people that have ruined their lives trying to drink, use drugs, or sleep around till they feel better. This does not work. It will make things worse, causing often irreparable damage to you relationships, the very ones you will need to ensure you make it through this.

I took a step back and examined what I wanted to do with my life and was EMS part of it still. I recently changed jobs, and increased my commute for slightly less money, but it was improved by the increase in benefits. I also had a truly private problem, that I will not discuss here. But in changing jobs I left the state I started in. I was not happy working under the system I was in. Even though the system was systemically broken, I felt as though I had given up. That was part of the problem. I had also labored under that system with the goal of changing it. I had to leave.

So I took I reached out to those who were on my side. I talked to people who had been through it. I also read some articles that allowed me accept that my emotional involvement was a good thing, something I should have remembered. Also I was reminded that leaving is sometimes necessary for perspective and growth. But it made me feel like I was a failure. See in leaving Illinois, I realized I had to abandon that fight from the frontlines. It was like a divorce. Probably for the best, but still feels like a failure. So I am winning the struggle. It isn't over yet, but I am happier now.

The following blogs are part of what helped me.

These are but a small amount of the EMS blogs out there that I read. They allowed me to accept that I was ok. Changing jobs, feeling pain, these things are ok. Asking for help when it hits is ok as well. Sometimes, you have to understand that you can't change the world alone. If you are a provider that is in this place. Message me on here. Ask your friends Ifand employer for help. Talk to someone. You are not alone. EMS Suicide it a disease we inflict on our own. I refuse to be in that statistic. I hope you agree.

To those who helped me, actively or passively thank you. To those who are in trouble, you are not alone. Please visit and donate. These folks do good work.

Thank you for your time,

Lone Medic