Sunday, August 10, 2008

Firefighters Story

Although being a firefighter caused me to suffer from recurring acute PTSD, I wouldn't change my career. What I would however change, was the idea that suffering from a mental health issue was to be kept a dark secret and not seeking out help. This is why I am writing and sharing my story, in the hope that people will read my story, and it will cause them to know that it's okay to get help. We as a society have to change and erase the stigmatisms that go with having a mental health issue. I have gone through treatment and have been successful in returning to work as a firefighter. I now have an opportunity to help others, not solely as a firefighter, but now as someone who has "been to hell and back" as I have come to call my journey, and this gives me an opportunity to share this journey with others as someone who has experienced first hand having a mental health issue, and all that goes with the many issues that accompany being diagnosed with having a mental health issue. After completing my therapy I was looking for a way to help others, it was a mission of mine. Still searching, I heard the "You know who I am" campaign with spokesperson Danielle Alfredsson making headlines and I knew immediately that this was my opportunity and provided an avenue to help others by telling my story publically. This is my way of "giving back" if you will for all the help I received. This is also part of my continued therapy, and healing, which I continue to go through. This gives me a chance to use my "education and understanding" with regards to my personal diagnosis of PTSD and the myriad of symptoms which I was afflicted with. I'm hoping that anyone reading my story will be inspired, and know that they are not alone, as many will recognize many of the symptoms I will talk about. I know that for me personally it gave me great comfort to know that there were others who were afflicted as I was, and that I was not alone. I hope that all of you reading this and my future writings who may be suffering from your own mental health issues or diagnosis or families who have loved ones that have been diagnosed will take comfort in the fact that you are not alone, and I welcome your comments and questions as I continue to write my story. We need to have an open dialogue in order to start erasing the stigmatisms that hang over those of us who have been diagnosed with a "mental health issue." It is my real hope that this will occur right here, right now as I continue to write in the future. Thank you, Larry