Sunday, August 24, 2008

FirefightersStory-Starting My Downward Spiral

I have hid so much, from so many. It is very emotionally draining for me to try to explain here on this very public forum, and I have to admit that I am very scared about revealing such personal thoughts and feelings I have felt and struggled with in my "journey to hell and back". It's all true though, and I am hoping that by telling you all, it will be an education for you, to give you strength and learn from my experiences and what I have felt and gone through so you will realize that you are not alone.
Since this will be hard for me, I know, and very lengthy, I'm sure, as there are so many symptoms, feelings and emotions that I went through, I will try to list and explain them to you and for you, and then write small pieces about each and how it played a part in my sickness. My doctor, and she is the greatest in "my eyes", has taught me well, and by this I mean that I have to continue to take care of myself first, and know my limitations. I will use the term I heard her use with regards to my "recovery", and that is that I am still "fresh". I am always wary about just how "fresh" I am, and so we'll do this a little at a time, slowly. If not, I know she'll be giving me a "Big V-8 Slap!!"
The only thing that kept me from deteriorating at a much faster pace after the fire on Penny Dr with "my kids", as I call them, was that at the time my father was terminally ill and I was taking care of him at his home as he didn't want to die alone in a hospital. When I wasn't in the fire station, I was at his bedside. That's the ONLY thing that kept me going after I lost all control of my life, family, and career. I truly believe that. Focussing on my father allowed me to keep living.
Without that focus, that reason, I wouldn't have lived for long after that fire and losing those kids. You can read between those lines, as I'm not ready to write about what I was thinking about doing in some of those dark days that I was encountering. It was a struggle for my life though. And, there would be more, as my life and struggle continued onwards, and downwards.
Out of control. No control. Losing control. This was how my whole life felt. I don't know how I continued functioning, let alone working. As I said, I was in what I call "survivor" mode, and
I was really scared.
I had so much coming at me that I didn't understand, or know how to fix or control that I was deteriorating to the point that I had only enough energy to somehow continue to work, and perform my duties as a firefighter (somehow??) but absolutely nothing else. I remember that some days I would spend most of my day either asleep, or sitting in a chair in my livingroom, scared to go out just in case someone would "know" that I was sick. I started to deteriorate and become a recluse, as I was "sick" and different now, not normal as I said, or so I thought. I felt extremely embaressed, not deserving, ashamed inside for feeling and being this way. Who would want to be associated with me? What would they think of me? Was anyone onto me at work? Were people noticing things and changes in me? There's many many more questions that I had that will follow in future writings though.
I was trying to "hide" in plain sight as they say. I had such a good facade and learned to hide and keep my "secrets" so well that no one knew at work. At home, although I thought Iwas doing a good job of hiding my troubles, my wife knew, but didn't broach the subject. This obviously was not her fault though, as she too was alone watching me deteriorate and not knowing what to say or do for me, or our family as a whole. You just don't talk about mental issues, that was what society said to do. She was watching and losing the person she once knew, and was also so scared that she couldn't talk about it with me or anyone. So, we were both silent and denied. Pretend that nothing was wrong. It'll go away, or if we don't acknowledge that there's a problem, then we won't have to deal with it. There will be no problem. Right?? Besides that, I was still trying to "fix it" and hoping and telling myself that everything would pass and somehow it would all go away. Right? That's extremely destructive as I know now, in regards to mental health problems, denial, and not getting help. You can end up losing it all. Everything.
That's why we MUST talk openly about mental health issues! This is why I am choosing to talk openly about MY mental health issues now. I just about lost it all.
Till next week, Thanks, Larry