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Out of the shadows


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Hi Hotspot and welcome

Why do you feel so compelled to help others and yet so ashamed to receive help? What would admitting that you need help mean for you?

I hope you feel free to be yourself as much as possible on this forum and that you feel able to ask for support without necessarily feeling obliged to help others. Be whoever you NEED to be!!

X Chisholm

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Welcome out of the shadows, Hotspot. We're happy to have you here. It's okay to need support sometimes. I hope you will be gentle with yourself and allow yourself the comfort. When you feel comfortable with doing so, please tell us some more about yourself so we can get to know you better. Take care.

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Hi hotspot

You shouldn't feel embarressed about needing support, in fact I think that makes you stronger.

PTSD is common in what you do. Even those who pretend they can be tough and use dark humor can more than likely suffer from it. I am a first responder/firefighter and also worked as a crime victims' advocate. I too was embarressed when I was diagnosed with bipolar and PTSD, I mean here I am responding to crisis situations on a regular basis and I have a mental disorder. I soon realized that having a disorder does not define who I am or what I am capable of doing. But I also learned that I needed a support system. As caring and compassoinate person you are witness to some horrific things and how could you not carry that around with you..I still see some calls I responded to years ago quite vividly, colors, smells, sounds etc.

Do you have debriefings after an extremely bad call? In my department we had a team that was skilled in debriefings for members who were on a particularly bad call. We were encouraged to speak freely, even the tough guys would have to attend even if they didn't participate, I think they got something out of it. In one debriefing a statement was made by a facilator that helped me was "You are reacting normally to an abnormal situation".

I don't know if any of this helps, but I want to you to know you are not alone.

I hope by joining this community you will find support you need. I know it has helped me.

Shannon

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Hi again Hotspot,

I don't mind answering your questions at all, I have been a first responder for 16 years, I am a volunteer firefighter. Here where I am from there is not much difference from volunteer and career except one gets paid. We have to go through the exact same training as career personel before we can respond to calls, many of the career firefighters started out as volunteers here. I haven't been active with the department for the last 2 years however due to the fact that I am primary caregiver for my mom who has progressive MS and needs 24 hour care. As I have posted on my threads I have only one relief caregiver during the week. I miss it terribly, I live not far from the station, and I can hear the trucks go out and I watch them go by it's so hard. I hope to return some day. It was something I was good at it and it gave me a sense of belonging, it to is a busy department, we have a major state hwy that runs straight through our district. I miss the guys we were a tight group. They are quick to help me when I need it. And I agree that going out on calls helps subside things for that moment, your focused on what needs to be done to help whatever situation another is in.

I guess I should explained more about my disorder not defining who I am, of course I guess it does define me on some levels because it is a part of me, I just don't let it stop me from doing the things I do. I was good at my job as a crime victims' advocate and I loved doing that to. But for now my mom is my priority.

Sounds like we have common ground, I to had a good friend over 25 years ago, maybe closer to 30 years ago, that committed suicide. I remember feeling so angry at him for doing it. I would bounce through anger and sadness. He didn't confide in any one. Didn't seek help at all..when I think about it to this day I still feel the pain of it all, he left me the note. Sometimes I feel a little guilty over the anger because there was a time I felt suicidal, never followed through though. I love my family and friends and I remember how my friends death affected his families lives. I chose to seek help thats when I got the diagnoses of bipolar. But the dark times are hard to work through, and I get so tired of feeling this way and the need to have it all end is strong, but I keep going I don't know how I do it sometimes.

I hope Im making sense here having difficulty expressing myself today, my thoughts are still bouncing and racing around and its hard to keep on track..just hope you find some support in all this and this community.

Shannon

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Hi Hotspot

Welcome to the forum. This is my first forum also. Never even knew anything like this existed and like you thought if we share any life experience that can help, find support from others who are more understanding then most people then it is all worth the time and aggravation(sometimes :() of trying to get feelings and support over the computer screen to someone elses.

I have learned PTSD can affect and take over our lives at anytime. It did mine as well about a year and a half ago with repressed memories. That with a bipolar diagnosis can really become complicated as I am a type of person that needs control, but to NOT control others and to look back and reflect on my life as to the how and why this has happened.

That in of itself can open some good doors as well as some bad dooors but it is in the process that we learn. And with the right support of people, it can allow us to learn how to deal with the new way of life that we seemed to have been thrown into.

You mentioned your wife, if you have an open honest relationship, then you really need to share and keep her informed. You dont have to share every detail but just the fact she knows you are going through this will most definately help your relationship when it goes crazy as you try to cope.

My husband at first had some problems understanding the bipolar, so when the PTSD came in a full blown dysfunctional way of life for me it wasnt until we hit rock bottom that we both came up to realize we will always be together no matter what but more importantly that he will educate and learn how and why I have changed and how he can help. That change in attitude has helped us tremndousley. Maybe he feels he has a good kind of control of the control I have lost to help which is meant from the heart and that gives him the strength to continue to help and support me and raise our family through all of this.

I hope you continue to reach out and ask for help, find support and keep the supportive people in your life, family or not. I think taking away some of the triggers which might take you a long time to figure out and then understand, if you have the support and help to get you through then you will know you have the right support in your life....

:)

Edited by Lindamomof7
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Hi Hotspot

your welcome:)

I understand your difficulties with making these decisions. I didn't have a life filled with trauma like you have, but I understand that you grew up and functioned in a different world of men having strength and being the protector.

But what is on your side now that no one in your family or your fellow firefighters have is that there is a need, an accepted need that all people who deal with others trauma go through their own traumas. I guess 9/11 and the military helped that stigma become it's more accepted that everyone needs help.

I hope you keep reflecting and consiousley figure out what you need. I know that piece was so important to me. Also, even though the family may not totally understand, you have a chance to change that by being open and honest about what is going on.

I have found that if I am open and not try to hide my mental illness, I am inadvertantly teaching others to look at it the same way. And if they don't, oh well, they too are probably really screwed up themselves.

I have noticed how my kids ages 10-23 have handled all of this. Knowlege is everything I always say. I have always been open and have tried to use this as a teaching lesson for my kids. Especially since I have just found out I have a genetic predispostion becuase mental illness is on both sides of my family and my 3 only cousins are all struggling with depression.

They have been taught how to recognise if any of their friends are in need of help, we talk about cutting, suicide etc and it has opened their eyes up to the reality of teenagers being in crisis. And they have seen where some friends are having issues and I always tell them you are meant to help them not abandon them. I always tell them they better get an "A" in psychology when they take the classs...

And I guess they dont feel like it is a secret, because they have their own needs and talking to their friends only helps them understand and since I am the hub of all the kids gathering here, they may not always see me dressed.

They have many times seen me in my pj's and laying on the couch, but you know what, they understand and I guess have accepted it. So this is a big lesson for everyone becuase the generation before us was so abused (mentally and physically), and taught never to question or seek help for any type of help. So look how things have changed in this and the next generation.

I guess bottom line here is that you owe it to yourself and your family to stay healthy and happy. Instead of possibly alienating your family and friends, maybe this is a sign that you can be the one that makes a difference in not only your life but also helping the lives of your other fellow firefighters who might be afraid of the getting help themselves.

One of my hospital stays there was a very high ranking state policeman there. And he was there for depression. When we talked in group, and heard some of us talk about being victims, he had a very mixed feeling of how to handle hearing that. We were real people and his burn out feeling was from seeing the "victims" and then also having to deal with the perpetrators of those victims.

He was very sensitive and upset, traumatized after all these years. So I asked him how does the police handle their own troopers who go through their own problems, depression, trauma, he said they dont and it would be embarrasing if they tried to ask for help through the police psychiatrist.

I asked him if he thought it should be different the way they handle them when they are having mental problems and he said yes.

Since I just had an incident where I brought charges against a state policemen and won who mishandled me during a ptsd crisis, policemen in control are a major trigger for me. But I felt comfortable with him and my hypervigilence mode was eased, so I was talking from my experience and I gave him some suggestions that I thought would have helped me and the policemen and he looked at me like a light bulb went off and said he was going to go back to his barracks and set up a better system for the policemen to be better able to handle the stressors and trauma that they are going through.

So it can almost be a catalyst for change, a good change and it is our jobs to make sure the next generation is better able to handle and better able to recognize mental helath issues. And, that insurance companies stop treating us like second class citizens.

Sorry for the long post, I hope this helps you in any small way...

:(

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Hi again,:)

I agree with Linda on her last post. Things need to change. I am big on educating people about the brain disorder I have and I am quite open about it with my friends and guess what, they are still my friends. I think the tradgedy of 9/11 did bring to light how first responders and others on the job needed help in surviving the horror of it all. Notice I said brain disorder, lots of times I use this discription instead of mentally ill. I try and say to my friends and family that "I HAVE bipolar", not "I AM bipolar" I mean after all people don't walk around saying " I AM cancer". Anyway starting to rant a bit, but I agree with Linda on so many levels.

Tonight I am actually on my own, mom is at the hospital for a sleep study, So I get to try and sleep clear through till morning, wondering if I even remember how. But the great thing was tonight is drill night at my department so I stopped in to say hi to everyone. I miss them so much, just got home.

Ok, before a trail off again. A crime victims' advocate is just that. I would advocate on behalf of a victim of crime. My duties included crisis response along with law enforcement to scene, hospital or wherever if there was a violent crime against people, that included assault, sexual assault, domestic violence and homicides. At crisis stage we would be there with the victims or some cases the victims families, we would follow the case from reported, grand jury, and on through the court system..It was our job to be sure to notify the victim of what was going on with their case. We were a liason between victim and district attorneys. we would also prepare restitutions in the cases of damaged properties and thefts. The hardest was when I was the child advocate, won't go into detail here, but responding to hospital for a child or infant was very difficult. It was hard in many of the cases, both child or adult where it was all I could do not to show my anger. Lets just say at our office we had many behind the door "meetings" where we would let it all out. We had 3 victims advocates including my self and one was also the director for all of our county, we were supported by grants both state and federal, we worked all cases that had a victim, from petty theft to homicide. My grant was cut, and so now there are only 2 advocates that I know of. It was not a boring job. I started out working in a battered women' shelter back in 1990 and went from there. I fell into this line of work after being a victim of a violent crime. Thats pretty much of the guts of the descripton, I am sure I forgot something.

oops went on a bit, I loved my job and helping others and I had a great staff to work with.

I am glad you are finding support here, maybe you will become more comfortable with talking about your situations, toughts etc. , it will help you come to a decision on what the next step should be.

Wishing you well, Shannon

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Hi Shannon

wow where were you when I was 10 and had to expereince the grand jury and testify against a man who "violated" me. and where were you about 6 yrs ago when my husband and I opened a can of worms in our town and reported that we witnessed the detectives and police beat the crap out of a man in the middle of the street , in the middle of the night and almost kill him. That turned into a very political and heated trial in our town, we were on the front page of our papaer daily and we had to endure constant vigilance of our business and of our family safety and fear retaliation of the drunken detectives. Anyway, I could go on but it also could explain why I have a hard time with men in control especially if they have a badge and that I think it is what triggered my childhood stuff and it hasnt stopped since.

So good for you for helping make a difference in a persons life, wish you were here :)

So how was your night alone??

:o

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Hi Linda, where was I? Here on the Oregon Coast fighting against the very things you described. I feel really fortunate here cause law enforcement as whole here does not tolerate the very behaviors you experienced. I often did trainings for police departments teaching them about victim behaviors and the cycle of violence. I hope to one day return to Victims' Assistance. The victims of crime I have had the honor of getting to know were the most couragous and strongest people I have ever known. I get that feeling about you, you have had to learn to cope with such trauma and still here you are offering support to others.

My night was pretty good, weird not having her here, but I did get about 4 hours of unerrupted sleep. waiting for her to get home and get her settled in.

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Hi Shannon,

yeah I guess I have been told the very same thing by many people in this field and it feels good to hear. It helps keep me going and give me the strength to keep moving forward...

My therapist was just telling me the same thing last night. So thank you, it is nice to know. But at the same time I have been triggered here on the forum and have lashed out a few times in the past so I am not fully innocent here, just triggered.

We all need to help, accept and understand when one of us is in a funky place and truely understand when they are not feeling well and it is so hard with just "words", sometimes the message can get misinterpretttedand the conflict begins.

Glad you got some sleep, I'm sure it felt really good.

Yeah as far as I know, NAMI(national assoc of mental illness) provides the training for what you describe but I ran into a conflict when I was a member because when I had my problems with the state police, I asked for assistance in how to go about filing a charge or actually I just wanted to get my story heard so I can hopefully make a difference for someone in the future from being treated as I was. And figure this one, I was at a peer advocacy conference at a local University when he came and handcuffed me...

anyway NAMI members in the group supported me but the directors wouldnt because they felt it was a conflict of interest because they work with the police for training as you talked about. Something I didnt want to hear especially when i was emotionally incapapble of doing it myself, which is normally not me but I was once again "traumatized" by men with badges, men in control.

Well the police chief at the University called me and she said she filed a report on my behalf because she saw how I was treated and that gave me such a great and validating feeling, I finally went and signed my own complaint. A few days later I was in such a terrible place I had to check into the psych hospital.

I didnt want to sue, I didnt want one penny just the fact that I fought back as best I could made all the difference to me it cause alot of dissociative episodes, panic attacks but I did it and it turned out they did find him wrong and took appropriate actions against him...

Validation, what a great feeling...

:(

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What an inspiration, to stand up and say that this is wrong in the face of conflict and hanging in there to see it through. Not many people can do that, but you did. I see strength here and I am glad it turned out the way it did. You took the hard road because you knew it had to stop. It had to very painful at the time.

And I totally agree about validation being a great feeling, it's like someone has recognized what you are or have been experiencing.

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thank you Shannon.

Yes it was extremely difficult but I NEEDED to it. I think you know what I mean... And it is part of my right is right, wrong is wrng thinking. Sometimes that in of itself can catapult me into the uinknown, but for the good of me... :rolleyes:I think ??? I hope you understand that??? :confused:

Who knows I dont know if anyone elses goes through that but I sure know I do. Again looking back on my life and all of its pieces, I do see why and how I do what I do. Its meant for protection I guess...

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I think I know what you are talking about, doing something and not remembering it. For me, being in a extreme stressful and tired state I have done or said things and not rememer too. More like my body is on auto pilot and my brain is on such an overload it just wants to shut down, anyway thats what it is like for me during those instances. Hard to make sense of it. Not to mention the difficulty in making a decision when in that state, feels like just thinking in circles, if that makes sense.

I hope that you will be able to find a solution, I understand the concern for confidentality and facing the consequences if the powers that be found out you sought treatment for this, but on the other hand seeking professional help or at talking to family doctor might be needed to at least to get on back track. One of things I try to do is wright down what I am feeling kinda like a journal even if I tear it up later, but it helps me to think things through, a quest for clarity if you will, a record of my jumbled thoughts and a way to get them out. It works for me at times, don't know if it would work for you, this is just a suggestion.

In the meantime this community is a safe place to talk it out. Take care.

Shannon

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Hi Hotspot and Shannon

yeah I know the feeling to of not remembering. And I have to tell you it must really be frustrating to others who are close to us, but at least I can recognize it and just be open and honest about it and then others can also be forgiving or at least understanding as well....

Hotspot, its the illness talking.... and I think you could benefit greatly from seeing a therapist or counselor specializing in trauma. Like I said before I am so glad I switched from a regular therapist to one who has the expertise. I feel there is hope, hope that I can go down the road of tackling this stuck feeling I have.

That to seeems to be a reality as well. And from a physical perspective, I have learned that trauma is stored in the back of our brains and all the talking in the world wont really fully fix it becsue talking only affects the front part of the brain. So for me a therapsy called EMDR is suppose to help with that but I am really afraid of it.. Now maybe someone has a more clinical thought about this but this but this is the best I can do right now...

And depending on the type of person you are, for me, I need to know and reflect back and understand so I can then understand the here and now and hopefully with a little luck see a future of somewhat normal feelings and desires again. I think I am really stuck, afraid to feel better and if this seems odd, almost comfortable with living with no expectations. And that is totally not me, but it is safe. I guess i wont know what I cant do if I dont do it? Odd but it is keeping me out of the extreme's....

Hope everyone has a good day today :D

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Hi Hotspot,

no, what you have shared won't be laughed at.

But tell me, why do you think it is even more the wrong time to start counseling? As you said, what if someone was around? And what if someone got hurt? And if someone was around, what do you think that behavior would have done to them? More trauma being passed on?

I guess you do have to think about the "what if's"

And I guess maybe a thorough physical exam is needed? Have you had any head trauma?

In the past I have "lost" time a few times and that was when I was running away, some I remember, which at times I felt like a "ghost" and then some I don't remember. I have chalked it up to dissociative episodes. When I did some reading on dissoicative disorders, I didnt really see a connection but I guess when we are in our worst uncontrollable places, I guess it could be what I was experiencing.

I hope the best for you, Hotpsot, keep us posted... :(

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi Hotspot,

Welcome to our community.

As a fellow male we both know what it is like to be raised with the myth that "a manly man needs no help from others." Natually, that is nonsense because we all need help from one another. Also, there are times when us men need to cry. Its perfectly OK.

Can you tell us what caused your PTSD and have you thought about professional help for it?

Also, you should be able to post in our other forums now.

Allan

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Hotspot, no way are we going to laugh at you here. Obvisouly you are in pain and need help sorting it out. I only hope that you can find it and wish you would reconsider counseling and/or treatment that you would be comfortable with, in the meantime you can get support here but I fear that by holding all the pain in is damaging and said pain is seeking some sort of release, we can only be super human for so long. I hope by at least talking here you can release some of it, but remember that we are not doctors or counselors who are trained in this, however we will be your support team when needed.

Again, I find myself agreeing with Linda. It could be something physical, there are all kinds of chemical imbalances that can effect mental status, blood tests and exam may be a place to start.

I am sure your wife is very concerned and worried for you. When the one we love is hurting so bad it's hard to stand by and watch.

hope you can finish what you posted, and take care.

Shannon

Whether you decide to take action or not at this point, please, please continue to post us with updates and don't shut us out because we would like to see you get help.

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