Online forums

Before you can post or reply in these forums, please complete your profile

Complete your profile

Before you can post or reply in these forums, please join our online community.

Forum membership is open to anyone residing in Australia.

Join the online community Community rules Coping during the Coronavirus outbreak

Forums / PTSD & Trauma / First Responders cry also

Topic: First Responders cry also

15 posts, 0 answered
  1. Boy in blue
    Boy in blue avatar
    3 posts
    29 November 2021

    Hi,

    I am extremely anxious about posting & not sure if I am in the right area. I feel like I have to get this weight off my chest.

    i am a first responder & have been for 21years.
    I have attended so many critical incidents that I was dubbed Dr Death by my colleagues - not a title I want at all.

    For the past 2-3 yrs I started to shut down & become a stone face emotionless person at work which crept into my personal life. So much so that I was on guard 24/7 (we were smashed into us you’re a police officer 24/7) & having a very difficult time being able to switch off.

    Gradually I became worse, even tho I’d put on a brave face & help as many ppl as I could. But I didn’t realise it was me that needed help until my bucket over flowed a few months ago.
    I would be okay to some degree at work but as soon as I hoped into my car to go home, I’d break down for no reason at all. I pushed this aside for a few weeks but I found myself crying at any sad events that were shown on tv, like seeing a child upset for loosing a parent in a movie would trigger me. Even though I knew it was fictional, I just couldn’t handle it.
    It got to the point that tragic events on the news send me in to a panic attack where I have to get out of the house and just run. I did this many times to the point I’d collapse due to exhaustion.

    I stopped all interactions with friends & going to family events as I only felt safe at home.

    I have recently been diagnosed with PTSD and depression & I am off work. I was asked if my work made any effort to talk or note events that I attended to, but being a supervisor, I looked after my troops but I wasn’t looked after. I am not blaming anyone but I can’t help but to think if only my supervisors were to record those events, would I be in this mess I am in now?

    I have some good days but mostly are bad with flashback & the nightmares & crippling. I know I am on a long road to recovery, but none the less I am on that road. I just wished I had of sought help 3 years ago when a mate asked if I was ok as I wasn’t myself anymore. I am trying hard not to blame myself but some resentment is there.

    So, as a male & as a first responder I am placing my hand up in the air to say I also cry & it’s bloody tough to say it, I need help & I am getting help from my psychiatrist & psychologist. And to be told to just get over it and toughen up by senior management I now know that those words were so wrong & damaging

    First Responders cry and it’s ok to do so.

    4 people found this helpful
  2. Maddeline
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    Maddeline avatar
    27 posts
    29 November 2021 in reply to Boy in blue

    Hi Boy in Blue,

    Thank you for posting and you are definitely in the right area. Being a first responder is really tough work, and it is very common to suffer from trauma due to the constant confronting work. I am happy to hear that you have sought help, and I am pleased that you are sending a really great message. It is okay to cry - no matter your gender - and it is 100% okay to ask for help.

    As for the resentment towards yourself, try to realise the great things that you did for yourself. The strength and courage it took you to realise that you do need help and that you did not feel like you were your normal self. Acknowledgement is a HUGE step and you are helping yourself everyday for that realisation as you are now on the path of recovery. The frustration of not being looked after, and having to get to this point is very understandable. But please try to focus on the present and seeing that those events (and your past) have led you to come on this forum and encourage and help other people - by showing that it is okay for first responders to feel this way.

    I would love to hear from you!

  3. quirkywords
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • Life membership is awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    quirkywords avatar
    13093 posts
    29 November 2021 in reply to Boy in blue

    Boy in blue

    firstly welcome to the forum and thank you for all your hard work ,

    Your post was so well written with honesty that I found it so moving and touching.

    Many people will read your post and know they are not alone.
    It is sad that you were told to just get over it and be strong instead of getting the help you needed

    I think speaking out I. This post you will be giving ope to so many men and women en.

    Thanks again for writing your heartfelt words.

    We are here to listen if you want to keep posting.

  4. Summer Rose
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Summer Rose avatar
    1623 posts
    29 November 2021 in reply to Boy in blue

    Hi Boy in Blue

    Welcome to the bb forum and congratulations for having the courage to share your story. I don’t say that lightly.

    I know that it takes enormous bravery to reach out for mental health help. It takes courage to tell your truth. And faith to trust that you will be responded to with kindness and compassion.

    I’m so sorry that you didn’t receive this from your superiors at work. From my life experience, I’ve found there are three types of people out there. Those who get mental health, those who want to get it but need information and encouragement and those who will never get it. You are unfortunately not alone in receiving an unhelpful response from work.

    Please, try not to dwell on it. Look at what you do have instead. A professional mental health team to help you heal. And a safe place here to talk, vent and receive and give support.

    One of my key learnings through the past decade of caring for a child with a mental health condition is that, there is always hope for better days ahead. Some days are just about getting through. Others will be brighter. And still others will feature progress. Take each day as it comes.

    Give yourself the time you need to heal and be kind to yourself. You are not to blame for anything; anyone can fall ill at anytime. But please remember, people can also get better.

    Kind thoughts to you

  5. Petal22
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Petal22 avatar
    1559 posts
    29 November 2021 in reply to Boy in blue

    Hi Boy in blue,

    Wellcome to our forums!

    Thank you for sharing your story and congratulations for seeking the help you need from health professionals it really does take courage.

    I understand the panic attacks I also suffered with this while I was going through severe anxiety OCD.

    I have now recovered from the condition I went through thanks to the help I received from health professionals……… it sure was a journey to recovery but I recovered!

    It took perseverance but all of the therapy I did was well worth it, to now be the person I am today…..

    You too can recover just keep seeing your health professionals and find a path towards recovery that works for you.

    Its ok to cry ……. I believe tears are healing…..

    Healing has no time limit things can hit you pretty hard while moving into recovery but I believe that’s the point of recovery we have to face things and relive them so we can then deal with the situations and move forward from them..

    Im sorry that your management responded to your mental health in the way they did, you deserved so much more than that! You are worthy and you deserve to have the mental health support from our professionals….. so you can live a full life.

    You are seeking help now and you should be proud of yourself for doing this…… try not to resent yourself.

    Forgive yourself for not knowing any better earlier to seek it….. be proud of you for seeking it now.

    Recovery is possible.

  6. Boy in blue
    Boy in blue avatar
    3 posts
    30 November 2021 in reply to Maddeline

    Thank you for your kind words.
    I do get it that I should not place any blame on myself, but I do to a degree.
    the warning flags were there and others saw it but I didn’t.

    As a male, we have always been told to suck it up, toughen up, take a spoonful of concrete and that’s his society saw males who were showing their emotional side. Are we getting better at it? I think so but I can’t fully see it. Especially when you have senior management telling you to that you need to just get over it. That’s when I truly knew that I am just a pawn who is replaceable.

    I appreciate your reply I wasn’t expecting anything I just felt like I had to say something, even though what I wrote is so small compared to what I could say


    1 person found this helpful
  7. Learn to Fly
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    Learn to Fly avatar
    240 posts
    30 November 2021 in reply to Boy in blue

    Hi Boy in blue,

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. Your post have moved me incredibly and I only wish we could see more people from the frontline telling us their stories. They need to be told, the public needs to know and learn not to take emergency services for granted. I commend you for speaking up and telling us how things really are for some. No matter how well trained you are, at the end of the day you are only another human having only a certain level of tolerance to all the terrible events you witness.
    I am glad to hear you have been properly diagnosed and getting professional assistance. I am sorry to hear you feel the management wasn't there for you when you needed them most. This must've hurt and felt like lack of gratitude and not being able to rely on those who shouldn't be to you "bosses" only but friends and colleagues after so many years of mutual service.
    Please feel free to share with us anything, whenever you feel like. Worse days, better days, whatever is going through your mind. We are here to listen and help as much as we can so you are not alone.

  8. Boy in blue
    Boy in blue avatar
    3 posts
    1 December 2021 in reply to Learn to Fly

    Thank you for your reply. It is greatly appreciated.

    I am not sure how to solve the issues that present to frontline workers. I have near gone completely manic trying to figure out a solution.
    From the academy we were told to put on that brave face as the community depends on you to get the job done & that’s what we did. In time this taught me to switch off my emotions, which I know this is an oxy moron but we also had to show empathy. I became so good & well versed in being able to switch off that I forgot how to switch my emotions back on. This has had a major affect on my personal life, with those who I cared about the most ended up pushing me aside because I didn’t know how to connect, how to switch on again. I’d just come home exhausted both mentally and physically with a stone look upon my face.
    I’d often found myself not being able to sleep if I had attended to a critical incident where someone has lost their life. I would spend the night going into my kids bedroom just to make sure that they are okay & that they were breathing. My partner at the time didn’t know I was doing this until one night I came home & just sat in my son’s bedroom making sure he was okay. I tried to explain why but I didn’t tell her much. I actually never told her much at all about work as what I have witnessed & been involved in would traumatise her & I didn’t want to burden her. That was a major issue & started the decline in our relationship that I wouldn’t talk about work.
    I didn’t want anyone to have the pain I was going through. That little voice in my head, ‘don’t be weak, you’re a bloke, you’re suppose to be the strong one. Toughen up. Get over it….. it was only those who you attended the incident with understand what you went through. The old debrief with alcohol numbed the pain but it didn’t go away. I did a abuse alcohol as a way to cope. This wasn’t the answer & I knew it at the time but couldn’t stop. It’s only since I hit rock bottom & started to receive help that I can see how much I needed help and how much of a emotionless black hole I was towards those who cared deeply for me. There were times that I wouldn’t talk to anyone for weeks on end at home. But at work, that brave face would be put back on day after day, shift after shift & in the end, I was so out of touch that it was too late.
    It’s a long road that I am on & there will be twists & turns that won’t go my way, but I’ll keep moving fwd as there is light at the end of the tunnel… I hope.

    1 person found this helpful
  9. Shelll
    Shelll avatar
    7569 posts
    1 December 2021

    Hello Boy in Blue,

    Are you finding it helpful to unload some things here?

    Here is an old thread someone else started, maybe it would help you. I don't know.

    There is also a member on here called Croix... I am pretty sure he would understand

    Here is the link

    https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/online-forums/ptsd-trauma/ptsd-for-medical-and-first-responders

    1 person found this helpful
  10. Sophie_M
    Community Moderator
    • Works for beyondblue moderating these forums
    Sophie_M avatar
    6164 posts
    1 December 2021 in reply to Shelll
    Hey Shelll,
    All Boy in Blue has to do is copy and past the link into the browser and the thread should technically pop up.
    1 person found this helpful
  11. geoff
    Life Member
    • Life membership is awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    geoff avatar
    15594 posts
    2 December 2021 in reply to Boy in blue

    Hello Boy in blue, you can be taught what to do and how you should express yourself in different situations you have to visit, but personally, it doesn't allow you to express your true feeling and how awful this has been and can affect your own lifestyle.

    The problem is you don't want to share this with anybody and can understand why not but the longer you hold all of thoughts to yourself, then the next terrible situation you visit is only going to be added onto the previous experience you're holding in.

    That brave face you display at work is not going to be strong enough to carry home and express what you have been through, but it will affect your family trying to find a reason why you are like this and to view this experience must be so difficult to try and adjust.

    Some people are not able to fill these positions because, and understandably, their reaction is not suited to being in a job like this and asked to be employed in another section.

    There is no fault at all and you could ask to be moved.

    Geoff.

  12. mmMekitty
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
    mmMekitty avatar
    1801 posts
    2 December 2021 in reply to Boy in blue

    Hello Boy in blue, & Welcome to the forum. I read your posts late last night, & was moved to tears, for how much you are suffering as a result of the job you do. May I say, the slack response from your supervisors to your struggles, which I am also certain are more common than most would realise is very disappointing.

    A combination of your upbringing, societal expectations, & the attitudes being re-enforced during your initial training, & I am not surprised how much PTSD there surely must be amongst first responders. I fear it’s another system which needs to be rebuilt in order to recognise & respond to the needs of it’s employees much more than it does. It also needs to recognise the secondary & tertiary impact of it’s culture, upon family & close relatives & friends.

    You’ve done so much good for the community, yet you were repaid with ‘buck up. Be a man’. So you put on that stony face, & doing that, as you know, causes further damage to yourself. You wind up doing exactly as you did, trying to cope, blaming yourself for ‘failing’ (not so), to be a man, admonishing yourself for your distress, drinking to ease the pain, forget, or if only to temporally give yourself a break, all the while knowing, it’s an inadequate bandage, but what else do you have?

    In my own way, I’ve been there, not to the extreme end of what’s possible, to be sure, but I feel I can empathise.

    I’m very glad you have help from a Psychiatrist & a Psychologist. It took me much more than three years to seek help, & some never do.

    You have support here, too, & we’ll be listening, & sending you boxes of virtual tissues, too. (We have an infinite supply). I had felt I could not allow myself to cry either, because then what I was going through would show, & cause strife around me, so stayed silent, & kept my emotions tightly in check for years. But they won’t be held in forever. &, moreover, shouldn’t be. It ain’t healthy. So, cry all you need,& talk in between, or while, if you can, to the people you trust. That’s what’s healthy.

    Hope we continue to hear from you.

    Warm regards,
    mmMekitty

    1 person found this helpful
  13. Croix
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • Life membership is awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    Croix avatar
    10580 posts
    2 December 2021 in reply to Boy in blue

    Dear Boy in blue~

    Warning - this is blunt and includes mention of suicide.

    The first time I started to cry it was terrible, not only did it hurt as I kept gasping wracking breaths, but there was fear as I'd no idea why I was doing it, and shame. Oh boy, not a pleasant recollection.

    Your story reads just about the same as mine, and for the same reason. As an OIC of a small station in the Force I had some MOF to look after but was not looked after myself by others. Nobody told me anything. Even my GP was concentrating on my physical symptoms.

    I believed all the unworkable expectations of manliness and being on duty 24/7 - and all was good for a fair while, then over the years I had physical symptoms, plus the mental ones you describe and more. Plus personal relations hit rock bottom.

    I ended up with the usual suspects ; suicidal ,PTSD, bouts of depression and permanent anxiety. Then found myself invalided out of the Force and told I was TPI (totally permanently incapacitated). On the scrap heap.

    Why have I gone to so much detail about me? This thread is about you after all. The reason is so firstly you do not feel all alone, it happens to many. And secondly to demonstrate there is a lot of hope. A life for you to look forward to, and hopefully personal relations again.

    It took you a long time to get as bad as you are, and a huge amout of work related trauma. So it's only reasonable to expect it will take a fair while to get to the stage where the PTSD symptoms lessen, your life becomes livable and you can enjoy once more. I'm there.

    There's only one thing I'd say by way of advice today, if your medical team is provided by the Force there is a potential conflict of interest. You, like me, need to consider an independent team who is on your side 100%. Otherwise it is conceivable you may be encouraged to return to duty prematurely.

    That's enough for one innings. I hope we get to talk more.

    Croix

    2 people found this helpful
  14. Croix
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • Life membership is awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    Croix avatar
    10580 posts
    2 December 2021 in reply to Croix

    P.S. I forgot to say firstly you have come to the right place, there are lots of people here who can understand as they have had similar or parallel experiences, and secondly don't be anxious about being here, the folks are friendly and your anonymity is secure.

    Yes it does help to talk, and you might gain info that helps.

    -C

    2 people found this helpful
  15. Learn to Fly
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    Learn to Fly avatar
    240 posts
    8 December 2021 in reply to Boy in blue

    Hi Boy in blue,

    Maybe there is no straight forward solution to the issues presented to the frontline workers. You might trouble yourself and stress over it wanting well but being overwhelmed by the scale of it. It’s not a job for one person, however, it has to start from one person and then another and another, and so it grows. The strength will be in people who decide to reach out for help and possibly speak up. Just as you did. This was an incredible achievement on your behalf. Lots of people read posts here. I have no doubts you will encourage and help some of them.
    You are a pretty amazing person, Boy in blue.

Stay in touch with us

Sign up below for regular emails filled with information, advice and support for you or your loved ones.


Sign me up