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Forums / PTSD & Trauma / PTSD for Medical and First Responders

Topic: PTSD for Medical and First Responders

  1. A Tech
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    4 May 2015

    Hi,

    Well obviously this my situation.

    I was hoping to find others here that might have a similar background to chat with, it can be so hard to talk about this stuff with non-med people (and I mean no disrespect, it's just often graffic or upsetting to others).

    Im a 40 year old female that has spent the last 10years in the State Trauma Hospital as an Anaesthetic Technician. My PTSD was brought about after years of exposure to shocking traumas, deaths, and no support from management.

    I would love to hear from anyone that has a similar story, or just wants to chat.

    Cheers ✌️

     

    6 people found this helpful
  2. geoff
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    5 May 2015 in reply to A Tech

    dear Gas tech, welcome to the BB forum, and I have read your other post with all the information that our manager Chris has supplied for you, so firstly I hope that some of these have been helpful for you.

    PTSD and all the trauma that you had to encounter must have been appalling to see, and to try and cope with it all is never an easy feat, and that's why you have posted under PTSD.

    I'm sure that there will be many people who have also encountered this illness because of certain circumstances, either medical, part medical or because of other situations.

    Myself I suffer from PTSD although that's what my psychologist tells me because of an injury that left me with a blood clot on the brain back in '83 and then a severe vehicle accident in '97.

    The sights from badly injured, burnt or loss of limb people is certainly not what I would like to see everyday like you had to view, sure you may get used to it and take it as 'second nature', but there can be a point where it becomes far too much and have to leave your job due to having a breakdown.

    I'm sure that this is quite common not only for young nurses but also for doctors and this must have happened to you, so are you getting any help for this, and I'm also not sure whether you are still working. L Geoff. x

    1 person found this helpful
  3. CrashCoyote
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    5 May 2015 in reply to A Tech

    Hi Gas tech,

    Cute avatar!

    I am a 51 yo retired NSW Police Sergeant and spent most of my thirty years on the streets of south west Sydney as a first responder. I have lost count of dead and injured people I have met, but it would be well over a thousand. Car crashes, shootings, stabbings, beatings, industrial incidents, child abuse, suicide by train and others.

    I'm happy to chat if you want. I have often wondered how paramedics and trauma personnel manage the injuries of people brought in from the roadside environment. I mean, it isn't like planned surgery where the patient doesn't eat for eight hours before, or drink alcohol, or take unknown medications. You guys have people that may be drunk, may have a just eaten a pizza and popped some party drug of unknown chemical composition, be combative and so on.

    In the police, and in my day, management were not really good at providing support to staff and there was a heavy drinking culture (self medicating). Things are a bit better now, but too late for me.

    Tell me about your situation if you'd like. I know relating to, or even burdening loved ones, is often difficult.

    Kind regards, John.

    5 people found this helpful
  4. A Tech
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    5 May 2015 in reply to CrashCoyote

    Geoff and John,

    Wow, I hope you both realise how glad I am to hear from you! 

    Ive been searching for PTSD specific related groups or forums for moths and only seem to come up ones in the States. Who knew it was right under my nose?

    A few quick answers, no I'm not working at the moment (which actually makes me feel worse!) and yes I've been seeing a psychologist for two years (started for other work and life issues) and I have the best GP on the planet.

    Thats not including my AMAZING husband of 20 years,our 18 year old son and my father, who I really don't know what I'd do without!!!

    Im 5 months in from diagnosis, but 2 years from the one incident that haunts me the most. 

    Ive seen collegues commit suicide, the most recent only 2 months ago. There is absolutely NO support from managers or the hospital itself, even though they like to say there is. The doctors get debriefing after every death (for coroner reports I guess) but the rest of us usually debrief over a bottle of anything. 

    Alcohol and drugs are rife in hospitals as coping skills, there is always someone that can set you up with something. Theatre, ED and ICU are the worst hit wards to work in for PTSD, so much death and sadness.

    Me, I turned to ordering medication online, surprising how easy that is! That and alcohol were my crutch (I was always too scared to do anything heavy, I saw all of that in my patients). 

    Obviously there were many events over many years that got me to this point, like you John, I used to always think about you guys and the paramedics. 

    I'll write more as I go, nearly out of space, but I really need you both to know how grateful I am that you responded to me.

    Thank you so much 😘

    4 people found this helpful
  5. A Tech
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    7 May 2015

    Hi John,

    First I thought I'd introduce myself properly, my name is Donna.

    Ive been thinking a lot over the past couple of days about your post, wondering if you also suffer from PTSD?

    One of my uncles, now retired also, spent the same sort of time, 30 odd years with the WA police working himself up to a very senior position here before having a 'breakdown' as we were told. I look back now and I think that he also suffered PTSD. No one really sees him anymore, as he avoids all family functions etc, which is exactly what I have been doing for some time now.

    My dad used to work in the radio control room for the buses, I remember one night when I was 16, he was finishing a late shift when a call came in that someone had jumped in front of a train, so buses were needed to divert passengers. As he was on his way home, he said he would stop at the scene and let radio know. 

    When he got there, the young man under the train was my brothers best friend. This kid, 18 years old, had basically grown up with us. Dad told my brother that he had died instantly, but he told me years later that he was alive, and screaming in agony. He recognised my dad obviously, and died in his arms. I know he has never bee the same since.

    A year and a half ago I was notified of my nephews best friend, my son new him well also, that he had been riding a dirt bike on the road and was hit by a four wheel drive. All our boys at that time were 16! The next morning when I arrived at work I was devastated to find our young friend on my theatre list. I begged and pleaded with my seniors and then my manager to please not make me work on him, I knew he was touch and go.They refused to reallocate me, despite it being a breach of policy, so I spent the day crying while I worked with a very sympathetic anaesthetist. 

    The young boy did survive, but he had massive head injuries, C1 and C5 fractures and is now a ventilated quadriplegic for life.One of hundreds of devastating, to close to home stories that quite obviously led me to where I am.

    The saddest part is that my department had the most loyal and dedicated technician ever and they not only ruined me by providing absolutely no support, but they've also robbed the patients of someone that ACTUALLY cared and loved their job.

    Thank you for reading my rambles, different things just come at anytime they want. 

    I hope to hear from you again soon,Donna ✌️

    5 people found this helpful
  6. CrashCoyote
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    7 May 2015 in reply to A Tech

    Hi Donna,

    Thank you for your post.

    Yes, I have P.T.S.D. I have seen a lot of yukky things.I have been threatened or exposed to serious harm many times. I have been very close to being killed on a handful of occasions. I understand why your dad is like he is. I don't like being around people much, either.

    I also understand why you feel that management has mis-managed you. It is very common. I like to think management get it right abut 97% of the time, and then there are people like us. In the police it is sometimes said that the people calling the shots are't the ones getting shot at, and it is true. The pressure on managers to meet targets and their constant eye on self preservation ensures that short term goals are met without regard for long term consequences.

    For example, in the police in N.S.W., there are supposed to be "minimum staffing agreements" where a certain number of police are considered the minimum for a station to run. In theory, it means that police can be shuffled from another class of duty to meet the "First Response" needs or overtime can be authorised. In practice, management consistently roster a skeleton crew and then when sick leave depletes it, which is inevitable based on historical rostering figures, the shift just runs short. Specialist resent and resist being forced to do front line work and managers are too terrified to authorise overtime. This has been going on for years and is allowed to go on at every level of management. I mean, "Who cares?" The only impact is on the long suffering public and no one answers to them. I really do not know how managers assuage their collective conscience knowing they are serving budgetary needs at the expense of the community.

    Anyway, that is just one example. I am sure you've seen similar. What sort of treatment are you getting?

    Kind regards, John.

  7. A Tech
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    11 May 2015 in reply to CrashCoyote

    Hi John,

    Sorry for the delay in this response. Life has a way of interrupting at times! 

    I do completly agree with the thought that management do try their best (for the most part), and that it is unfortunate that the occasional person like you and I do get missed and fall through the cracks.

    To be fair, which is actually quite a breakthrough for me when it comes to my management, although I do believe they should have done something (as my behaviour was extremely erratic and very out of character for me, therefore very obvious to all of my collegues and two of my seniors who all still chose to do nothing!), I also didn't make it very easy AT ALL for any of them to approach me.

    I have been struggling with certain areas of the job for a few years, but two years ago was when I knew I needed help.

    I GP put me on anti depressants, but she told me she was doing for the anxiety side, that she didn't think I was depressed as a primary (I've been seeing her for 18years and she is an amazing GP!). I also started to see a clinical psychologist, who again I have been extremely lucky to have connected with instantly.

    As for everyone, there is always so much more to a story. Shortly after this, I was off sick with pneumonia (very slow recovery) and then two months later my brother is arrested for suspicion of murder.

    Im sure you can imagine how the last two years have been since then? We are only now about to go to trial in a couple of months as he's pleading not guilty.

    Even though all of this was apparently 'confidential', this is when the workplace bullying started, from my manager of all people!

    I did finally resign, for the sanity of myself and my husband and son (much to my disgust that he got away with it), but I can honesty say it WAS the best decision I have made. 

    I still see both my psychologist and GP on pretty much fortnightly basis, still on anti depressants, something for anxiety during the day and if I need it, to help sleep at night. 

    I have just found a program run by a private hospital here, that does a two week day patient (hopefully out patient) program on PTSD and they have have specifically for emergency services personnel. I'm going to look into that today. We've been told the whole cost, no insurance is about $5,500, but we have insurance so I'll see what the situation is. I may be lucky!!!!

    Thank you for being so kind and patient, it really helps.

    I'll keep you posted on that program.

    Talk soon, Donna 

     

    1 person found this helpful
  8. CrashCoyote
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    12 May 2015 in reply to A Tech

    Hi Donna,

    Good to hear from you.

    Bullying is an insidious act and somehow the system makes the person complaining seem like the problem. 

    Of course, it is done now and the only way forward is, well, forward!

    I look forward to hearing from you about the program.

    Kind regards, John.

  9. Leia
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    19 June 2015

    Hi guys,

    You all have such amazing histories and years of experience, its a bit intimidating to even post! But I'm a paramedic student; I am yet to 'officially' operate in the field but through the years of clinical placements and volunteering, I have already seen quite a bit.

    I have so much respect for all of you; your years of service, managing jobs/cases society don't think even happen and coping with all of these work-related demands in addition to your personal lives. Hats off to you.

    For a bit of a background, I'm in my early 20's and recently had a lot of self-realizations about who I am now, the demands of the (hopeful futuristic) job and how I can set myself up for the healthiest future possible. With brilliant support (GP, psychologist) I am acting to reduce my current 'problems' and trying to build the best foundations for my future. I am continually learning the importance of assertiveness, positive coping-stratergies and emotional intelligence. Although people associate a lot of downfalls about mental illness and emergency services, I think it has only ever made me more empathetic, mature and motivated.

    I often think about if I'm cut out for this, but I can't think of anything I'd love to do more. I don't know if anyone is every really sure if what their doing is right, and if they are over-confidence (in my opinion) isn't always the greatest trait in this field. I may be young and naive but for a long time this is what I've wanted to do. If I change my career path later than that's okay but I think I'd kick myself forever if I walked away because of the 'what if's'.

    I appreciate any of you words, wisdom or opinions.

    Kind regards,

    Leia

    3 people found this helpful
  10. geoff
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    20 June 2015 in reply to Leia

    dear Leia, hi and welcome to the site.

    Firstly can I just say to Donna that I'm so sorry I haven't followed up on her previous posts, but I tend to get caught up replying to other posts that have just been posted.

    Leia it may take people quite awhile to eventually decide to post, it's not easy to do your very first comment, scared of what reaction you will get, worried that people will knock you, but not on this site, it's an open house where only advice, suggestions and experience will be given to you as best as we can do.

    You sound to be a very mature person and have a very sensible attitude and approach for your situation,so that's good to even start with.

    Everybody has doubts about what they are doing and wonder how can they do to achieve a better result, it's in our body, so an analogy would be, they climb a mountain so then they want to climb a bigger mountain next.

    At the moment you have no desire to change, so you want, but we don't know what will happen in the future, but you can produce the confidence you seem to have, then your ability will just fall into place.

    Hope to hear back from you. L Geoff. x

    1 person found this helpful
  11. A Tech
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    20 June 2015 in reply to Leia

    Hi Leia,

    Thank you for your amazing words of support, I hope you realise how important that is to all of us in this field.

    I have to say to you that you remind me EXACTLY of me. My passion for the job from the day I started until the day I left, never once waivered. Even now, I still feel that same desire and want to return to my job, it was something that I loved doing so much and I know I made a difference.

    I believe that people like you and I are what makes the services what they are. Our jobs are supposed to be about compassion, empathy and the want to help others. The downside of course, is if your not careful it does eventually creep up on you. 

    The fact that your on this site now, tells me that perhaps you already have some insight into PTSD from compounding traumas. I hope that it's not you, but rather someone you know?

    I spent 10yrs in theatres of a trauma hospital before I finally had to leave (lots of long periods of time off over the last 2yrs, behaviour changes etc), I did try to return to work at a non trauma hospital 6mnths ago because I felt like I was doing so much better, but due to the nature of PTSD, I only lasted a week!

    Thankfully, the manger at this hospital has told me I am welcome back as soon as I am recovered, if I ever want too. 

    From what I can tell from you, as long as you don't have massive depressive/anxiety type issues already (because this job WILL bring that out in you if it's already there) you sound like like exactly the type of person that we need for these jobs. 

    Youre prepareing strategies in advance as coping mechanisms and that's fantastic!!! Maybe if I had done that I might still be working.

    I agree with have no regrets! Your young and so inspired and passionate about doing this amazing and rewarding work, so go for it. Don't hold back. Like you said, you can always change careers later in life, but at least you'll know you did it! 

    The only real advice I can give you, is to be aware of you! Notice if you think your changing. Ask others if they see it too and if so then act on it. I hid my emotions behind alcohol as you will very soon discover is what we all end up doing. We numb it to get through, but that's the first sign.

    I think you will be an amazing Paramedic because you obviously care enough to get this insight.

    Go for it, love it and have some fun doing it.

    Keep us updated though ok? I'd really like to know how it all goes.

    Take care,

    Donna  

    3 people found this helpful
  12. Leia
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    26 June 2015 in reply to A Tech

    Hi Donna,

    I can’t explain how relieving and kind your words are.  

    I know it can sound very silly, but I can’t help but think I could make a different, big or small. I love teaching people; I’m always making tables, study maps to help my peers/friends learn course content. I’m passionate about holistic health, particularly mental health, which is often overshadowed. I’d like to think I could contribute and reassure someone in his or her time of need, which I believe is the most influential part of our job.  

    I have been diagnosed with anxiety and mild depression. For a while I self-managed just through social support, relaxation and exercise but recently I took a step in the right direction and got more specialised help from the professionals! I do understand the ability of this field to exacerbate underlying ‘vulnerabilities or issues’ but that’s exactly why I’m doing everything I can about it, to hopefully come out the other side more prepared and resilient. I haven’t experienced PTSD but I know the risks and have studied the condition throughout my studies. So far I have been faced with traumatic events and have walked away with understanding and acceptance. I found that talking it through with my paramedic crews and team leaders clarified any concerns as to why ALS ceased or didn’t start and instilled that understanding that ‘we performed to the best of our ability.’  

    I don’t want to be naive and blatantly say that my diagnoses wont affect me because I don’t think that to be true. However, by employing coping strategies, having a regular chat with my psychologist and continually staying on top of things, I hope to control how it affects me and respond to any faint feelings of PTSD if they creep up.  

    I talk a LOT and if you ask anyone I’m a very happy person. I think sometimes people misunderstand the aspects of my life anxiety affects. My issues usually just sit with me, in that way I think it’s a lot more about self-perception. On road, I think it’s only ever made me more diligent and empathetic, but I will continue to work at it and watch it.  

    It’s so nice to hear you share the same genuine passions and aspirations to help others. I cant imagine how hard it would have been to have to stop doing what you love because of such uncontrollable circumstances but it sounds like you are doing all the right things and being really responsive to your needs. It’s also really lovely to hear how understanding your manager has been, it can so easily be misunderstood, good to know some employers can take it!  

    I never want to sacrifice my own well being and I think you’re right in the sense that it’s about being responsive to your whole-self, which is exactly what I want to do and who I want to be.  

    Thank you so much, again

    Look after yourself,  

    Leia

    1 person found this helpful
  13. Jack the rabbit
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    28 July 2015
    Gday mate, have you tried talking to a lawyer about a TPD claim? I know PK are pretty helpful and after being in the police force and having many friends go thru this, I know financial strain can make it harder. Making a claim can sometimes get your mind onto new things and get some direction.   
  14. A Tech
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    7 August 2015 in reply to Jack the rabbit

    Jack The Rabbit,

    Please forgive me, I know this will sound exceptionally nieve, but TPD?

    At the time that I gave up working my father in law had just passed away, I had been bullied at work for close to two years due to my brother being arrested (which was told in confidence to my manager!) and I was quite literally going through hell with my mother and other siblings over my brother.

    I did speak to the Union about a workers comp case and had more than enough to go on, however mentally there was no way I would ever be able to withstand the crap they would pull.

    I did accidentally find out a couple of months later that for ten years I was paying through my superannuation, a monthly premium for salary insurance. Its been six months now, but I'm told we're nearly there. I'll believe it IF I ever see it.

    I have been making massive progress lately though, even with my brothers trial. After two VERY long years, it finally went to court two weeks ago. Now we just wait for sentencing, another few weeks away, another set back. Then I deal with the grief of losing my twin brother for the next 15-20 years, maybe I'll get back on track with the PTSD therapy???

    The best thing I've ever done though is cut myself of from the people I used to work with. I was at the hospital a few weeks as my uncle was in ICU and they all just stared at me like I'm a freak. But, as I walked passed them and said hi, I hadn't felt that strong in years. It was an awesome moment.

    Anyway, no matter what I'll be ok and I know that! I have some amazing support from my husband, GP, Psychologist and couple of people I'm proud to call friends!

    Thank you for your thoughts for ideas to help, it's much appreciated.

    Donna

    1 person found this helpful
  15. ontheborder
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    6 September 2015

    I am a first responder, I am a member of the CFA.

    We do road rescue for this region so I am quiet familiar with graphic, traumatic injuries. 

    I also have PTSD but from my childhood.

     

    1 person found this helpful
  16. A Tech
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    8 September 2015 in reply to ontheborder

    Hi ontheborder,

    It's really good to see another fellow responder here. Well, sad but good. You know what I mean!

    Sometimes it's really hard to talk about the job and all it involves with people who don't understand. I know that everyone here really does try to empathise, but it's not quite the same.

    You said your PTSD is from childhood? Has that made it hard for you in your job? I would have thought that would be very difficult.

    I know I had a lot emotional issues growing up, the death of my sister, then my parents divorce. My sister especially made it very difficult for me to do any type of peadiatric work, and was in the end the actual trigger for my breakdown.

    I thought that by working in an adult hospital it would never be an issue, but sometimes fate slaps you upside the head when you least expect it!!!!

    Anyway, if you feel like chatting a bit more, that's definitely something I can do well (so my hubby says!). I check in every couple of days at least, so feel free to chat away.

    Hope to talk soon.

    Donna 

  17. ontheborder
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    9 September 2015 in reply to A Tech

    Hi Donna,

    As the PTSD is from child abuse the only times it is difficult is when dealing with people that have beards.

    The other triggers I have either don't occur in the right combinations on calls or are easy to avoid.

    I'm also lucky that it is a very suportive enviroment. 

    In a weird sort of way exposing myself to this kind of trauma acctually helps me. It is something that is outside my head that demands 100% of my focus, if that makes sence.

    You know it's acctually kind of funny in a twisted kind of way, the blood, screaming and dead or injured  mangled bodies doesn't affect me but if you take someone that smells of cigarette and is swearing or drinking beer or sucking on a lemon/lime lolly at the time I compleatly freak out.

    The triggers, nightmares and memories are cruel no matter what the trauma they are born from.

  18. A Tech
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    21 September 2015 in reply to ontheborder

    Hi ontheborder,

    I'm so sorry for the delay in my reply, especially after I said that I check in every few days. I've had some very heavy family stuff going on lately, which definitely has made life and my PTSD very difficult. Without too much carry on about it, after two years of being in remand, my younger brother has just been sentenced for a minimum of 19 years for his part in a crime.

    It's been really hard to focus on helping him and my PTSD, with only the support of my husband and father. Our mother and other brother walked away from him and us two years ago when it first happened.

    But, back to the topic. I can so totally relate to what you say about how the job requires 100% of your attention. I mean, firstly that's what they they train us to do right? That adrenaline pump that happens as soon as a call comes in, you go straight into mode ! That's how I survived my 10 years in trauma theatre. 

    I had such a passion for what I did, I still do, and I definitely want to go back to it. It occurred to me a few days ago that in another 2 weeks, it'll be a year since I've properly worked! I didn't realise it had gone that fast.

    We all have our own and very unique triggers that's for sure! There is so much that I have no problems with even now. For me, it seems to be mainly some of the most horrific cases that I dealt with in that last few years, and now anything associated with it, even if I wasn't there. 

    I can only imagine some of the sights you saw as an actual first responder, on the road, and like you said I agree that mostly it's a weird  almost out of body experience. It's work mode, survival mode, what we do!!

    I'm really glad to hear you say that you have some great support. I'm assuming you mean from work?

    That's where my problem came from. There was, and still is just nothing!! A patient dies in theatre, after you and the team have just spent up to 4-6 hours working to save their life, pumping volume in as fast as you can only to see it pooling on the floor around you just as quick! This one was 18yrs old and it christmas eve, and she died anyway! 

    Of course being a government hospital and understaffed, we have to clean up our theatres. No down time, not even a coffee break, I was moved theatres to start another trauma case (that was my specialty). I did most of that shift with not even a coffee break, very usual.

    But, I've got a million stories, as I'm sure you do too.

    So, to be continued.

    Take it easy.

    Donna.

    2 people found this helpful
  19. Unforgettable
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    2 October 2015 in reply to A Tech

    ​Hello all, I am very new to this valuable Forum whereby in the short time have read many posts and personal stories. My name is John where I have registered myself under the approved User Name as Unforgettable lol...

     I am a policeman myself of over some 28 years service and have already submitted a post under another category! I would like to draw all my fellow confidants to a book written by Kevin M. Gilmartin Ph.D. an American police officer and now psychologist. My police union here in Australia has invited him out to talk to our members.

    The book is universally acclaimed and can relate to all Emergency Service workers. I strongly recommended you grab yourself a copy for a well informed read! The book can be googled and ordered on line and I will say it is an easy read and you could if keen read it over a couple of nights?

    I hope this helps?

    John

     

     

  20. A Tech
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    2 October 2015 in reply to Unforgettable

    Hi John,

    Thanks for the information on the book, I will definitely look into it.

    I think the biggest concern though, especially for me anyway, is how our employers are letting us down with very little or no backup support. Even when I approached my manager, I was basically told to quit my job because there is no place for 'light duties' or the like in a trauma theatre setting.

    The issue relays not PTSD itself, but making these employers (especially when they're Government Departments!!) aware and even accountable, when they refuse to help.

    I'm very keen to read this book,  have also made the decision to go to Uni next year to study Psychology. Funny how that happens so much hey??

    Who knows, maybe one day I can go back to the hospital I worked in and help them become more aware.

     Thanks again,

    Donna.

    1 person found this helpful
  21. Kirakira
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    2 November 2015

    Hi Everyone,

    Ive just been diagnosed with PTSD with dissociation, relating to an incident at work last year. Ive since been retriggered (again work related). Ive been working in remote indigenous communities as a social and youth worker for about 4 years. Really challenging and amazing work, but obviously had an effect.

     I have the option of extended leave up to 3 months from work and would like to make good use of the time. Does anyone know of any good residential/intensive support programs around the country that deal specifically with PTSD? Im currently sitting in Central Australia where there are no such services available. I don't have private health insurance, so it would have to be public. Ive looked everywhere and can't find anything.

     OK, thanks,

     Kira

     

  22. Paul
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    2 November 2015 in reply to A Tech

    Hey Donna,

    From reading your posts, I've learnt you're a strong woman with a very soft and compassionate side and despite PTSD and bastard managers and employers you still use "We" when referring to first responders and medico's like they are still your family.

    I admire you, you're amazing!

    I admire all people in similar roles who perform the thankless tasks that go unseen or are hidden to keep us safe or get us help as citizens. 

    Let me please add this one "Thank You!" from someone, some time who may not have been able to but perhaps appreciated what was done for them later on.

    Hugs

     

    Paul

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  23. A Tech
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    8 November 2015 in reply to Paul

    Hi Paul,

    Wow, you truly have no idea how much I really needed to hear that right now! Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to me :-). I have to tell it made me cry, but in a really good way!!

    I haven't been able to my job in almost a year now, but yes, I do always still say 'we', because I do truly mean it. Despite managers and bureaucracies, the people on the ground are a team and they all act like family when working together, even when you've only just met.

    I could never have believed there could possibly be so many good people out there, until I started this work. Now, somedays it is the faith that keeps going.

    I am determined to return to the work I love one day soon I hope. Thank you again so much for what may seem small to many, but has impacted my soul like you can never imagine.

    I will always be grateful for a kind strangers words, and although I hope to never meet you in an official capacity, it would also be my honour to help you.

    Take care,

    Donna.

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  24. A Tech
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    8 November 2015 in reply to Kirakira

    Hi Kira,

     First I would like to say I'm really to hear about your PTSD. It's not an easy thing to live and deal with, especially when its work related, and you happen to love that work! Thats me in a nutshell too.

    Now the bad news, simply put, NO!

    I was only diagnosed last December and I have exhausted EVERY avenue I can, along with the help of the most amazing and supportive GP that ever lived!!

    I'm in Perth and there is absolutely nothing out there in the public health system as far as intensive in treatment. All of those residential placements (and there are a couple of outstanding ones in Perth) but they're private. One of them allows you to pay the costs if you don't have insurance, we were told somewhere around $5000 I think?

    Medicare does offer 10 psychology sessions per year with a GP referral under a mental health plan. We couldn't afford the in house treatment so increased out ancillary cover, so we get the 10 medicare sessions and insurance covers half of another 10-12 sessions per year.

    So basically I just see my psychologist every 2 weeks, and GP on the other week. Its actually worked well for me, BUT you also have to have some support at home too.

    I was even so desperate at one point for help, that I went an emergency department and asked to be admitted to the psych unit, the said no. 

    I'm really sorry I couldn't help more than that, I even wrote to the Health Minister about it but got no where, in fact they turned it back on me! Now thats loyalty right?

    I hope you do find something soon. Please don't leave it because it not go away!!!

    Be safe,

    Donna xxx

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  25. Gruffudd
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    19 November 2015 in reply to A Tech

    Hi Donna,

    I'm not from the medical side, but I do value your work greatly. I walked away from Child Protection work because of PTSD, the impact of removing another child was too much. There are plenty of experiences, physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, self harming kids and the saddest stories that I have sat with people and witnessed. It was always really hard to go to a house after a child had died to assess the safety of the other kids. What got to me in the end was the sound of an Aboriginal mother sobbing whilst smothering her newborn, the circumstances were such that her baby was likely to die if left there, but that cry, it is hard to describe. 

    So what happened in my case was Workcover, it paid for psychologists and gave some time. I went back to performance management which was not helpful at all, but it didn't last. It remained for another 4 years, though removing kids or even thinking about it brings up the PTSD symptoms. I have spent rather a lot on psychologists out of my own pay and I think the nature of this is that it will keep returning.

    That is why I chose to leave the job and do something different. Walking away from the parents and kids that I have worked with is super hard, so many of them when they struggle in their placements still identify me as a significant person and I am not there which is another adult letting them down.

    I guess my message is that this happens because you care and you are amazing and dedicated. I hope that you will be able to go back or find some way that works for how things are now - I can see in your story that you have some real strength. In my last year in the Department there was some discussion about the risks of vicarious trauma which was really welcome (all though too late for me), as a society and the departments, employers, etc. we all need to support those who are heading towards the danger and the pain. 

    All the best.

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  26. A Tech
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    20 November 2015 in reply to Gruffudd

    Hi Gruffudd,

    Thank you so much for your very kind words, twice in a couple of weeks from different people that I have never met has both lifted my spirit and saddened me at the same time. If only my workplace had shown even a tiny piece of that appreciation perhaps things could have been different?

    I'm so sorry to hear what you went through! I know that's not why you told me, but I know that you understand the deep torment that being passionate about your work can do to you.

    I can't even begin to imagine that heartbreak of wanting to do so much more but knowing you just can't. I guess at least with medicine there is a definitive line that states when there is just no more that can be done. The feelings of helplessness for us both though would still be somewhat the same.

    Reading your story particularly sits hard  with me, as during my childhood my parents were those foster parents that took in some of the kids your describing. I guess thats why I ended up doing what I did for a living, that need to help, only medical was where I was more comfortable.

    I did have a few meetings with my union when I knew I was being pushing out of my job and we did look into work cover. I guess for me at the time though, there was just no possible way I had the strength to fight for it, and it had been made clear to me by my manager that it would definitely be a fight. In the end I decided it was in my best interest to simply resign and apply for salary insurance, not that that was any walk in the park but at least I have two years at 80% pay.

    I have also payed out a lot of extra money on doctors visits, currently I see my psychologist every two weeks and the same for my GP. It's certainly not easy is it?

    It's so hard to get away from triggers when they're everywhere!!! I had never noticed just how many emergency service vehicle there are until PTSD. A recent event while on holiday has revived some of that again just when I thought I was making real progress. So for now, I'm going to stop thinking about returning to work and just focus on recovery!

    Perhaps one day the mangers that we deal with will actually take this seriously, but I won't hold my breath. Thank you again for your kind words, although I think that you too are an unsung hero! I chose purposely to never work with children. To know that you have those sights and sounds in your head, I admire YOUR courage!

    Lets hope that one day we can learn to live without nightmares and panic attacks, that is my dream

     

  27. Gruffudd
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    21 November 2015 in reply to A Tech

    Hi there Donna,

    I think understanding what you react to and what happens in your body is the thing. The ideas and experience in the Anxiety and Depression forums helps, and I am actually rather good at riding out the anxiety when it happens now. 

    The choice of a change of work in the same field turned out to be a really good thing for me. 

    Rob.

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  28. A Tech
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    26 November 2015 in reply to Gruffudd

    Hi Rob,

    Slowly but surely I'm figuring out what my triggers are. Mostly I'm able to avoid a lot of now, even though it's only been a year. I have been having quite intense and extensive sessions with my psychologist usually every two weeks. She's amazing!!!

    But don't get me wrong, in saying that I've just had one of the worst weeks in a LONG time!!! How long have you had PTSD?

    I'm glad to hear you say that your still working in the same field. I truly think that it's because of our passion for the people we're helping that we end up where we are. I'm also thinking of staying medical, just a different role.

    Can I ask you though, did you have a long period of time away from the job and if so, how hard was it to make that decision to return to the same area of work, albeit a different role?

    I'm just so scared!! I'm about to enrol for Uni to get a different qualification, medicine is my passion!!! It's who I am to the core and always has been. But what if I do all of this study (it's more the money to be truthful) and then fall apart again? I would love to have the perspective of someone who has returned to similar work.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Donna.

  29. Gruffudd
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    26 November 2015 in reply to A Tech

    Hi Donna,

    It was about 6 years ago that the diagnosis was made and I had about three months off which was not much and not enough in some ways. I went back to casework in Out of Home Care rather then Child Protection like before that. The decision to return to work was mostly about money, I just swallowed my pride and forced myself, it was incredibly hard and I did contemplate suicide as an alternative which suggests it was a bit early to be going back. I built back up from there. There is a real difference between front line trauma and moving sideways into something less crisis driven and focused on long term healing. 

    I'll be honest, I think that PTSD is likely to be around for life. I had triggers today that sent me into a sort of tailspin. One was a former manager who was being nice but used a register of language that reminded me of things, and the other was a parent who used to threaten to kill me with some detail on the methods (in my last job) who visited the agency seeking help for his daughter. It is really challenging sitting there and tuning out from the memories of when one of those angry fathers came to my house and killed my cat or the one who rammed my car into a ditch with his truck. I took another worker in with me which helped me remain present and could talk while I was doing some mental gymnastics to park the thoughts and concentrate on the needs that they were bringing to us.

    Going and having those heavy going psychology sessions is what has helped me find a middle ground that I can live with. I chose to continue in the field knowing that I will have days like today, however, those days are fewer and fewer with me being focused on helping people grow, change, and recover, rather than intervening at times of crisis, pain, and death. 

    My experience is not one of going back and never falling apart, I have done so to different extent so very many times over the six years. I think moving from government to non government has been a big thing, the next degree of separation would be to move into something where I have no involvement in Child Protection at all. 

    Sorry it is a very mixed message of an answer. I honestly thought about becoming a priest or driving a bus. I don't think I'd be satisfied because my work with children and families is not yet done.

    Rob.

  30. A Tech
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    13 December 2015 in reply to Gruffudd

    Hi Rob,

    I apologise for the slow reply, I've been spending a bit of time with my favourite aunt who has end stage pancreatic cancer. One things for sure, spending quality time with her has really put my own life and issues into a more realistic and approachable perspective.

    I certainly will never devalue what I and others like you have gone through, but it has made me think that there really is nothing that we can't overcome emotionally, if we dedicate ourselves to it enough!

    I believe what you say that PTSD will be with us in some for or another for the rest of our lives, but it's what we do about it that counts. Like you, my passion for my area of work is too strong to just walk away. For the last year I have too scared to do anything about it though. I couldn't seem to make a decision about a new career pathway, even though I knew I needed to stay in health in some form.

    I also knew I count return to the job I had done for the past ten years either, but thats ok, I had a good run and loved it all (well mostly, haha).

    But I've finally done it! I've made that call that I knew I would do all along. As of today I have submitted applications to two Uni's to study to be a registered nurse. Thats something I had always planned to do ever since I was in primary school. It was actually my husbands words a couple of days ago that did it, when he said this is something you've always wanted to do, and when will you ever have this perfect opportunity again when your not working, we can manage financially etc. so I did it.

    I feel pretty empowered actually! Its a kind of unreal feeling, especially knowing that I'll end up studding at the same Uni as our son! I had to promise I won't embarrass him.

    But, I'm also not blind to the risks here either. I did talk it through with my GP and psychologist first.

    I'm so gratefully for your reply to all of my questions too, thank you. And no, it was not a mixed message. I did have to laugh though at your comment at thinking of becoming a bus driver, I used to be one of those too! Another thing I had always wanted to do, so did! I had a great time for a couple years and mainly gave it up because my son was starting pre primary with those silly half days, not very compatible with split shifts.

    I would love to keep to chatting you if you don't mind, I think we have a similar background?

    I don't think my aunt will make it till christmas, so if I don't post before then, please have a safe one.

    Take care,

    Donna 

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