Home / My Journey / Good Days, Bad Days

Good Days, Bad Days

I have good ones and bad ones. I know everyone does, but my ability to handle the bad ones has been severely compromised. I can’t even handle the tiniest things when I’m having a bad day.

I’m typing this as I pacify myself with a rye and coke. I know, not the kind of coping I should be using at 3:45pm, but it’s what I’m using. I still don’t have any real tools to use yet. We have not gotten there yet. We have spent most of our time peeling away some layers, and seeing what damage has been done. And I think it runs deeper then I wanted to admit, or believe. Considering how “On the brink” I seem to be on most days, it’s worse then I wanted to think. So what happened today? Well there are 2 parts to that story.

The first part is my cat. I know I have spoken a lot about Harley, but I have 2 cats as well. Both approaching 14 years old. One of then, while immensely disliking the dog, has seemed to deal with the pup in the house. The other, not so much. I brought him to the vet a month ago, as he was having some pretty serious rectal bleeding with his bowel movements. Being a medic, I instantly associate that with bowel cancer. So I brought him to the vet about a month ago, expecting that I was putting him down. Much to my relief, the believed it was colitis, and gave me some meds. Since then, he has continued to lose weight, have bloody stools, and not have his normal appetite, or behaviour. To finish a long story, today when I got home from the Heroes Gala, I went to look for him. i found him, and he looked terrible. My wife and I brought him to the emergency hospital. I was expecting to put him down. I was having a small anxiety attack, and trying to keep myself under control. We chatted wight the vet, and she went to the back with him to prepare him for his injections. She came into the room a few minutes later, and gave us some observation the caused us to immediately reconsider, and rather then put him down, bring him and home and monitor him for a day or two. He deserved that. so there was some relief, but the roller coaster killed me mentally. My mental strength runs near empty on any normal day. This wiped me out.

So after getting home, and doing what we needed to do for him, I realized I needed to get Harley out for some exercise. So off to the dog park it was. He was having a good time, and my body had done what it does with negative feelings and emotions….buried it. We haven’t really started who do deal with stuff like this in therapy yet. Either way, I was at the dog park, with my oldest daughter, and we were having fun with the dog. At least an attempt at some healthy coping.

It’s what happened next that really scared me. There was quite a few dogs at the park. it is a leash free one, and Harley loves it. He will generally wait till there is a dog his size, and then will play and wrestle. And when he does so, he is usually quite submissive. Pretty funny for a dog that is going to be quite big and intimidating when he is older.

Anyway, a smaller breed dog come in. He also looked like a puppy as well. I soon learned that he was 9 months old. Not my kind of dog, but cute and friendly when I tried to pet him. A few minutes later, I was talking with another owner about their Vizsla, and 2 dogs were going at it. Pretty hard. I looked up to see it was Harley. I was quite surprised. He RARELY gets in fights. He has been in one before, but it was by a more dominant dog, asserting his dominance. Harley is quite submissive. When another dog starts getting too rough, Harley runs away with his tail between his legs. But this time he had no choice but to stand his ground and fight….Well that’s is not even the right word. If Harley wanted to, he could have ended that dog…It was half of him. But since that is not his personality, he had to fight back a bit, to try to get this yappy purse dog under control. I got over first, and separated them. Harley went between my legs, while this other mutt kept going at him. I just kept the other dog far enough away, he could not get at Harley. After all, I did not see what sparked the fight.

The other owner came over, apologized, and I said it was fine. I had not seen what started it. He took his dog, and I took mine. He asked if Harley was fine, which he seemed to be, so it was over.

I had to keep standing between them, as yappy purse dog obviously had a problem with Harley. Again, no problem. Sometimes dogs don’t get along. The owner then told me his dog seems to get over aggressive with submissive dogs. Well that explains it. Regardless of who started it, the minute Harley showed his submissiveness, the dog reacted that way. I took harley away from him, and around some other dogs. I was barely 25-30 feet away, when I heard another fight. It was the yappy dog, and a cute pug/chihuahua cross. Again, the yappy thing being the aggressor, but the pug holding his own. I was actually the closest to them, and got over and separated them too. Keeping the yappy thing away from the pug, who was quite friendly. Again the owner comes over to take his yappy mutt away, and I walked away. Wasn’t my place to say anything this time. It was not my dog. Again, the same song as dance about being aggressive around more submissive dogs.

After 2 fight with 2 dogs, I expect the owner to leave. His dog either can’t get along with other dogs, or is in a mood. But as far as I am concerned, 2 times is one to many. I was getting pissed that this guy was still there. and not another minute passed when he attacked the pug again. I cursed out loud, looked at some poor woman beside me, and said, “enough of this. I’m fucking out of here.”

While I don’t claim NOT to have a potty mouth, I generally won’t talk like that around people I don’t know. And then it happened. All I saw was RED. I could feel my heart pumping, and my arms shaking. I was soooo mad. I gave him a look like he just murdered a child. I was daring him to say something to me. Thankfully, he didn’t. Because if he had, I probably would have punched him. Over what? A couple of little dog fights, where no one (animals included) got hurt? Does that sound reasonable? No, I didn’t think so either. The stress of earlier had obviously messed with my emotions. I was not being rational.

So rather then be on edge for the rest of the day, I decided to go to the liquor store, and have a few (several) drinks.

I know it is not the best thing to do, but I’m doing it. And tomorrow I may or may not regret it, but it will keep me calm for the day. And that’s all I want.

While most days I don’t run to the liquor store, I sure do feel like it. But I manage to resist. Not today though. I needed it.

Its now later at night…I took a break just above to make dinner, and take the dog for a walk. I have continued to self medicate with alcohol. It’s working, because I haven’t lost it on anyone. I feel relaxed, but had a small panic attack about 45 min ago. Just sitting on the couch. Watching the closing ceremonies I had recorded. I’m not sure my wife noticed. If she did, she didn’t say anything. It prompted me to make my last drink, and hit the computer, maybe try to finish this post. Writing does calm me, to an extent.

Well, there is more of a real glimpse into a day in my head. Maybe I need to write about this more often. What do you all think? Is it helpful for you? Morbid curiosity? I have noticed my stats on a steady decline. I was not going to talk about it, but due to the wonders of alcohol, here I am talking about it. On one hand, I don’t care how many people read it regularly. But on the other, I guess I do. And I’m not sure why. Is it because I’m afraid my message is not getting out? Is it because this issue was a flash in the pan, and now it’s over? On to something more important? Or just the next Hot Topic? I dunno. I’m going to continue to blog, even if no one reads it. It will always be here.

Now my title did talk about good days. Any yes, I do have them. Yesterday (Saturday) was open of them. As I mentioned in my last post, I was able to get some tickets to the Heroes Gala, hosted by the Tema Contor Memorial Trust. In short, It was fantastic. I was honoured and grateful to be able to go. I ended up sitting beside a young (sorry if you are reading this, but DAMN you looked young), fresh new medic. 8 months into his career. We spent a few minutes chatting about the job, and how he was so much more prepared then I was mentally for it. But there is much work to be done. At least in my opinion.

I got to meet a few people, who had figured out who I was. It was weird people wanting to meet ME, and shake MY hand. It did make me feel a bit uncomfortable, but not in a bad way. I like being “that guy” in the room, but this is a different kind of attention. I heard a few “Thank-you”, that were the most sincere that I had ever heard. On a few occasions, I had to hold back some tears. I was quite timid while I was there. I did not go and meet some of the guests there I wanted to. But what I did manage to do, is meet the 2 people I wanted to.

First was Katherine. She is involved with Tema, and I had spoken to her on the phone before, and we have shared some messages and texts. It was important for me to shake her hand. I did. And she was amazing. So kind and caring. Even taking time out to talk to my wife and ask how she was doing, as my PTSD affects her just as much as me. Cheryl was blown away by the question, and I think she instantly fell in love with her.

The second was Vince Savoia himself. Being the head of the Memorial Trust, it was hard to track him down. I finally did, and patiently stood and waited my turn, while he spoke with someone. While I was standing off to the side, he looked at me, and my crest, and very shortly after that, he came over to me. I was soooo nervous. I don’t know why. Vince is an amazing man. Cheryl and I chatted with him for a few minutes, before he had to go, and take care of some things. Thanks again Vince, for the tickets, the few minutes I got to have with you, and the support you have shown me, and my blog. I appreciate it.

One quick thank-you to Mike Sanderson. He is the new Chief of my service. He was in attendance, and he went out of his way, several times through the night to come and say hi, see how I was doing, and just chat. Thank-you Mike. It is a lot more then the other people in your position would have done.

Well, that’s all for now. I’m tired, and a little fuzzy. It is time for bed. Please share this message. PTSD is REAL, and needs to be addressed. Healing is not an easy thing. This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Together we need End the Stigma, and Keep the Conversation Going.

HM

  • Radkat

    We are still here my friend. Not always making comments but still here. The word is out, stay strong. The CBT will give u the skills to work thru things.
    “Ask for Help” is also being used.
    Miss you
    XOX

  • willow

    Sometimes you need to express your emotions. Drinking is never helpful. I know first hand. The real work is when you losses the booze n stop using it to hide. Keep sharing lots of support

  • craig

    Don’t let anyone tell you you shouldn’t run back to what “helps” you. Its as easy to say for them, as it is as easy for you to do. It is a stumble. The fact you recognize it isn’t healthy is huge. Make sure you tell your therapist. Its another scab but an important one to pic. You have young kids, to quote Dori, “just keep swimming, just keep swimming”

  • sometimes blahh

    🙁 I’m so sorry, so so sorry that you feel this way. I don’t have words to give to you, no advice, nothing. All I can say, is I totally completely understand how you feel. I get it, and I can say that because I KNOW!

  • twilight

    The horrible thing about the alcohol is, it puts you in a place for the time being, where u feel numb, maybe even the feeling of what some call happiness. Every so often those horrible thoughts creep into out brain, which calls for another drink, cuz how did that thought get out of booze jail, time to send it back with a few shots.. We may become this outgoing smiley person while half hammered. But then the dreaded bathroom break comes in, u open the door, and then u see that bloody mirror, and in that mirror a reflection of someone who looks familiar, where’s my drink , at the bar, f&$k. You avoid eye contact with that stranger in the mirror, cuz we know what happens if we do. We finish rush out and want that drink. What put us here. What happened to the days in our surreal past where we seemed happy. Were we happy, or is this reality. Why does this thing have such a hold on us. What happened. Why me. Peeling away the layers makes me feel exposed. Why are there so many layer and layer of bullshit. Which moment in time at work put me here in this place that has affected every single moment of my life, to the point I can’t make a single decision. It’s robbed me of the ability to cope with dropping a pen. It’s invited itself into my head, where sounds, noices, colors put me in a state of panic anxiety, or let’s me see that color read. I’m avoiding the alcohol, because I know, it would take control of me. Sometimes going to sleep and I mean a deep sleep seems like an escape. Then u hear the small voices of your children which takes that option away, but to me sleep sounds great. But my children are greater. So I’m a shell, who’s dead inside. That’s how I feel.

  • Can’t think of a good name!

    Thanks for sharing! It’s always worth it to share, even if only a few people are following the blog. We can all empathize! 🙂

  • Catherine

    Its been an exceptionally trying week at work. This morning, I’m sitting on my couch crying because I am done! I am emotionally bankrupt – and I still have 2 more shifts to go before I get a break……Then I notice you have a new post. I read it 3 times, hearing my own thoughts in your words. Your words give me relief and strength, and I will forever be grateful to you for that! Even at your lowest, you are brave and helping others! I wish you all the best!

    • something

      I hear you. Big hugs

  • AJ MacPherson

    Know that even if your readers are on a decline, remember that even if one person reads this it might make the difference for them and help them through a rough shift. I’m a medic in Nova Scotia, 10 years in and my father has been doing this for over 25 years, he’s part of our Peer and Family Support team. Things are changing for the better, but like all changes in our field it won’t happen over night. Keep up the good work and I wish you nothing but the best.

  • ella

    Your message is getting out! Thank you for being so brave.

  • Ross

    Hi HM, I am following your journey and hoping you will get the help you need and the outcome will be a life long understanding of PTSD and how you and those around you will deal with it in the future. I was dx. with a severe PTSD and Bi-Polar Type 2 disorder almost 6 years ago. I am receiving top notch care from the best in the business and I am better. At the start, it cost me my senior management job in EMS, I have been fighting for re-instatement ever since. It has cost me over $50 thousand so far. It almost seems like they don’t want you to come back to work, your damaged goods, an embarrassment, can’t be trusted, will be a future liability, the stigma, they can’t get passed it.

    if you have a MH illness, unfortunately, it’s seems to be a career ending illness. Word travels fast through the EMS network, job offers dry up, people you talked with professionally in the past, don’t return your calls. You know who your real friends are. It would be easier and safer just to tell someone you have a heart problem or seizure disorder or you’re an Insulin dependent diabetic. These conditions are not anything to be scared of, you’ve dealt with them before, your are educated, there is no stigma. “Welcome back to your job, we’ve missed you”. That’s not how it works with a MH illness.

    But, if you have a MH illness, people, friends and acquaintances suddenly pucker up because they don’t know what to say, ask or do. Trust me, ask a person with a MH illness,or PTSD and I’m sure they would love to answer all you questions, they would educate you on what their MH illness is about. Hence, you could go and spread the news and dispel the stigma. You could make a difference. You could keep the talk going.

    Stigma

    Just 50% of Canadians would tell friends or co-workers that they have a familymember with a mental illness, compared to 72% who would discuss a diagnosis of cancer and 68% who would talk about a family member having diabetes.

    42% of Canadians are unsure whether they would socialize with a friend who has a mental illness.

    A majority of Canadians (55%) say they would be unlikely to enter a spousal relationship with someone who has a mental illness.

    46% of Canadians think people use the term mental illness as an excuse for bad behaviour, and 27% say they would be fearful of being around someone who suffers from serious mental illness.

    Thanks for your time HM, keep up the recovery brother !!

  • Lance

    Try Jesus. I’m not a religious freak but I do know He can heal emotions.

  • Jasen

    Can you add your blog to http://www.networkedblogs.com/ that way I’ll get updates and it might get it out to more people

  • Mastabattas

    I wish your writing could have been available sooner for a friend. You might have even known him (Zach) from Peel. As always, thank you for your openess. The tide seems to be shifting lately and I am seeing and hearing more and more conversation about PTSD.

    • hammermedic

      Are you talking about Zach Herbet-Green?

    • Are you referring to Zach Herbert-Green?

  • Jldub

    I have never meet you. I would not know you if you were standing right in front of me at the grocery store, but I through your words, I feel as though I know you and understand parts of what you are going through! You are a brave, honest and inspiring soul who has touched more people than you’ll ever know. Keep the conversation going and keep striving. You are no ordinary medic as your title implies, I believe you are one of the bravest among us.

  • Jldub

    I have never meet you. I would not know you if you were standing right in front of me at the grocery store, but through your words, I feel as though I know you and understand parts of what you are going through! You are a brave, honest and inspiring soul who has touched more people than you’ll ever know. Keep the conversation going and keep striving. You are no ordinary medic as your title implies, I believe you are one of the bravest among us.

  • Melissa

    You sound like my spouse. How does your wife deal with you? Maybe she could write something to help?