Is today the day? Or like AA with alcohol, can I keep my promise to myself I won’t today. When I read or respond on a suicide I marvel at the strength that individual had to pull the trigger. The thoughts are always present, sometimes in the back of my mind, sometimes as a fantasy. Years of therapy may have prevented my suicide so far.
But, really it’s the pain the survivors must endure that prevents me from pulling the trigger. I can’t fail my children by utilizing the final exit solution. Why? The pain is so great. I thought I was uniquely capable to handle 40 years of tragedy. I am not unique nor capable. It’s not the calls so much, but the shit that happens after.
The administration’s disinterest and second guessing when I just tried my best to save somebody. It’s my peers in the fire department and others whom tease, gossip, and humiliate me because I am not like them. It’s the sanctions that I receive when I report behavior that is by all estimates to be unacceptable and unprofessional. Where are the pats on the back? The commendations, not plaques or awards, but just the acknowledgement that a job was done well in difficult circumstances.
Does anybody even know it hurts so bad? Do they even care? Just be on time for the shift, make sure the paperwork is filled out correctly, don’t rock the boat, look the other way because nobody has the balls to confront or fix it. Racism, sexism, misogyny, teasing about depression, it’s all there.
Do you even know how many of your peers hurt? Do you care? Do you care enough to take them aside and ask them if they hurt? Maybe all they need is a bit of encouragement and acknowledgement that it is so difficult. Friends- there are none. Too damaged, to messed up for regular people to understand. To scared that somebody may find out.
Forty years on the job, a failing marriage, its tough being married to a broken person. A failing retirement, I am not a “hero’ anymore, I don’t, and can’t save anybody again. I became confused, my worth as a human is from what ” I do” not what “I am”. But I can’t and don’t do it anymore. So, I go every other week and try to get help. Try to learn that pulling the trigger is not an acceptable alternative. I think of my wonderful children, frightened because they are also on the job.
Will they do better than I? I pray they will. I hope it’s better for them, that the business understands that toughness is bullshit hiding the pain. Yet, when I am alone, I hear the unbelievable cry of pain when I had to tell a mother her child is dead. The incredible sadness of the mentally ill living in squalor without anybody to care. I see the soul wrenching acts that humans will do to each other, to their children or spouse’s due to anger, drugs or mental illness. I have saved hundreds, but I remember none.
I have seen things I cannot talk about because nobody should ever know that humans are capable of that depravity. I long for the joy of the wilderness, appreciating the simple joy of life and living. It’s hiding somewhere behind the blackness. Medication, therapy, treatment, they work a bit, but IT”S always there, calling, teasing, ” come-on pull the trigger”.
– Story written by an Advanced Paramedic in his 60s. 40 years in EMS.