I remember telling people over the years that being a paramedic was not the be all and end all of my identity. Yes, I loved my profession (and still do), but I was positive that I could take the good memories that I had and ‘move on’ to a different profession if need be. Wow, was I wrong! I am learning now how being a paramedic is deeply rooted in my psyche. For fourteen years it allowed me to feel like I was making a difference in the world every day. It gave me purpose and filled me with a passion for education. It allowed me to provide financially for my family. I was proud, happy and accomplished. I WAS A PARAMEDIC. Now…well I don’t know what I am.
I have come to the conclusion that I am without a doubt grieving the loss of part of my identity. So many people would give anything to stop doing their job, but I was never one of those people. Not to be insensitive to other professions, but being a first responder is more than just a profession, it’s a passion, and now having to accept that I may for the rest of my life be doing a job that I am not passionate about because I have a mental injury is very difficult for me. Allow me to elaborate…
I went from closing down highways so that helicopters could land, to closing the fridge on a good day if I choose to eat. I went from phoning base-hospital physicians to get permission to pronounce a death, to being suffocated by anxiety and not able to phone anyone at all. I went from performing life saving skills such as chest needles and intubations, to only being able to perform the life saving skill of taking my own breath. I went from teaching others how to run a dynamic cardiac arrest, to teaching others how to leave me alone so that I don’t get triggered. I went from feeling pride when I put on my uniform, to not being able to look at my uniform at all without bawling my eyes out. I went from racing to calls with the lights and sirens on, to the racing of my heart even while I’m alone in my house. I went from having friends at work to laugh with every day, to barely seeing those friends at all. I went from feeling successful, to feeling like a failure.
Don’t get me wrong, any job is a blessing, but being a paramedic is more than just a job, it’s part of who I am, and rewiring that part of my conscious and subconscious world is exhausting, confusing and very difficult.
I’m not trying to sound like a complaining, ungrateful person. All I’m saying is that changing a part of me that I loved SO MUCH is not easy.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the 5 stages of grief, you can learn them by watching this super cute clip below. I think I’m close to number 5…acceptance.