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Paramedic Nat

A Blog About a Paramedic's Mental Health Journey

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March 2020

So Much More Than Just “Ambulance Drivers”

I Would Like To “Report An Error” – My response to the latest opinion column by Heather Mallick

Yesterday I was sent a link to this article. Many. Times. As soon as it crossed the path of anyone who has experienced PTSD (directly or indirectly) they were infuriated by this opinion column; and I can understand why.

I read the article, took a deep breath, shook my head, made a puzzled face (I’m sure of it), did a double-check to see that this was in fact printed in the Toronto Star, checked the author’s credentials (none exist on this topic), and instantly knew that I would use the 24-hour rule before sharing my thoughts on author Heather Mallick’s use of language surrounding PTSD. Phrases like, “story of the moment”, and “it’s (the abbreviation PTSD) so handy”, are not only offensive, they are life-threateningly ignorant. What’s actually so handy, is being able to write about a topic you have completely no expertise in because it’s your column, and it’s classified as “opinion”.

Stating that, (her view of what is the “story of the moment”) PTSD, “occupied busy minds without sparking new insights or creating permanent help” is a true insult to the years of research and dedication in which experts have contributed to helping save the lives of those battling with the symptoms of PTSD – and this discrediting action is where opinion columns get seriously dangerous.

If I was not quite versed in the psychology and physiology of PTSD, I may have read this article and felt ashamed of my diagnosis. I may have felt that I was crazy (for lack of a better word, and to carry on with the theme of poor terminology) when my debilitating PTSD symptoms, which caused my inability to go grocery shopping without preferring to die by suicide, were something I was just supposed to accept as “life”. I may have withdrawn even more from society and stopped seeking life-saving treatment because according to Ms. Mallick, I’m just over-thinking my “natural stressed state”. Sigh. Her opinion could actually lead to untreated PTSD symptoms, which could lead to death – and that is never the, “story of the moment”.

We should all be concerned when opinion masquerades as fact. I think that the only way to stop the potentially harmful effects of this article is for the Toronto Star to recant it, and allow the experts to weigh in on how, ironically, it was Ms. Mallick who, “stretched (PTSD) far beyond its meaning”.

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