This blog, shared in a public post on Facebook, was spotted by one of our reporters.
We felt that John’s words needed to be shared with as many people as possible in order to raise awareness regarding PTSD in the emergency services:
“My name is John, and I work as a Paramedic for WMAS.
In 2003 I attended an incident that would unexpectedly change my life forever.
I attended a horrific job involving children… this incident occurred around Christmas time which I feel intensified the experience.
After the incident, I felt different, but I couldn’t explain it.
I was scared and felt I was isolated. I was beginning to feel something I had never experienced before…
It was as if my emotional centre had switched off, and I became numb. I couldn’t even cry or feel sad. 1 week after the incident, I would cry and laugh at the same time, and I couldn’t understand why.
My emotions were in turmoil, and I still didn’t know what was happening… all I knew was that I wasn’t normal but couldn’t identify what was going on.
2 weeks after the incident, I started to experience anxiety that was so disabling it began controlling my life. I couldn’t even remember my own name or address, I felt unable to leave the house, & I found myself avoiding everyone.
My stress levels were through the roof… as time went on, I developed depression with associated flashbacks and nightmares.
Things got so bad that I started to develop suicidal thoughts and one evening, I contemplated taking my own life. It was like riding a wild horse without any reigns, and I had no control over anything in my life.
I even thought about self-harming because it gave me a feeling of release and put me back in control.
My anger was terrible, I couldn’t turn my angry outbursts down, and they become so bad I felt I became dangerous.
It was at that point that I knew I needed help. I built up the courage to see my GP, and I notified the service.
I was sent for counselling and was later diagnosed with PTSD.
I was prescribed medication which helped me cope through the darkest of times, and I read self-help books to try and help me gain some understanding of the condition.
It took me a further eight years to recover- to the point of functioning again.
To this day, I still suffer, but nothing like I did in the early days.
I suffer from depression on a daily basis, and I have various ways which work for me in terms of managing it. Sometimes it is difficult, and my head feels as though it gets pulled under the water again, but I always manage to pop back up above the waves.
I remember PTSD like a game of snakes and ladders.
No ladder goes to square 100, and no snake goes to square 1. In basic terms, I will never be 100%, but I will never go back to square 1….life will never be the same, I know that now.
We cant ‘unsee’ what we have seen.
I know talking for me really was the best medicine and bottling it up was the worst.
I would like to raise the awareness of PTSD because I know many colleagues suffer from it, and the more we can all talk about it, the stronger we become… as a team we can fight PTSD!
I hope that by raising awareness from my own personal experience, it will help others in the darkest days and that perhaps my experience will somehow bring a positive change to future sufferers.
If possible, I’m going to use my photography with the help of my business partner Nat Ravenscroft to really raise awareness of this condition.
Emergency services staff and volunteers are routinely exposed to distressing and traumatic incidents, as well as having demanding workload pressures.
As a result, they are more at risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than the general population.
* 1 in 4 Emergency Service Workers have thought about ending their life.
* 62% of Emergency Workers said they had experienced a mental health problem- such as PTSD, Anxiety, Depression and Bipolar Disorder while working in the service.
(Above Information taken from Mind UK Charity 2019)
My goal is I will need 12 volunteers that have suffered PTSD.
I want people to be from all sectors of the emergency services, Fire, Police Ambulance.
My aim with Nat Ravenscroft is to build a calendar with a professional photo, including the biography of their journey through PTSD.
I know it will be painful. I shall be one of the 12.
It will be conducted in a sensitive manner with the utmost respect given.
In my own experience, there is no substitute in this life for experience, and I know experienced professionals that have gone through this can help others.
I will get SALS involved and PTSD charities.
Elaine Weaver has already been notified of this plan, and we hope to take it forward maybe national.
It’s in the initial stages, but I will need volunteers to chat with who have experienced PTSD.
Can you please message me if you are up for it.
I do understand this condition.
Many of my close friends at work know that went to hell and back.
Many thanks, John Millard.”
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