Saturday, April 21, 2012

Healing begins...

I remember the day vividly.  Heat, dust, that smell in the air, the taste of the fucking place.  I was in the middle of the Sunni Triangle and had just finished another mass casualty incident, not the drill type.  A suicide bomber had blown up a DFAC near Mosul and it was the breaking point for me.  That was the day my ability to have compassion died.  That was the day empathy left me.  That was the day that I told God to go fuck himself.  That day I became a robot...No emotion on the outside, empty being on the inside.  If I lost one more patient I was going to die myself.  I turned from compassion and empathy to hate and rage in order to survive.  I had reached the point of emotionally losing it so I forgot how to care and started treating slabs of meat, not Brothers and Sisters that shared the uniform with me.

I shared this with a counselor at the VA a few weeks after my blow up at work.  It was the day my emotional self began to heal.  I had forgotten how to feel emotions and be a human being.  By looking at and talking about the breaking point I had experienced it allowed me to begin to tear down the wall I had put up inside.  I cried.  I sobbed.  I cried some more.  I am sure the Counselor contemplated committing me that day.  I took the cap off of the bottle and began letting out years of emotions in a healthy and controlled environment.

I eventually had to go through two years of therapy to get where I am today.  I am still not the same person I was before but, I have a good understanding of what it takes to stay sane and emotionally stable to be an effective clinician.  I still have the bad days, days that will be forever engrained in memory.  I still have dreams and nightmares, they are like that horrible 50 Cent song set on repeat on the CD player, and there is no escape from them.

We all have had that one scene or one call that stung deep and threatened to unravel us.  That is OK and normal.  It is what we do with that experience that will determine who we are as clinicians and how effective we are at treating our patients.  Everyone is different and there is no one fix to emotional scares.  There is however a fix for each of us that will allow us to cope.  Take it from a badass Soldier, talk to someone, see a professional, or whatever is needed.  We are all human and it is not a sign of weakness to say you need help.

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