The following story was submitted by a firefighter and published on the basis of anonymity. USPC publishes these blogs as part of our mission of outreach to let others know they really are not alone. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact us.
People whom suffer from mental health issues often get that way because they have experienced hell on earth. Having anxiety, PTSD and other issues bring on a hell all of their own. I would like to take this opportunity to tell you about my own personal trip to hell on earth that occurred on July 21, 2019.
I had gotten into a heated argument someone and went into the worst anxiety attack I’ve had to date. Bits and pieces of memory from that day are still coming back to me. Some of the events from that day I remember, others had to be filled in by friends and my fellow responders.
At some point during the argument, I managed to grab two bottles of pills and sneak them into my pocket. I was halfway across the yard headed for the road when a friend of mine called me. She could hardly understand me because I was in total hysterics. I told her that she needed to come get me now because I had two bottles of pills with every intent on taking them, even though deep down I knew I couldn’t. At some point a truck pulled up and someone asked if they should call 911, but I didn’t answer. I could barely get words out as my friend’s mom stayed on the phone with me. Another man came to me and I remember falling to my knees and handing him my phone.
He introduced himself as a combat medic with the United States Army. He gave me sips of ice cold water he had just brought from home (he was on his way to work and stopped to help). Someone else was pouring cool water on my neck to keep me from overheating. I remember my Captain’s girlfriend sitting on the side of the road with me and holding me while I screamed over and over that my best friend hated me. I was later told she had been standing a few feet away letting me know she was there and she didn’t hate me. I remember several people reassuring me I was going to be ok and that I needed to breathe. Every once in a while they handed me a towel so I could wipe the snot and tears that ran from my face. At one point they were concerned I was having a heart attack because I kept grabbing my chest which felt like someone was stabbing it. I was gasping for air and at times felt like I was trying to swallow a golf ball. I heard several “hang in there, buddys” as I was being loaded into the ambulance.
The EMT in the back of the ambulance helped me the only way she could, by talking to me. She didn’t talk to me like I was a patient, but an equal. When I left home I put on the first shoes that didn’t require untying or tying…which happened to be my “fuzzy man crocs”, which the EMT said she would love to have. We talked about how I applied for the upcoming EMT class and how it seemed to be the only thing I was good at. She wished me luck as her and her partner left me at the ER and told me we better be on the same side of the stretcher next time we meet.
After three and a half hours I left the local emergency room without being seen. I had been placed on a reclining chair in the hallway for all to see. All I could think was, I need to get out of here. The nurse let me walk out with a handshake and a “come back if it gets worse”. I was mentally and physically exhausted.
I returned home that night and hugged and talked it out with the person whom I had the argument with. It took me three days before I stopped feeling the physical effects of that day.
Today I’m back in therapy and trying to figure out why I had such a bad attack that day over something as simple as an argument. Today I am okay.