{November 12, 2013}   Coping Skills

mvaThe tones went out for this motor vehicle accident at 17:57 this evening. Two of the occupants were flown to a major hospital by helicopter from the scene and it will be a miracle if either of them survive.

In Fire and EMS we tend to joke about these horrific calls as a way to cope with the horror we are faced with. It seems morbid, or even disturbing, to people who do not deal with these scenes. But for us it’s the only way we know. So… Don’t Drink and drive, or I get to see you naked!

Think people! And stay safe!

{August 21, 2012}   Learning to Cope With Death

This morning I got my first “cold call”. Meaning I was called to a residence for a seventy-nine year old female who was unconscious, unresponsive and not breathing. 911 updated us that she didn’t have a pulse, there was no CPR in progress and the body was cold, we were to continue with traffic. Unfortunately, this happens in my town quite often because we have a lot of elderly folks. I think I could get used to dealing with “bodies” instead of patients. We have a saying in EMS: “They’re already dead, anything you do to help them cannot hurt them”. So deceased patients are our safest patients for legal purposes. Anyways… the part I think I’ll always have a hard time with is dealing with the families. They’re distraught whether it was an unexpected death or not. You just can’t help but feel for them because everyone has endured the death of a loved one, we all know how it feels to lose someone.

So my conclusion is: it’s not the bodies that will creep into my nightmares, it’s the people left behind to cope with the loss. It’s the families that will haunt me. How do you cope with that when you have to deal with it all of the time? Can you really become detached from the situation? Can you ever really get used to it?

{February 12, 2012}   ~Releases~

     I have decided to share some of the things I do to de-stress or calm my anxiety. I am by no means a professional, just a patient, but I have found from experience that some or most of my strategies are very commonly used by others. As many people do, I tend to use alcohol or drugs, but I won’t recommend you do. It’s a very unhealthy coping mechanism and it’s harmful. It’s one of those- “it’s okay if I do it, but not if you do”- things. I will leave any and all harmful coping strategies out of my list, for obvious reasons.
MUSIC! Who doesn’t like music? I have found it’s helpful for me to listen to music when I am angry or depressed. Depending on which mood I’m in, I like to listen to a variety of music. When I’m angry it’s usually Godsmack, Finger Eleven, Trapt, Suicide Machines and other rock music. When I’m feeling down and depressed, I tend to listen to Matchbox Twenty, Ani DeFranco, Mellissa Etheridge, Alanis Morrissette, Collective Soul and a lot of Alternative music. ***I have found that if I am feeling anxious, noise furthers that feeling, and so music becomes irritating and upsetting rather than therapeutic.***
WRITING. Penning anything on paper is very helpful. Whether it be a poem, a journal entry or scribbling (I fucking hate ____, what a great day!, etc.). For me, just feeling the scratch of the pen or pencil on the paper is very comforting; it makes me feel like I have control over something, anything. I use this strategy on a daily basis for every and any reason- feeling angry, depressed, happy, accomplished, anxious, etc… One thing I have discovered: I tried using my laptop to write/type therapeutically to save on paper and pens (I go through a lot of paper and ink), but it didn’t help. I need to feel the pen scratching the paper; I need to feel my hands making my thoughts appear.
CREATIVITY. Painting, drawing or building something. I tend to enjoy painting on my neutral days, when I don’t feel much of anything, when I’m in that mode where nothing’s wrong but nothing’s right. Where I’m not happy or depressed. Drawing goes along the same lines of writing for me, feeling the pencil scratch on the paper, feeling that sense of complete control. Building something when you feel down or depressed can really lift you up, make you feel a sense of accomplishment.
EXERCISE. Walking, weight lifting, jogging, using a punching bag, hiking… anything physical that releases endorphins and battles stress. I have found that being able to do any of these activities outdoors is particularly joyful. I get a sense that there’s so much I have yet to see and I feel connected to the present. And your body naturally releases endorphins and other feel-good chemicals that can help bring you out of your slump or magnify those good feelings you already have.
And finally… psychotherapy. I know it’s not for everyone, but given my mental health issues it’s a life saver. Just to have someplace to go to feel safe and have someone there who is willing to listen to me and my problems, unbiased and free of judgment. I would highly recommend that anyone suffering from psychological issues give psychotherapy a try. It’s really helped me.

Feel free to add to this list. I am interested in learning new coping skills and seeing what works for other people as well.

et cetera