I started my journey downhill in the mid 90s, having spent too much time in various conflict zones and dodgy situations, and having witnessed one too many bad outcomes. None of that really bothered me. I was one tough dude when it came to that sort of thing.
That’s what we all say. By 2005 my spouse did the ‘intervention’ and told me in no uncertain terms to get help. So I did. NDMC diagnosed me with depression & PTSD, and my road to healing started. I had started not taking care of myself mentally, and looking back I was bailed out in the nick of time. In 2001 I had joined the local volunteer fire department, and in part thanks to that I was still around: the only thing that kept me from being really dumb more than once was the thought that ‘my brothers are going to have to clean up this mess’.
The health care team at CFB Kingston looked after me, as did the local psych I was sent to. If it wasn’t for Dr Gosja Knap I wouldn’t be here today. It took from 2005 and a super supportive spouse, and I’m still having regular but much less frequent visits with my psych here in Ottawa, and I’m still on meds. But I’m better.
Then last year I met Farid and we talked at length. That’s when I realized the main reason I had joined the Fire Department: I needed to give back. Everything that had messed me up revolved around either not being able to help, or being involved in negative things without any potential for positive outcomes. So while being a firefighter isn’t without its own issues, for me at the time the positive outweighed the negative. Everything I did was with the intention of helping one or more people. I saw brothers & sisters hurt though, and there was a negative side for me as well; firefighters attending calls involving family members, seeing loss and grief, and realizing that 80% of the motor vehicle accidents we responded to involved alcohol, and usually the greatest trauma was not to those who had been drinking. I left in 2010 because we moved, but it was probably a good time to pack it in anyway. Trauma is a cumulative thing. The figurative straw on the camel’s back, and if you’re already carrying a load there is no telling when it’s going to be too much ‘again’.
So now I’m here with Aftermath. Here is another opportunity for me to give back, this time with much fewer negative risks. And doing so in a way that will help others learn to reconnect with community and give back themselves. I’m in. Yeah, I’ve got ulterior motives – this is part of my own healing too. And la pura vida as an environment to do it in doesn’t hurt!
Read more about Ron in this Aftermath Chats article.