You have come a long way since June 26, 1996. When you became an EMT you had no idea that it would change parts of your personality forever.
I don't know how to explain this to you other than to say you suffered a trauma that was very personal causing you personal physical harm. You didn't know that someone was going to try to take your life and that you had to plan a funeral for yourself but what you really didn't know is the pain that would come after June 26th that you could never have imagined in your wildest dreams.
Teresa, you continued to do the job you loved for ten years after this incident but you changed. You had always been the one that people wanted to hug as soon as they saw you coming to work. Your smile, your laugh, your patience all payed a price for something that wasn't your fault. You became surly and short with people who loved you. You didn't know that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was just beginning to take over your life. You refused to sleep on your bed even though your apartment was behind a restaurant on the second floor in a bitchin' loft. You were afraid that even though your blinds were always closed that somehow someone would see you and come upstairs and kill you. You refused to answer the phone because you were afraid someone was trying to find out if you were home so they could come and kill you. You would sit in between your bed and the wall in an area that was the shape of a coffin and you didn't move from that spot until it was dark unless you had to use the bathroom then you crawled on your belly to get there. You then would put a huge towel over your head to cover you body hoping that the person that wanted to kill you was not looking into your windowless bathroom at that time. When it became dark you would silently go to the local WaWA , get a pint of chocolate ice cream and go back to the coffin area. These were your days off.
Teresa you continued to work at the job you loved for seven years after you were assaulted and you did everything you could to be a Rock Star. You tried very hard to change your personality back to the one you came to the job with but the only way to do this was to disassociate yourself. You were still Teresa but there were two of you. The train wreck on your days off and the best EMT you could be on the days you worked. You would watch yourself and try to improve your behavior and have the same empathy and care for your patients that you started this job with. Teresa, I don't know if you pulled it off but I know you tried and that's important.
Teresa, when you couldn't force yourself to go to work anymore it became an attendance issue. You were embarrassed but you did't know what to say. One of the chiefs pulled you aside one day and asked you what was going on. He said he couldn't believe that your slip in attendance wasn't you. You were a good employee and were always happy to be on the truck. He asked you if you were having nightmares. You sure as hell were. They scared you so bad that when you would wake up soaked in sweat and scared to death the confusion was horrible. He also asked you were scared to come to work. You couldn't believe that he knew that. He read your mind. Once you confessed that this was happening he sent you to a therapist, the first of many. It didn't really help. The last straw for you was the patient that punched you in the face and knocked you out cold. You, of course, hit the only damned tree in the area with your head. When you woke up in the ambulance with Chief leaning over you all you could think was, " why is my underwear wet?" It was pouring that night.
Teresa, you didn't leave this job because you wanted to your psyche just couldn't do it anymore. This was the end. The sad, hard end of the job that you loved, the ability to be part of the team that you loved with people that you loved. You were devastated and the depression was immediate. This was the beginning of hell.
Teresa, you tried to hide the symptoms but your best friend Linda wouldn't let you stay alone and afraid. She wouldn't let you stay in your bathroom closet all the time. She made you leave your apartment but she couldn't stop the things that were happening to you. Teresa,. no one could stop the shame that you felt for letting this happen to you. You never gave yourself a break. You just wanted to die and have it be over with. The pain was so great that you just wanted it to stop. You wanted the hallucination to stop following you everywhere you went. He was a small man with a bald head, he wore a yellow polo shirt and jeans with white high tops. He had a large knife always risen, always ready to strike. He drove in the car with you. He slept on your bed. He watched you shower. He sat in the backseat of your car and it seemed like he was looking for you, like he couldn't find you but the knife was right above my head.
Teresa, you struggled with leaving your house and you still do sometimes. You were so afraid of the dark that it caused you to be frozen. The only thing you could do in the dark was speak to your friend Debbie who belonged to N.A.M.I. The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. She was going through some of the same things you were. You struggle with periods of time when you can't even speak but you try. It's frustrating to you because you don't know when it's coming, how long it's going to be here or why.
Thunder, fireworks, knocks on my door ,and the doorbell all still cause you great anxiety. You actual hide from the doorbell and knocks on the door and you don't know why. This event happened more than 20 yrs ago. P.T.S.D has caused you so much pain but in the end, Teresa you are still you. You can love everyone as much as you want to. You work through the scary things the best that you can and I'm proud of you.
You live with your sister and your cats and dogs. This cat that you see here was one of the very soothing things that got you through life for all these years. I couldn't show you pictures of Elvis because they have all been destroyed but he was the one who stayed in the bathroom closet with you and when you were scared all you needed to do was touch him and feel his breath. You relaxed when you felt the rumbles of his body that go along with purring. He saw you through and you miss him with all your might. He died in your arms. The anguish was to much to bear. I know I will see him again someday.
Teresa P.T.S.D. changed you that's a fact but today is your birthday and the start of another personal new year with all the promises of new adventures, places, people and things. You tell yourself that every year some of these years were better than others but you didn't stop trying. I'm proud of you for that. I hope that one day this will all go away but even if it doesn't you are going to move forward a little at a time. Be good to yourself Teresa.