EMS with anxiety.. is this the wrong career?

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Sorry for a long mental health type post but i have to get it off my chest.

Ive had anxiety most, if not all, of my life. In the recent years, some months I'm good, other months the anxiety hits hard. I've been on meds and counseling and it helps somewhat... until I self sabotage and stop both, then I'm back to square one.

I decided a couple years ago I was going to join a local volley fire dept. I wanted to help people and I thought it'd help with my confidence and what not. They put me through emt class and I had a emt gig before the ink dried on the certificate.

Immediately I hated 24/48s, not because of the length, but the anxiety of waiting for the tone to drop. I could NOT sleep there. So I dropped to 12s. I was told it'd get better. Here I am almost a exact year later, and it's gotten worse. Even after being told I'm doing well on calls, I lack confidence and I'm on edge every second of the shift waiting for the tone.

I do majority IFT, but am 911 second out when first crew is busy. I know I need to work more 911 to gain that confidence, but it's overcome with that anxiety.

I do love what i do... but is it even worth it any more? I'm mentally tired from fighting with the anxiety. I don't fit in with the crew so feel like I'm alone in it all. It's not even like PTSD anxiety/depression, its just i feel like im not good at life. It's to the point I feel like it was a mistake to join ems.
 

mgr22

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I do love what i do... but is it even worth it any more? I'm mentally tired from fighting with the anxiety. I don't fit in with the crew so feel like I'm alone in it all. It's not even like PTSD anxiety/depression, its just i feel like im not good at life. It's to the point I feel like it was a mistake to join ems.
What do you love about what you do? In what ways do you feel you don't fit in? Other than EMS, what are you having trouble with?
 
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Recog

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On 911? im not sure. The rush I guess. Did CPR for the first time the other day, was heckin satisfying pulling into the bay and the medic finding a pulse. They lost it again a little later and called it, but when we left the hospital he was technically alive. I thought "hm. maybe i did something right" and thought id feel better about this situation but it hasnt changed. On IFT? The elderly. My grandmas have both passed. My grandpa is 93. After sitting talking to the elderly, i gain many more grandparents. And i dont have to sit at a desk all day, i get fresh air, see many sunsets, etc.

I came from the restaurant life. I worked with the same crew for 9 yrs until i got burnt out. They became my family. I thought about going back but i dont know if ill get enough hours to support myself. Now I essentially have to relearn how to make friends. Ive got probably 10 yrs of age on the oldest crew member here (aside from my coordinator). Most of them went to high school together or are in the same circle of friends. So if theyre all here for family dinners, theyre all grouped up. Could I join them? Probably, but I already know they talk behind my back.

Trouble with other than EMS? The anxiety/depression. I never had the closure when my last grandma passed so i think about that daily. My father pretty much walked out of my life like 10 yrs ago, my brother did a few months ago. The only reason im honestly alive is my dog.
 

mgr22

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What do you think caused your burnout working in restaurants?

Why did you decide to go off your anxiety meds and quit counseling?
 

ffemtrb

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I normally read threads and do not post, but after reading your message and the reply, I also needed to give a reply.
What I see is you have had a lot of challenges in your life and career choices. The food service industry can be more stressful
than what you have as an emergency responder. Sounds like you went from the frying pan into the fire.

I must congratulate you on wanting to serve your community, taking training, and attaining your EMT certification. You have achieved more than most and you should take pride in these accomplishments. Job well done!

People join emergency services(fire, police and EMS) for a number of reasons - to serve their communities, to help their fellow humans, for excitement(adrenaline junkies), for camaraderie, to gain a new peer group, former military wanting to serve in civilian life, and then there are the darker reasons that I will not go into. There are many stresses in emergency response agencies and a variety of people, personalities and egos to deal with. Not everyone will be your friend, but they may not be your enemy either. Waiting for tones to drop can be stressful, periods of no calls can be stressful and having 5 calls back to back has another whole kind of stress. This is a stressful profession/avocation and a lot of the rewards you feel come from within at the end of a call. For every call you go on, no matter how insignificant if may seem, you have the opportunity to make a difference in someone's life - what you do can be huge to someone who called 911.

The unfortunate trend is mental health issues are on a great rise among emergency responders. It is to your credit that you realize you are stressed and having negative feelings about your service as an EMT. You do not want the negative feeling to rule your life. In some emergency response disciplines the dirty little secret is there are more suicides than line of duty deaths. Their are also parallels to these trends in the military. Please don't go down that road. Peer support, critical incident debriefing and psychological health and safety is now being viewed with the same importance as universal precautions and the use of PPE.

If serving as an EMT is causing you undue stress and negative feelings, maybe this is a sign that you might want to look for another path for your life. If you are having negative feelings in your head, it is not a good situation. I saw that you said the only reason you are alive is your dog. As an animal lover I know the value of my dogs and guinea pigs, they are family. Maybe you might want to look into serving in animal rescue, serving in an animal shelter, getting certified as a vet tech or working in an animal service career environment. Please look into local peer support mechanisms that could assist you. Call 988 if you need assistance or someone to connect you with more support services.

The important thing is to take care of yourself first and foremost. In most trainings you should have been told the most important thing is to ensure the safety of the person sitting in your seat, then your partner/crew, other responders and then civilians. I give you much credit for being brave enough to post your feelings. I think most every emergency responder has had negative feelings at some point in their career. Realize that you are not alone in this and please take care and be safe.
 

chriscemt

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Immediately I hated 24/48s, not because of the length, but the anxiety of waiting for the tone to drop. I could NOT sleep there. So I dropped to 12s. I was told it'd get better. Here I am almost a exact year later, and it's gotten worse

I mean, it seems like you're answering this question yourself.
 

berkeman

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Ive had anxiety most, if not all, of my life. In the recent years, some months I'm good, other months the anxiety hits hard. I've been on meds and counseling and it helps somewhat... until I self sabotage and stop both, then I'm back to square one.
This is the primary thing to focus on, IMO. The secondary things are 12s vs. 24s and the sleep aspect.

Are you currently on your meds and back in counselling? If not, there is not much we can help with, IMO. If you are back on your meds and back in couselling, maybe you can find some support within your group of friends to help you stay on that path.
 

spimx

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start studying for nursing school or get on a fire department that has real benefits and collective bargaining and civil service protection
 
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