Mentally tough enough to be an EMT?

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I was first interested in becoming an EMT a couple of years ago. I went and got my EMR training, not sure if its different in the U.S, I believe it is, but its basically that to basic to paramedic up here. I was really into it but fell into a deep depression and was diagnosed with clinical depression and generalized anxiety disorder the following months after my course.


Its been 2 years and I don't know where the time went. It has been spent trying to heal, I've been living in my head for so long I feel damaged.

Back when I got my EMR, seeing gross things and thinking of accidents and what not didn't phase me. The fact that I was going to be doing something important engulfed that feeling and its as if it didn't exist. I was good to go.

Now, I'm not sure if its because I'm older, or because my anxiety and depression has left me like this but thinking of people in accidents and thinking of people who would otherwise live a full life dying in my hands makes my anxiety go through the roof. I'm a different person. I feel if I'm to see that sort of stuff I won't be able to help but think about the same thing happening to my family. This might be a red flag - don't be an emt right? The thing is that the job is calling to me. I WANT to work in EMS, I just don't want to get there and hurt my mental state. Part of me thinks that if I start working within EMS, I will face my fears - and my anxiety will go away. I will feel useful. My whole life I've just wanted to be part of something. The question is will this counteract the things I see enough to make me a viable emt? I feel like the fact that I'll have some control over a situation will settle me down.

I remember during my time of mental anguish I was up at about 2 or 3 am because I couldn't sleep due to my thoughts, I heard my dad choking, I got up and was automatically giving abdominal thrusts. It turned out he was only choking on his spit, but he's getting old and I thought the worst, along with him believing the worst at the time. I went back to bed and fell right asleep. It was almost like the fact that I controlled the situation healed me for the night.

I'm a controlling person, admittedly, and working in EMS - I know I wouldn't be able to save the world, but I will have some control over it. I turn on the news and I see bad thigns happening, I can't even watch the news anymore because all it is is feeding me these bad happenings and I feel powerless. If I'm out there I feel like I'll be doing something positive... but this is the gamble. Will I really feel alright, or will it make my fear worse?

Anyways, this is getting a bit long winded - I guess my question is the following: Did any of you EMT's/Paramedics experience this sort of mental anguish before and during your time as a part of EMS? Was it not as bad as it seemed? Did it actually help your anxiety to work within EMS?

Am I completely a no go for this type of job?
 
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Aprz

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Sounds like you've already done a good self assessment and already know the answer, but you don't want to believe it's true. You need somebody to tell you it's true. The things you are saying sound very over dramatic, and I don't think EMS will be good for you for now. Things like "full life dying in my hands" and "up at about 2 or 3 am because I couldn't sleep due to my thoughts, I heard my dad choking, I got up and was automatically giving abdominal thrusts. It turned out he was only choking on his spit, but he's getting old and I thought the worst" are major red flags for me.

I assume you are already speaking to a professional about your thoughts since you were diagnosed. Keep talking, and hopefully one day you'll be well enough to return.
 
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The fact that my dad got up seemingly choking and I hopped up to give abdominal thrusts is over dramatic? I appreciate your opinion and it does help in the grand scheme of things but I'm not being over dramatic, this is reality for me. I would think the aspect of seeing people die and automatically tying them to my family would be the dramatic part if anything. I've lived in hell In my head for 2 years, please tell me how I can properly word myself to not be so "dramatic". I know my conditions well, they are the cause of my thoughts and if you're telling me that clinical depression and GAD are "over dramatic" kindly read up on these conditions.

I'm not trying to be confrontational, I appreciate the criticism. Ive heard that phrase from people who have no idea what its like to deal with these mental conditions a lot in the last 2 years though "over dramatic". Every time it gets me fuming because it stems for ignorance. I've healed a lot but the thoughts still linger.

All this being said, you may be right. Ill reevaluate.
 

Mariemt

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I know what it is like to have depression. I know what it is like to have GAD.... so take it from someone who knows.

You can't control every situation. The fact you slept better after your fathers incident shows you still feel out of control. The thought of people dying in your care brings anxiety.

You still feel out of control.

Get this under wraps before you move forward.
 

Aidey

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I don't think he is saying your conditions are overly dramatic, but your responses might be. Very very few of the patients we see are dying. If your mindset leads to you always assume the worst case scenario about every patient, you're going to have major issues because the majority of people we transport are barely sick, let alone have life threatening conditions.
 

augustHorch

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I don't think he is saying your conditions are overly dramatic, but your responses might be. Very very few of the patients we see are dying. If your mindset leads to you always assume the worst case scenario about every patient, you're going to have major issues because the majority of people we transport are barely sick, let alone have life threatening conditions.

this^^^
 
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The reaction to my dad was after him getting up, pointing to his throat (the universal sign for choking) and only letting out minor sounds. I apologize for not fleshing that occurrence out a little more. It happened really quickly. I don't believe it to be overly dramatic.

I guess my fear stems more from relating these possible happenings to my family, and not necessarily the fact that I believe people are going to die in my hands everyday - that is unrealistic. Regardless, id imagine detaching myself from a given situation would be what id have to practice, and what's more my
thoughts are obviously due to my condition still lingering. What i was trying to get at was maybe facing my fears would bring me back to reality a little bit.

Thanks for the feedback. Appreciate it.
 
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NomadicMedic

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I think you're overthinking this. It's obvious from your post that you have not sufficiently dealt with your anxiety issues. Certainly, worrying that each patient is going to die and identifying them with your family isn’t a healthy state of mind to be in. In fact, it may make you a liability on scene.

EMS doesn't seem like a good fit for you. It may be time to investigate other career options.

Sorry. I call 'em as I see 'em.
 
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Maybe you're right about having not sufficiently dealt with my anxiety issues. Certainly, I'm aware that if this state of mind is to stay it would make me a liability and not an asset on scene. Which is why I was trying to find out if this sort of thought process happens to anyone even after a while of working in EMS.

I think people are misunderstanding me - I was providing examples to further detail my question. I'm probably over thinking it but im an analytical person by nature. Yes, I've dealt with anxiety issues the last 2 years, was I like this before? No. I used to watch people getting surgery as a kid growing up. Obviously I've had reasons to have become like this. I've seen people get broken femurs, broken bones, worked in a hospital with mental patients one of which decided to assault me with his eating utensils, knife included.

My point was at the end of it all was does anyone deal with anxiety and attaching themselves emotionally too often to a patient? Does it ever affect other aspects of your life?

Maybe I will go ahead and try to get certified. I'll come back here and bump this thread when that time comes. Not in an effort to say "I told you so" but in an effort to show you all that facing your fears and overcoming them is possible. I didn't want anyone to come in here and tell me "Its gonna be alright" and wipe my *** for me - I just wanted something constructive to work off of. Instead I got the opposite from a couple of you. Sad, but maybe I'll be back. Cya.
 

Aidey

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I'm not sure EMS is the best field to prove you can face your fears. For example, say someone is afraid of blood and they want to get over their fear, so they become an EMT. They see a little blood, and they get nauseous, but it isn't too bad. Ok great, it seems to be getting better, but the next call they see a lot of blood, and they pass out. Not good.

You may get your EMT, get on an ambulance and do fine for a while. But then you get a call for a pt the same age as your dad, with the same first name, and he is having a major heart attack and is very sick. What happens if you have a panic attack and freeze up?

Unless you know you can handle what you might see without having issues, being on an amb isn't a good plan. Wanting to face your fears is admirable, but you shouldn't be doing it in a setting where people are depending on you to be able to do your job. I would not want my partner driving while having a major panic attack.
 

Fire51

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It seems like you have made up your mind already by the way you answer every bodies comments. If you think your ready then try it but people are just saying that the job will probably get to you to much. But again if you want to try it to see what it does then go for it and if it starts to affect you don't keep doing it, that would be the worst for you and your patients. I wish you the best of luck and hope you can find the answers you are looking for.
 

NomadicMedic

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What kind of constructive comments do you want?

You told us that you have anxiety issues. We all, to a one, replied that EMS may not be the job for you.

You didn't like that answer, so now it's "well, you're all negative".

So, go get certified. Or dont. Nobody is going to hold your hand and lead you down the street to sign up for EMT class.

I think you'll find that a job as an EMT is less about life and death and more about "taxi and lunch".

You either deal with it... Or you don't. But, don't ask for advice and then stomp your feet when you don't like what you hear.
 
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Mariemt

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I have even stated I dealt with gad and depression at some point and was completely ignored.

Whatever, get your EMT but for your patients best interest, don't use it. 99% of our job isn't death and dying, but you will encounter it at some point. When you do, I hope you don't freeze up. Or go off the deep end.
 

EisforEffort

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Here,s my perspective: I've been an EMT now for almost 2 years. Although I don't have as many years as some, I can say that you don't see the gross stuff and the dying as often as you think. When you get to a scene that has potential to be the bad stuff, I immediately go to another level of consciousness. I call it E dimension (E standing for EMT, you get where I'm going with that).

There are going to be calls that stick with you. There are going to be days or nights you can't sleep or you dream about weird stuff. But you have to remember to leave the calls on the truck. Talk to people about the call. Particularly people in the business such as coworkers or ER nurses, doctors, whatever.

It's a really awesome job and you will get to do some really amazing things! Some good things include bringing life into the world (although babies are cool they are messy and leave a nice clean up job afterwards), bringing someone back to life, diabetic calls that require jesus juice (D50) where you can see the patient actually change their mental status, giving hope and advice to patients and family members, and just being there to hug someone who needs it! (I'm the queen of that)

People die everyday. You won't save them all. But like most paramedics I've worked with will tell you, when it comes to your family during an emergency, somehow their skills go out the door and emotion takes over. We are human. EMS humans are super humans in my opinion. Not just for the job but how we can turn on and off our emotions for the sake of someones life. (that was really deep.)
 

Melclin

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I don't think you're going to get a lot of joy out of a few quick responses on a forum.

The fact that you have a mental illness doesn't, in itself, preclude you from EMS. However, your particular experience of that illness, its severity, the way it manifests and your stability may do so.

A lot about your posts suggests to me that you may not be well enough, stable enough or have enough insight to be seriously looking into the field. You asked for opinions from people on an internet forum and you've received them. But I'd say take it all with a grain of salt. Nobody here can really understand whether or not you are appropriate for the job. We've got nothing to go on but a few lines of text. It is probably more a matter for you, people who know you better and whoever manages you GAD/depression.
 

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