Me and my relationship with Post Traumatic Stress

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on this topic. I just returned to the forum after yet another failure at staying sober and figured it was time to tell everyone about me. I’m terrified this time may be the one that broke my marriage…only time will tell.

My wife sees a habitual drunk. She knows after the 2nd beer that there will be 12 beers to follow. Her anxiety is only exacerbated by this fact and creates an “unpleasant” drinking environment for this drunk. I, in turn, lash out and say things and speak to her in ways that I should not. Asshole #1 right here.

Alcohol is a bandaid for me. If it wasn’t alcohol, it would be something else. I self medicate because I cannot effectively cope with my life.

I am in public safety…I have been a cop for 23 years and was a paramedic before that. I took stock of my life this am and realized that in the last year I have dealt with 5 extremely gruesome deaths. In the recent past, I could recall at least 15 others, ranging from violent deaths to suicides by every means imaginable. Some of the scenes I have worked have left lasting trauma on my psyche. People burned alive, decapitated, missing limbs, killed by gun violence. These tragedies leave a mark. When I was a paramedic, I was unable to save everyone…this came as a massive disappointment to someone who always “has a grasp” on things. The deaths I have been unable to prevent range from violent shootings and traffic collisions, to infants that I held in my arms while administering CPR. I keep failing at sobriety because I keep failing at dealing with my mental trauma. We compartmentalize our pain to protect ourselves and others and in the process do more harm than good to those whom we hold most dear.

My name is Chris. I am a Law Enforcement Officer and I suffer from unseen wounds. I self medicate with booze; I am an alcoholic.

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Have you tried AA? It helped me deal with emotions.

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I have just recently. I went to a meeting a couple weeks ago. I’m reading some 12 step books right now.

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Thank you for sharing this refreshingly honest post. I imagine most addicts ( along with most people on their own terms ) suffer from some level of PTSD. I know it true for myself, at least. This said, you have experienced many highly traumatic scenarios and I empathize with you trying to find ways to cope. I really have no advice, as I am still finding what works myself. But I commend your vulnerability and think that is an excellent place to start.

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I was really really lost with my emotions…and usually my solution to the negative ones was to drink…truly it did take away the hurt, sadness, despair, anxiety, horror, panic, anger, hate…you name it…I drank to numb that…it worked…for that little tiny moment…but the emotions didn’t vanish in the air…in the morning they would come back with a vengeance…they brought reinforcements, shame, regret, remorse, self-loathing…etc…had to drink again to drown those as well…and the cycle went on…and not a single emotion was ever dealt with…never got peace on a single hurt or loss of life etc. Only by facing the emotions sober have I gotten my ability to feel properly back. And no matter what the emotion is. We get through them. And learn from them and grow stronger. But only by facing them.
AA program is amazing. It’s designed to help us find peace within ourselves. I have found that, so can you. You sir are awesome, keep working on it.

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Chris, I self medicated with booze for years. I still fight depreasion, nightmares, and all the fun that comes with it. When I stopped drinking, i started to heal. It was an emotional roller coaster, and it scared the hell out of me…but the healing process started and and continues. I made it to AA on the 17th anniversary of the worst day of my military career. Did puppy dogs and rainbows shoot out my ass…no. I cried…and cried…and spent the meeting with people that knew what I was going thru. It gets easier everyday. The further I get from the bottom of the bottle, the easier it is to deal with my emotions.

First reaponders carry society’s weight on their shoulders. Time to get some help carrying that load.

Praying for you.

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I have felt every one of those emotions you speak of. I know my path hasn’t been working, and I’m thankful for the kind souls who share their own stories here. Thank you for that. :pray:t2:

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Thank you so much for that. I appreciate the ability to relate more than you can imagine.

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Thank you I’m going to schedule a visit with my therapist this week…I missed one last week because I was drinking :pensive:

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No advice needed, sometimes just having someone with an open heart to listen helps. Thank you for taking the time to read my post.

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I’ve found that the best people to talk to are those who have been down the path. Counselors, therapists, other Doctors and well meaning good samaritans who havent been through similiar experiences can only listen. Maybe sometimes thats enough, but when its not where do we turn… usually inward and for many, self medicating like you said. I’m very familiar with that type of therapy. I also understand all to well the effects it has on a marriage, growing up in that environment (parents) and my own marriage, has suffered due to ill timed binges and ill timed attempts at, lets say, corrective actions and accusations by people other than ourselves.
For now I gotta go, I gotta go do the honey do items, if you like we can continue this whenever. As i said I am well versed in PTSD, trauma and marital fluctuations (as I call them). This year will mark the 18th anniversary of 9/11. A day that has infinitely changed my life. Be well Chris. Sincerely, Chris

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Thank you Chris - I will take you up on that.

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Seriously bro, do that…

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Hey Chris. Thanks for sharing your story. I can’t imagine having to deal with any of the things you do and 23 years worth of them.

You haven’t given up and are trying new things. I have confidence that you’ll beat this demon.

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Thank you Jason. I appreciate the encouragement. :pray:t2:

No one who has been going through what you have been going through will be able to fully understand what you are going through now. But i hope and pray for you that you get the help you need and deserve. Stay strong

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First, Chris, thank you so much for your bravery, your service & your protection! Extraordinary career you’ve had. I can’t even begin to imagine the enormous toll it would take on your life, your drinking, your mental health & your marriage.

Second, you’ll find every single answer you’re looking for (and the answers to things you haven’t even dreamt yet)… in long-term sobriety.

Not sure, but you may be missing out on the best part. It comes after putting the alcohol down. Joining AA helped me see the world differently, the people in it & my responsibilities. The very basis of the program is making peace with oneself, creating a new mindset & maintaining it on daily basis.

I have no doubt, you’ve witnessed the worst humanity has to offer. People can be ugly, dark & scary. You’ve seen, heard & smelled horrific things you can’t forget… But, you’ve also had a front row seat & got to witness the very best! People can also be beautiful, brave and selfless under extraordinary circumstances. Thats the good stuff to remember. Those are the moments that make the job worth it. The more you notice them, the more you’ll see them. Perspective is key.

No one else can, or will do this for you, Chris. Alcoholism cannot be ignored. PTSD, marriage & job issues could get worse. Start by tackling the biggest beast that colors every area of your life. Alcoholism. Make 2019 your year. You owe it to yourself. You’ve spent your entire life bravely running toward danger to help others… show yourself that same level of speed & bravery now :heart:

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Hi Chris -

Thank you for your bravery - in your profession and in sharing your story.

I am not a law enforcement officer, but my profession is one that deals often with crisis and trauma. I didn’t realize for quite some time how that exposure had impacted me - and how I tried to numb those responses with alcohol.

I wish I had gotten more help for PTSD. I have only recently started to deal with issues I tried to bury years ago. The addition of alcohol just about took me to a place where I wanted out of this life. What I will say, though, is that at 10 1/2 months sober, my depression and anxiety are the most manageable of my adult life. I feel much more at peace than I have in years.

Just know that you do not have to do this alone. Would you feel comfortable seeking help through employee assistance? I’m betting they would be able to connect you with a therapist specializing in addiction and/or PTSD. The two so often go hand in hand.

For me, AA is a huge help. I know several folks in the program who are law enforcement officers or other first responders. Several others work in crisis heavy fields. Folks in the rooms get it - and you might find the support that you need on a daily basis.

Again, thank you for sharing your story. Please stick around and let us know how you are doing.

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Thank u - the good stuff far outweighs the bad for sure… I don’t think I would have done anything different with my life, even if the opportunity presented itself. This career has taken a toll though and I need to refocus my efforts on finding peace through healthy outlets. These weren’t things we spoke about 20 years ago…only recently have public safety personnel started to acknowledge the rampant PTS and suicides within our ranks.

Running is my therapy and meditation, but hip flexor issues have been impairing my abilities which leaves me feeling down. Working on this literally one day at a time. Thank you for your reply.

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I’m glad you are seeking help for your own buried issues. It didn’t occur to me until last year at around this time when I started occasionally seeing a therapist, how deeply rooted some of the trauma from my years as a paramedic had become. They also started to surface after some very recent traumatic calls which I think triggered those old covered up wounds. I noticed every time I was really intoxicated, those memories and perceived failures in lifesaving would surface. I was no longer a “fun drunk” to be around. Nobody except a paid therapist wants to sit and listen to you cry your eyes out over an event which occurred two decades in the past…especially when you bring it up every time you get drunk. I can relate to the improvement in depression and anxiety from my 100 days of sobriety last year…the longest period in my adult life. I’m looking forward to having that weight lifted again.

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