Over the next few days, most, if not all of us, will start reflecting on the last year, which turns into years. For me, this year means seeing a list of failures and loss in some areas, and gains in others.
The negative for the year is, of course, easy to see. First, I didn’t get my medical retirement status finalized. I can’t get my disability status made permanent because they are busy fighting with Public Employees Retirement System (PERS), my former agency is contesting everything to be just more of themselves. Recently, my service dog had to be put down and the process of finding a new one is less than easy or quick.
On the flip side of that, I have met some good people in the last year. I’ve lasted a year in a new state, met some people who understand me, found a couple of great doctors to create as a care team. So, all in all, I really should call this year a draw….not great, but not bad. Then the head starts spinning on not only the negative things from this year, but to mistakes of the past:
- Because of my medical status and PTSD I had to give up my career goals
- Because of my medical status and PTSD my financial goals are beyond not met and probably never will be now
- Because of my medical status and PTSD it is doubtful that I will meet my family’s wants and desires
- Because of my medical status and PTSD I spend 80 minutes driving 60 miles roundtrip twice a week for doctor’s appointments
The list could go on and on and it triggers a variety of emotions, thoughts, images, and memories. We start to dwell on what we should have done differently, how we got to where we are now, the guilt kicks in, and we often wonder if we’re worth it or if it is our fault entirely.
We have to reach deep within ourselves to find the strength to go on one day at a time, one hour at a time, and sometimes, one minute at a time. Next comes accepting that not only is it okay to not be okay sometimes, but sometimes we need to not be okay to move beyond where we are.
That is the moment our New Year starts. When we become open to the positive, learning new ways to deal with our past, accepting our present, and starting to look forward to the future again. It is not an easy process, it often takes professional help, but we are worth it.
New Year’s Eve often means the pressure to go out, go to parties, and be social. Let it be okay to take it easy, take care of yourself, avoid negative coping mechanisms (i.e., drinking, over-medicating, avoiding doctor’s appointments, avoiding others who are good for you), reach out for help if you need it. Keep in the back of your mind….as much as it sucks or hurts at the moment, IT IS OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY FOR TODAY.
About the Author: Bubba, an administrator on the Facebook page, Surviving the Shield, started dispatching when she was 19 and has over ten years of experience working in a busy metropolitan area. She has now moved on to advocating for law enforcement officers and other emergency responders impacted by PTSD, and fundraising for agencies with special funding needs across the country. She holds a B.A. in Criminal Justice and a M.S. in Emergency Service Administration.