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PTSD: A Spouse’s Role

PTSD: A Spouse’s Role

Tom Kenney

Prior to my being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) a few years ago, I felt this affliction was one which only affected weak individuals. I believed it was a sign of fragility. I was wrong.

During a night shift about two years ago, I was transported to the ER from the station suffering shortness of breath, chest pains, numbness, and anxiety. Classic signs of a heart attack – or an anxiety attack. I had experienced these symptoms in the past, but I had always seemed to weather the storm and slip back into my normal routine. This time was different.

I was convinced I was having a heart attack and allowed myself to be transported to the ER. After three days of tests at Miriam Hospital I was released and told by the doctors that they had found no coronary problems. They said it was probably a stress related occurrence. During that hospital stay, no one from HQ’s of the Providence Fire Department so much as inquired about my condition, but that’s a different story for a different time.

I was later referred to a psychological counselor by a member of the Local 799’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP). I was extremely reluctant to keep the appointment – feeling that by reaching out for psychological help I was weak, or crazy.

It was my wife, Nancy, who finally convinced me to give it a try. Women always seem to have a better attitude about asking for assistance. Men always seem to believe that they can manage just fine, without any help from anyone. Men, listen to your woman.