By Jay Davies
I dedicate the last 28 days of 28 push-ups in honour & remembrance of fallen Brother Fire Fighter Qualified Brad Symes. He wore #28 with Portland when drafted by the Oilers. Also if you ever worked out with him he’d push you to do that extra set or minute. Thanks to Darren Astles for the nomination.
Everyone from every walk of life deals with mental health challenges regardless if you wear a uniform or not–however this is the world I know. MH issues are not new but we ARE new to speaking out & properly dealing with them.
It all begins with ourselves: Dealing with things before they deal with us. Much like a sandwich left in your kid’s backpack, the job is coming with you, whether you’re willing to admit it or not. It will rot you, your family & everyone around you.
For a profession that often gets to break down walls and doors we are tragically stellar at building them up, isolating ourselves from the pain until we see no other way to end the pain than ending our lives with suicide. We’re the fixers & helpers: we don’t want to burden others with our pain. We’re in control: we don’t want to let on that we’re losing control inside due to invasive dreams, flashbacks etc.
I simply couldn’t live with or let others hear or be exposed to what I was battling so I began to end it all three years ago. I thankfully stopped before it was too late.
It’s never easy but speak out. We’re lucky enough to have great systems in place through Local 209 & EFD but we MUST reach out to activate them. It begins with you.
We also must be better humans to ourselves, our Brothers & our Sisters. Every snide remark or shot we throw, whether direct or in passing, adds to the stigma & culture so that others will never feel comfortable speaking out for help.
As someone who conquered my battles with post-traumatic stress, depression & anxiety, I can assure you there are better days ahead but you must find someone to trust with your wounds. There will be critics but you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the support you’ll receive on the job. It will take much work & humbling but WE will overcome.
Rest Easy Symesy, you are ALWAYS remembered and NEVER forgotten Brother.