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Thought Spot

TRIGGERS

Posted on September 16, 2016 at 8:45 AM


~By Teddy M.


On this day, 15 years after the terrorist attacks on September 11, I face an almost overwhelming weight of thoughts, memories and emotions. As a firefighter at the time I remember the horror of watching the World Trade Center towers collapse, and being familiar with firefighting tactics, I knew there were hundreds of firefighters still in those buildings. As it turned out there were 343, and I still feel that pain.


As a military member at that time, sitting in the command room of my military unit we watched the news reports that morning. With the growing realization that the events we were watching were a result of an attack by enemies of my country, I felt a profound sense of failure; a shared failure to protect my citizens from attack by “all enemies foreign and domestic” as I’d sworn to do. I still feel that failure. As I flew on a military aircraft that night transporting rescue teams to New York I remember feeling that I was a small part of an effort to rectify that failure. When I deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan I remember feeling that I was attempting a small amount of atonement for that failure.


This time of year is a time of triggers for me. Everywhere I turn are reminders of the horrors I witnessed, and the damage, the death and the horrors I helped to create; I am reminded of the people. I am reminded of the men and women I watched return home in boxes. I am reminded of people like my friend Ricky who, unable to cope with their overwhelming emotions, decided to end their lives.


Most of the time the techniques I’ve learned to stay ahead of my symptoms, to stay ahead of the depression, work pretty well. But this time of year is a time of triggers for me and I know that although I will get through it, I also know this is a time of nightmares and sleepless nights.

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