I recently had the honour of speaking in Humboldt, Saskatchewan. For almost every Canadian, just the name of this little hockey town comes with an understanding of the heartbreak that happened just up the road in April 2018, A bus crash involving a team of young, promising men and their coaching staff left 16 dead and 13 injured.
After speaking across this province, I was reminded of this: the trauma response stays long after the traumatic event is passed. Although anniversaries and memorials serve as reminders for those who pay their respects, the terror of that day that happened in the survivors, their families, and the first responders on scene and in receiving care facilities is still very much an active part of so many stories.
I have been thinking a lot about how we need to talk more about the difference between a stressor and a stress response, because time, in fact, does not heal all wounds. Especially if during that time, those who experienced a traumatic “wound” have not processed, addressed, or even acknowledged what it meant to be a part of something that left the body terrorized. The body does keep the score. And just because time since the stressor happened has drug on, tending to how we made sense of the experience itself is much more critical to healing than time itself. After all, you can’t address what you won’t acknowledge.
I am again reminded that there are very few resources for first responders and their families to understand the process of operational stress injuries – and that post trauma stress is NOT a mental illness. I will always keep talking about this around here – and in case it might help, I’ve created a little course for first responders and their families where I dive a little deeper. I’ve called it Hello Hero and you can find it here: https://drjodycarrington.teachable.com/p/hello-hero1