I am an EMT. We respond to patients who are anxious, suicidal. I often think to myself, ‘What if you were the psych patient?’ Well, I have been.

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“I have debated about sharing and posting this publicly {because now it is no longer anonymous}; but the urge I feel in my soul to speak up about this topic is far more important than the ‘shamefulness’ and ’embarrassment’ I often feel. Ego and pride set aside, here is the truth about mental illness.

I am an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician). I went to school to learn how to immediately respond to and treat medical emergencies. While on shift, the ambulance is my home and my partners are my family.

People dial 9-1-1 in a crisis and openly trust us to know what to do (which is truly an honor and touches my heart). We make quick decisions on the spot based off of the knowledge we have been given and instinct as to what could be going on with the patient. We are medically trained to handle various situations. Strokes, heart attacks, traumas, child births, etc.- which are all of utter importance, right? But I feel psychological medical emergencies are sometimes downplayed, and often mocked at by some medical personnel.

We respond to patients who are anxious, hearing/seeing things that aren’t there, those who are suicidal and have other struggles of which a big part of society deems as ‘crazy’.

We pick them up to ensure their safety, take them to the hospital, they are put into a gown by hospital staff to be assessed/monitored, and then we go on our way to the next call.

But I often think to myself while looking around at the medical staff, and occasionally even a partner of mine I may feel have not treated the patient with the full dignity and respect they deserved, ‘If you were the patient, do you think you would have felt cared for and important based off of how you treated them? What if you were on the other end? What if you were the psych patient?’
…Well, I have been.

‘I’m an EMT,’ I’ve told myself.
‘Part of my job is to take people to the hospital who are having a mental crisis and are put on a legal hold, then sent into a psychiatric facility…not to be the one.’ I had embedded into my brain.

I felt like my suicidal tendencies and the things I struggle with inside my head were inexcusable. That I should ‘know better’ and ‘be normal’. I almost felt like I do not deserve to have a life nor the career I do to help people if I, myself, am ‘crazy’?

Anxiety. Depression. Bipolar. ADHD. *What? Squirrel?!*
Okay, I’m back…

The point I want to show and express to the world is that mental illness, as has been said by many before, does not discriminate.
I am human. Regardless of my profession. I have problems like every other human being. I am on medication to stabilize my illnesses, just as if someone who has a heart condition would take medication to help their MEDICAL condition.

I emphasize the word ‘MEDICAL’ because I can assure you I did not choose this. I did not choose to have a chemical imbalance in my brain. It is a MEDICAL issue. There are things and tools to help, but (from my end, anyway) it doesn’t just disappear. It does linger. Some days are better than others, but I have come a long way and am battling my way through this. LIVING my way through this. I am stabilized now with the right treatment. Just because I happen to have a mental health condition(s), doesn’t mean I am worth any less than someone who does not. It doesn’t mean I am not able to function and have a life. It doesn’t mean I am any less of a person, nor any less of a kick-a** EMT.

If you struggle with any mental ailment, I want you to know…
YOU are not worth any less if you struggle with a mental health condition.
YOU deserve to be treated with dignity.
YOU matter.
YOU can be anyone you want to be.
YOU can achieve anything you want to do.

YOU are allowed to live life to the fullest and fulfill your dreams…as am I.

WE can do this.”

Deena Renee Allen

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Deena Renee Allen. Submit your story here, and subscribe to our best love stories here.

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