How I “Got” PTSD

By: Nathalie Michaud, Fire Prevention Officer and PTSD Suffer/Survivor

I was recently asked how “I got” PTSD.”Post-traumatic stress in firefighters

This was my reply:

I got a need to help the underdog, started young with animals;
I got a need to heal and accept those the way I wish I had;
I got a talent to rescue and rehabilitate dogs.

I got gently pushed in Emergency services;
I got an opportunity for an amazing career;
I got a Brotherhood;
I got educated and worked my ass off;
I got tools to do my duties.

I got passionate;

I got my hopes up that my life was more than just “being”;
I got a dream I’d make a difference.

I got propelled into the dark world no one talks about;
I got to see the hidden images the media keeps from you;
I got imprinted with what I wish I could “unsee”;
I got to be a witness to events that you gasp, cry and look away.

I got to promise a parent their child would be safe with me, and I failed;firefighter job expectations
I got to watch the life fade away from someone’s eyes;
I got to hear things and screams that the media keeps from you;
I got imprinted with frequencies no one should hear.

I got to feel the pain of someone holding my hand so tight, begging me not to leave them;
I got no opportunity to shut the news off… I was there;
I got into situations where I played “God.”

I got bullied;
I got harassed and assaulted;
I got pushed and rejected;
I got silenced.

I got eaten up inside;
I got my faith in humanity broken;
I got to be the wife of a fire chief who committed suicide;
I got to keep all that.

I got to carry that;
I got to become a nameless face behind a uniform;
I got tired.

One thing makes us different…

I “got” trained to do what is needed to save lives.Post traumatic stress disorder

I didn’t “get” PTSD.

I had to do my job in situations where you cry just hearing about the “how horrible it must have been.”

I’m healing and adapting from PTSD.

My human side just got tired. That’s all.

More Posts from Nathalie Michaud

Realizing You Won’t Win the PTSD “War” Brings Peace

Catching Up with a PTSD Sufferer and Survivor

A Firefighter’s Struggle with PTSD

PTSD: My New “Friend”

About the Author

Nathalie Michaud is a PTSD Sufferer and Survivor. Nathalie served for more than 15 years in a variety of Emergency Services roles including EMS Paramedic, Firefighter, Fire Prevention Technician and Fire Investigator in the province of Quebec, Canada. She’s currently a Fire Prevention Technician with the Brome Lake Fire Department in Knowlton, Quebec.

Nathalie has served for three years on the Board of Directors for the Canadian Volunteer Fire Services Association and was recently elected to the Board of Directors for FQISI (Quebec Federation of Emergency Responders).

She makes her home in Brome Lake where she continues her journey living with PTSD…every day


About Robert Avsec, Executive Fire Officer

Battalion Chief (Ret.) Robert Avsec served with the men and women of the Chesterfield County (VA) Fire and EMS Department for 26 years. He’s now using his acquired knowledge, skills, and experiences as a freelance writer for and as the “blogger in chief” for this blog. Chief Avsec and his wife of 30+ years now make their home in Cross Lanes, WV. Contact him via e-mail,