By Mallory Gruben, Lewiston Tribune:
After nearly 15 years of responding to traumatic calls as a firefighter and paramedic in Cowlitz County, Stacie Poff noticed she would sometimes feel angry and agitated at nothing in particular. At home, the activities that used to bring her joy did little to lighten her mood, she said.
Those were the first symptoms of the post traumatic stress disorder she developed on the job, said Poff, who works with Cowlitz County Fire District 6 in Castle Rock.
“I was anxious, and I lost my confidence in the field. I know a lot of my closest peers and family members noticed it the most,” Poff said of her initial PTSD symptoms in 2015. “I did a lot of second-guessing, and I just wasn’t comfortable in my own skin anymore.”
With the help of her husband, Poff sought counseling and treatment. Today she said she’s “doing well” managing her triggers and symptoms — and her “lengthy battle” with PTSD has inspired her to help others.
Poff and her Cowlitz 6 colleagues have launched a campaign to shed light on the mental health problems first responders face and encourage them to seek help when they need it. The department is wearing specially designed T-shirts in June for PTSD Awareness Month. The campaign even is catching on nationally.
Read the full story here.