Chapter 3: When more help is needed

Coming off auto-pilot

Many paramedics find they go on “auto-pilot” to get through a difficult call, a sort of numb or detached emotional state. Sometimes, it seems as though this state is necessary to get the required tasks done. While there might be some short-term appeal to functioning on auto-pilot, the ongoing consequences of long-term disconnection and isolation can be problematic. When emotions finally surface, you may be unprepared and overwhelmed by their strength.

It may help to keep in mind that emotions are simply messages from the psyche. Pay attention to what they’re trying to tell you. For example, severe depression often indicates an accumulation of un-processed emotional material that’s creating what’s called a mood state. Waking up every morning “in a mood” (e.g. having the blues) may be a signal you need care and attention.


Reflective exercise

What are my feelings trying to tell me?