Life Advice



Ask Amy: Retired first responder needs comfort, now

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I am a retired fireman. I spent my career solving problems and not thinking about the underlying stress I was experiencing.

I just did what needed to be done.

I recently had a parent die (not unexpectedly), but then my best friend died as well.

I am not afraid to say it has taken its toll on me. I’ve felt withdrawn and depressed — not to the point of self-harm at all, but I just feel down and grumpy, starting from the moment I open my eyes in the morning.

I can’t find any enjoyment in anything I do and do not want to continue having it affect my family. I know they understand that I’m in a crappy mood — and the reasons for it — but it’s not fair to them.

The bottom line is I want to enjoy life and laugh again, before I get too old to do it.


– Really Sad

Dear Sad: You deserve much credit for putting all of this together and for describing your symptoms, along with your stated goal to feel better in the future.

As a first responder, you experienced high stress on the job, including physical danger and trauma, as well as sleep deprivation. You were an occasional witness to intense human suffering.

Now you are using your training and insight to triage your mental health and response to these very tough losses.


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