PTSD: First responders find themselves into Daniel artworks

PTSD is a serious condition of mental injury that hits first responders, in particular. The intense stress of working in emergency and seeing people dying many times brings you to mental disease.

Many first responders have not the courage of speaking of this mental disease, others have no words to describe it. It is an untouchable disease, but still, it is there. It hides in our mind and grows within there, making us sick, sooner or later.

Last week we got in touch with Daniel, paramedic and firefighter, who creates incredible pictures of EMS scenarios which mirror the delicate situations that first responders live every day.

“Drawing is a form of therapy for myself – explains Daniel –  and I still continue to do that for this purpose. I use artworks to process and convey the experience I had as paramedic and firefighter. The intense stress of the job caused me a series of disease like PTSD and I’d like to use these artworks to treat it. then I’m lucky in seeing that all colleague all around the world understand them and find themselves inside them. I was able to create a connection.”

PTSD: the scariest monster of them all

“I had that myself. The artworks were and still are my treatment. I create the images according to what people going to experience and based on my own experiences. And the way that the process works for me make me elaborate an emotion or more emotions that convey into an image that would represent that topic. The idea is to create a connection through an image that for me represents that topic. The motivation is personal and it mirrors the true mental injury from being a first responder.

It’s very common developing PTSD from a singular event, but for me, it was not like that. I showed up this mental injury after years and years of distress. It gradually came on. It was not a phenomenon that arrived suddenly. I think that I already suffered from it much time before the diagnosis.”

You realize many pictures of demons and souls. What is their meaning in EMS?

“People interpret them differently, and it’s ok because anyone is free to see what they prefer. However, for me, I use angels to represent recovery or treatment and I use demons to represent trauma and stigma (mental injury). It’s not a matter of religion, I just want to create images that can be easily understandable by people. The spirits are most of the times, the patients that I’ve had and their families. Anyway, its good to see that other people look at my works and interpret them according to their experiences.”

Torn: PTSD makes you feel like you don’t care

“With the picture ‘Torn” I wished to communicate a few things. The face of the paramedic at the centre communicates that he doesn’t really care anymore of what is happening to him and around him. He’s so exhausted and so defeated of what he saw and what he experienced that he can’t stand it anymore. He’s lost.

At the right, there are his colleagues and other first responders who are trying to save him from his conditions (him mental condition, ndr) but he does not really care of being saved or not. On the left side, there are anguish, fear, shame which are represented in one demon who wants to tear the paramedic apart. The other ones, i.e. another paramedic, a nurse a firefighter and a police officer are all in this together, and they communicate that we have to help each other. Save each other. I made it when shooting in Las Vegas occurred, so I noticed that many first responders are tied to this image.”

What reaction do you wish to rise in first responders and people who see your pictures?

“I get many emails from first responders from all around the world that tell me what my pictures mean for them personally. They feel a sense of thanks because when they look at my artworks, they understand they’re not alone in their feeling. From what I’ve heard, these artworks transmit a sort of healing. I feel useful, in a certain sense because I never anticipated that my pierce could mean so much for first responders with my same mental injury. The thing that I wish to communicate, mainly is: you are not alone. I wish that other first responders can fee a sense of belonging towards my artworks because I managed to visualize and illustrate complex emotions.”