Portraits of medics with PTSD featured in art show

The show raises awareness about mental health issues in Canadian EMS providers and gives them an opportunity to reflect on their experiences

CALGARY, Alberta — An art exhibit featuring portraits of first responders struggling with PTSD and other mental health issues that stem from the job is on display at the University of Calgary.

Created by EMT and artist Teresa Coulter, the “Sock Drawer Stories” exhibit contains 12 portraits of paramedics “suffering symptoms similar to what I suffered, and they are going to tell me their stories … ” Coulter told Global News

Coulter said she lives with PTSD.

“Sometimes when you sit with this injury, you have to surrender,” Coulter said. “Surrender to the not knowing, and not understanding, but being okay with it.”

Paramedic Jim Matheson, who began his EMS career in 1978, has a portrait featured in the exhibit. He said reflecting on his experience for the art show has been powerful, and it’s allowed him to open up and “give people a chance to see what we went through.”

“We look at these people and see the look of anguish, despair, sadness,” Matheson said. “When I look at my portrait, I think it looks like a tormented soul, but there’s a glimmer of hope saying: I was there, I contributed; I made a difference.”

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