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Marvin Bethea

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I tell people, "If I hadn't gone through 9/11 and had the stroke, I don't think I would have recovered as well as I did." Where my whole mental mindset was, "If I can survive two towers falling on me, then I can beat a damn stroke."

You know, it was very hard because again, like I've said, you don't realize how much this whole 9/11 really affected us. I mean, a lot of people, everybody saw it on television, and seeing it on TV and actually being there when those buildings come down, there is absolutely no comparison. I know its two-and-a-half years later now. Some people are tired of hearing about 9/11. But its kind of hard because every day is a constant reminder of what happened, especially being here in New York. And I just look at my own medical history now. I mean, I've been declared medically disabled now and I can't work anymore.

I was having health issues cause I kept coughing a lot and my sister said, "You better get that checked," because when I first came back, that day of 9/11, they took a look at it and said, "You got chemical bronchitis." I'm like, "Yeah yeah, whatever. You just throw a name on it. " I mean, we paid it no mind. And I'm not one to complain, so I kept working. Cough really got worse and worse, and I was coughing all the time and so I went to see a lung doctor and the lung doctor says, "You have asthma."

So I spent five days in the hospital and that was the last time I worked, because I realized that, you know with everything else going on, your health is the most important thing.

It's just been very very hard, especially with my job. It's like cops are macho or whatever and guys aren't supposed to cry and, you know you're not supposed to. If you're depressed, you're not supposed to talk about it or whatever. And like, I've been encouraging everybody, especially if you were down there, that you do need to talk about it because I thought, you know, I was in denial for such a long time and I'm doing better now, I'm still not there because again, I'm very very emotional. I see something on TV or read something sad in the paper, I start crying, where that before, not that I was an uncaring person, but I never was like that before.

Some people said, "Oh, it was the stroke." Others said, "No, its this whole thing with this post-traumatic stress disorder." I mean, I was having nightmares that were really bad, I would wake up in the middle of the night, crying in a cold sweat, screaming, "We have to save the people, have to get the people out." I was tossing and turning, I wasn't sleeping well at all.

And you know, you can take a single event and you never know how you're going to react to it. You could take ten different people the same event, and get ten different reactions. And I think that's what you see and I truly feel that there's going to be a major influx of more post-traumatic stress disorder. A lot of people, I truly believe, a lot of people that were there are still in denial.

Especially the people who work in this industry. And you know, we have the type of job that you see, I could go from delivering a baby to seeing three people burning, so you go from one extreme to the other, and you always separate it. Not that you don't care, but you separate it. And like now with the post-traumatic, I'm too emotional, I can't function doing this job anymore. That, plus, and more so the asthma, now I walk up two flights of stairs carrying equipment and I'm huffing and puffing and I have to stop, whereas before, I was a great athlete. Star runner on the softball team I played on. I was a super fast. I can't do any of that anymore.

Depression, it's hard. Getting up in the morning, trying to function, trying to socialize, there's all these different forms of depression and you know its something that'll be with you, I'm in therapy now and probably will be for a few years because, you know, I feel myself getting better, but I still do have the nightmares, and again, reading the paper today or watching something sad on TV, I start crying.

Last week, I watched something on TV. It was the sad part of the show, and I started crying. Then I wound up watching the show again, and I cried the second time. So I can't say I didn't know it was coming, I knew it was coming and I still wound up crying. So I'm very emotional now and its something that, I was never like that, never like that.



Back to: The Long Recovery from 9/11