Our Story

"I no longer feared the darkness once I knew the phoenix in me would rise from the ashes." - William C. Hannan

 Soap saved my life.

I am a paramedic. In other words, I am the one who comes when you can’t breathe, when you can’t move, and when you can feel the very essence of life escaping. I am the one who comes when the miracle of resurrection is expected by those who cherish you the most. I am the one who comes when you’re all out of options.

Due to unfortunate circumstances, I was introduced to paramedicine at the tender age of six. This introduction would become the basis of my insatiable desire to become a paramedic, whom I perceived as Gods. I stood in awe as these men and women transformed a cold, blue, lifeless body into a warm and pink father whom, once again, embraced their child.

Paramedicine is the best drug in the world, or so I thought. It is altruistic, lucrative, and provides an adrenaline rush unmatched by any substance on earth; however, it is also frustrating, tragic, and dangerous.

I entered my career, as one does, believing I could handle the stress, trauma, and danger I would be exposed to daily. I minimized the impact of what I saw and accepted the nightmares, anxiety, depression, hypervigilance, paranoia, sleeplessness, and exhaustion I experienced. I may have been known to say, “Suck it up, buttercup,” or “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen,” when I heard others complaining. I believed I had to deny what I felt. In my mind, showing emotions, such as fear or sadness, meant I was weak.

In September 2023, after fifteen years of service, I responded to a call that put my own life and the lives of other first responders in danger. This was not the first time, the second time, or the third time my life has been in danger; It could have been the hundredth, I’ve lost count. I’ve been shot at, stabbed, punched, kicked, bit, assaulted with every solid/fluid the human body can produce, and been amid active shooter situations more times than I care to recount; But, for some reason this call was different. After that call, my paranoia, hypervigilance, and irritability escalated significantly. Two weeks after that traumatic night I found myself in the back of an ambulance, with a police escort, on my way to a psychiatric unit; Only this time, I was the patient. I was going to end my life. I was done living in a constant state of depression and anxiety. Fortunately, a loved one recognized the signs and called for help. That night I experienced firsthand the stigma associated with calling 911 for support regarding a mental health crisis. I was not met with understanding, compassion, or support from all those who responded to my loved one’s pleas for help. Unfortunately, one of the officers that attended chose persecution rather than compassion when responding to my rock bottom moment. The officer found a human being, in a mental health crisis, with concrete plans to end their life, and instead of offering compassion, he offered treatment reserved for criminals. Sadly, this only served to validate my beliefs that it was in my best interest to never seek help.

So how did soap save my life? Well, as I struggled with the feelings of suicide, shame, loss of identity, and multiple mental health diagnoses, including PTSD, I was encouraged by my family and therapy team to find hobbies. I had worked more than 60 hours a week for as long as I could remember, much to the detriment of my family and loved ones. I did not know who I was outside of paramedicine and did not know what I might enjoy doing with my involuntary free time. I say involuntary free time because, despite all that had happened, I still wanted to return to work and denied my diagnoses. A chance encounter at a Christmas market introduced me to the hobby of making hot process soap. I became intrigued and wondered if this was something I could do.

As I researched and experimented with hot process soap, the days suddenly became easier. I thought less about the horrors I had seen on the job, the atrocities I had endured at the hands of one officer, and I focused on mastering my recipes and technique. I accepted my diagnoses and committed fully to treatment. Alcohol, which once offered a refuge from the demons within, became a choice rather than a necessity. I slept more soundly and felt relaxed enough to enjoy time with my family. For the first time in years, I do not just think of myself as a paramedic. I am a partner, a father, and a man with a sense of peace.

I no longer think PTSD happens to the weak. It can happen to anyone, and the unfortunate reality is that PTSD is the prevailing hazard paramedics face on the job. I now believe those dealing with such a diagnosis are warriors. I encourage my fellow first responders to seek help and do so before hitting rock bottom.

I chose the name Phoenix Soap Company as it represents my journey of rebirth. I have a long road ahead of me as I receive treatment for PTSD, however, I have hope now that I never had before. I am rising from the ashes to live again.

To support other first responders who are facing similar struggles 10% of every purchase goes towards Canadian charities supporting first responders and their families surviving with PTSD.

Your purchase will save lives.

Thank you for helping others to rise from the ashes.