Sam van Born – RESILIENT A.F.: Stories of Resilience


During unprecedented challenges over the last three years as a first responder, I faced PTSD. This journey intersected my passion for natural health products and helped me advocate for wellness and recovery. It was my personal mission to heal.

Being a frontline worker in the fire service during the pandemic, my mental health was tested to the max, and I realized it was time for me to take a knee and focus on myself. 

I was drowning. 

Twenty-four years of being in a brother and sisterhood of “I’ve got your back” and the feeling of you’ll always be taken care of was broken. It was during the height of the pandemic. It was when I, and everyone in the world, were tested to their max. We were unsure of what we were dealing with, and the fear was starting to build: what was right, what wasn’t? What was the best way to keep ourselves safe? Everything was heightened; every little thing was under a microscope, creating challenges within our culture. 

The calls got longer and more frequent, and we could not help in ways that seemed simpler before. It was starting to fracture. The calls that may not have been so bothersome started to stick. And it wasn’t until that very support system personally challenged me and I had to take a knee. I had hit my max. I couldn’t drive by certain locations, constantly thinking about the outcomes of certain calls, people who had passed, how it would affect their families, kids, etc. 

Why, how, nothing was making a difference. The whole world was sad, and I couldn’t trust anyone anymore and felt completely alone. 

I walked away, nine months to be exact. And it took me some time to start feeling like myself again. I reached out for support, and even that took time to fall into place. Every step took so much time and patience that I truly could relate to why some give up. 

The diagnosis of PTSD was ultimately the outcome, and I found a great counselor to help me navigate what I was feeling and experiencing. Multiple traumas can be quite a muddy mess to wade through. But it was time for me to put myself first for myself and my daughter. 

I had meetings twice a week and sometimes took my day minute by minute. I started walking; I needed that connection with other people. I needed the validation that I wasn’t alone. Seeing people at their worst and only being able to help for a short while, not knowing the outcome of most calls, nothing ever seemed final in the sense of us as not knowing the outcome of most calls. How were the people doing that we helped? 

So, I started focusing on my business. It was another way for me to continue to help people, another way for me to make a difference. Naturopathically formulated health products, yes!! Seeing a change in people’s health, reducing inflammation, improving gut health, weight management, and good clean energy. It was making a difference. With good nutrition in my body, I started to feel better. When I was out walking and making eye contact with others, seeing them acknowledge and smile back were the simple things that started adding back to my cup. 

Being able to give back and help others, in turn, was also helping me heal. I have been back to work now for almost two years. I am closer to retirement now, and I am excited to see where my business will continue to grow. 

How can I continue to help others get into a better place? I will continue to help & support others because I know if you don’t take care of your health (both physical & mental), you have nothing. Starting by putting great nutrition into your body will help shift you into a better mindset. Health maintenance vs digging yourself out of a health crisis is the way things are shifting. I’d love to help you get to a good place; let’s talk. Don’t get to a place where you feel alone and too overwhelmed. I’m here to help. 

“The best investment you’ll ever make is in your own health.” 

I think people also need to understand that PTSD doesn’t just affect first responders; everyday people can also be affected by trauma. It doesn’t have to be a big traumatic event. Anyone can experience trauma. It’s a distressing event and the inability to cope. It affects everyone in different ways.

To practice resilience, I connect, whether it’s with friends, family, or my daughter, or I see how I can work on my business to help others!! I go out and walk daily, rain or shine..or snow!! I focus on putting great nutrition into my body, getting enough water, and getting a good night’s sleep. Routine is extremely helpful. I continue to lean into the essence of my business, wellness and also respecting my mind & body’s limits and needs during recovery. 

You are not alone. Advocate fiercely for your own healing. Embrace being vulnerable and foster connections; you will be surprised how empowering and healing it is to share your story.

Are you ready to share your story of RESILIENCE? You can do that HERE.