With Pain Comes Strength

Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever. - Lance Armstrong.

Mark Macenas ’98 has experienced his share of pain. After suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for many years, he has pushed through tough times and has created a happy, balanced life for himself.

Macenas knew he wanted to become a firefighter from the day his father took him to the local fire station. He said, “The first time my father took me to the firehouse for a visit and sat me on a fire truck, I was hooked. My plan after graduating high school was to go in the military like my father, but he convinced me to go to college first.”

After receiving his B.A. in art from Colby-Sawyer College, Macenas went on to teach a semester at New Hampshire Institute of Art. He then became a graphic designer creating legal exhibits for personal injury attorneys. Macenas finally followed his dream to become a firefighter and attended a six-month fire academy, which he admits was the toughest time of his life.

During his years of service, he continued with his passion of creating art. He said, “I would fabricate art to help with my mental health. For years in the fire service, I created art works to try and sooth my mind of the horrific memories that I could not unsee.”

Macenas served as a firefighter in Durham, N.C., for 20 years. Although he loved the job and being able to save lives in this challenging position, the toll of missing his family during events and holidays and the stress of the demanding job took a toll on him. Dealing with PTSD, Macenas turned to alcohol during his time on the squad.

After several years of dealing with pain, Macenas decided to take on the struggles of his PTSD and alcoholism and start a new chapter in his life. In 2019, he opened Carolina Hemp Company in Youngsville, N.C., which Macenas describes as an educational hemp store. Macenas has been sober for three years, has a successful business he is proud of and continues to create beautiful art.

Macenas said, “I miss helping people on the fire truck, so if I can’t help people as a firefighter any longer, I’ll help them by bringing balance into their lives through hemp.”

Be sure to check out Macenas’ artwork at https://mark-macenas.pixels.com/ and his business at https://carolinahempcompany.com/locations/north-carolina/youngsville/?ref=youngsville.