The problem with mental health issues both in the ranks of first responders, and in the civilian world, is not in the illness itself; it’s in how it’s treated. Treatment is often the same in a professional setting as it is for someone trying to deal with it on their own.
What is coping? In laymen’s terms (words that I understand), coping is just dealing with it. Coping is finding a way to live with the pain that makes it hurt less; a facade if you will, a scab over the injury.
The problem with “dealing with it” is that it doesn’t work! It doesn’t allow any room for slip ups, no margin for error. Dealing or coping only creates further problems, and often times, these problems are invisible to us until they have affected others. Issues such as anger, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse are all masked by the facade of coping; or at least we want to believe that.
In my own experience, it took me a very long time to admit I had a problem, this is because I was “getting by”. I knew I had bad thoughts, I knew I replayed the events over in my head, I knew that my own wife didn’t like sharing a bed with me because of my constant tossing and turning. But most of the time I knew that I would be able to cope.
It all came to a head after my wife and son called me out on my anger. These stories are in previous blogs so I won’t bore with details again. It was at this moment that I knew I needed more than coping. I couldn’t “deal with it” any more.
It was when I realized this that a whole world opened up. Admitting to the problem allowed me to see. I saw that many others fight the same fight that I do. From that I discovered a new way.
If we break a leg or cut our hand, we wouldn’t just cope or deal. We would get professional help and FIX the problem. We must be prepared to do the same with mental health.
Professionals are available that can and do help. Healing is not about getting by, it’s not about masking, and it’s not about denial. It’s about taking ownership of your problems and admitting you can’t do it alone. This is where true healing starts.
My blog has many resources available. Some resources are tailored to specific needs, such as family, substance abuse or a specific branch of public safety. These resources may or may not be what works for you. This is only meant to be a starting block. I myself tried 5 different doctors before I found my fit.
You can do this! You have the strength. Real work starts here! And as always, if you need a little extra push, a little motivation, or just someone to talk to…
Lets take a walk.