Updated: Feb 2
Job-related trauma can take an emotional toll. When this happens, you know that something is off — you feel numb and disconnected from your crew and family. You hope that if you wait long enough, the feelings will pass. Once you realize that things aren’t getting better, you worry about telling others. You don’t know what to do. You suffer in silence.
I hope this message is shared with all firefighters. For too long, firefighters have buried their emotions, their pain, and the traumas they've experienced during their careers. But they can’t hide from it. They need help. As a fireWife, help them take care of themselves physically and mentally.
First, what they're feeling will never go away but it will get easier. Now that you know that, don’t wait to encourage them to seek help. There is NO SHAME in asking for help and you will not survive this alone.
1. Look for—but don’t limit yourself to—counselors with firefighting backgrounds. Open the door and start the process (take that first step) and then let them help you find someone who fits your treatment needs.
2. Don’t be afraid of medications. The right ones, at the right dosage, can help.Don’t be alone. By that I mean “by yourself”.
3. As hard as it is, try to stay around people, it’s much harder to cope when your alone and way too easy to make the wrong (or poor) decisions. Keep yourself busy. Find or make some kind of routine and stick to it … make yourself do it… ANYTHING other than sitting alone.
4. Stay away from the drinking. We all know alcohol is a depressant and only deepens and adds to the depression you’re already suffering through. You CANNOT drink enough to make it go away. When you wake up, you’ll be right back in that place you were trying to escape from.
5. Don’t lie. To yourself or those worried or asking about you. If you’re not “alright” say so.Know that it’s ok to cry … to show emotion … even if it’s at the station. WE’RE HUMAN.
6. Don’t think that you don’t have options because YOU DO.TALK. Talk to your family and friends. Hiding or not sharing your feelings or story with them hurts more than telling them the truth no matter how bad it may be.
Learn the signs of stress, depression and PTSD. Look for them in your brothers and sisters. If you see it, ACT ON IT. Marital problems, financial issues, health concerns, the death of a family member, job related incidents etc., are just a few examples that can trigger stress and depression.Don’t pass on a presentation on mental health and wellness for some type of H.O.T (Hands on Training) class. Our mental health and wellness should be THE TOP PRIORITY for the fire service and until it is nationwide, MAKE IT YOURS!
What would you add to this list?