The years of trauma, negative experience and unhealthy habits had caught up with me - not only physically but mentally, too. I found myself tumbling down the runway with nowhere to go but rock bottom.
What did this look like, exactly? Picture a young and terrified First Responder sitting in his room for days and days, calling off every shift and forgetting what it was like to laugh or find happiness, and you’ll gain some understanding of what I was going through.
Thankfully (I can say thankfully now – hindsight is a wonderful thing!) I had already been there in my youth and knew I didn't want to end up back there.
Time for help
So, I made the difficult decision that it was time to reach out for help. It’s never an easy thing to do, but on realizing that I wasn't getting out of this alone, there was nothing else for me to do.
Fast-forward some time and I had seen six different counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists.
Why so many, you may ask?
Firstly, I had no idea there were so many different types of experts out there specializing in different areas and secondly, I refused to accept the diagnosis I kept receiving.
I finally found the right fit for me, personally – a counsellor who specialized in trauma and a psychiatrist who was prior military before starting his own practice.
They did a great job in gaining my trust enough so that I felt comfortable to really open up – without feeling belittled after each session.
As such, I was finally able to accept their diagnosis of PTSD. In doing so, it also allowed me to hear their recommendations on how to begin the healing process.
You can imagine my relief – and surprise - when they almost bypassed medications altogether (one of the main reasons I hadn’t wanted to go down this path in the first place!). Instead, the main advice centered around my lifestyle.
“Where do you find yourself organically happy and at peace”, was one of the questions they asked. Without hesitation I replied, “In the mountains.”
"What kinds of things were you doing in your life while you were active in the mountains?”, they continued.
“Working out on a regular basis, meal prepping and staying active overall”, I responded.
And so, they told me to get back to that routine – the type of pill I could most definitely swallow!
For the first time in a long time, I was excited about something again. I had something to look forward to, something to set goals for.
So, within just a couple of days, I found myself following a strict meal guide (which I’m happy to share with anyone who might want it?), signed up to a gym membership, planning out some hikes in the PNW and researching some supplements to start taking. (This was the very beginning of Thinline Anthem - stay tuned for a future blog to learn more about that journey!)
Be under no illusion - healing did NOT happen overnight. There were still plenty of ups and downs along the way, but slowly, slowly, I started to find hope, joy and the real me again – with the help of re-awakened relationships that I had put to sleep for quite some time
Why am I here telling this story?
Well, if you follow social media or watch the news, you can hear the cry for help throughout our nation’s finest, in all branches of First Responders and Public Safety.
Although I cannot help each and every First Responder that is at the point of tapping out, I can share my story in hopes of encouraging those going through hell, wondering what to do or where to start.
There is hope.
You are NOT alone.
So many of us current and prior First Responders have gone through our own hell, but - with help - have staved off the demons.
Is every situation regarding mental health (depression, PTSD and anxiety) the same?
No, not even close!
But there are people out there who have experienced their own hell that want to be there for you!
They are waiting for you to rise up from the rubble and stretch out your hand to be lifted up and brushed off – without an ounce of judgement.
We are so lucky to have partnered up with not one but two incredible Non Profit Organizations (Next Rung & Blue H.E.L.P.), made up of like-minded individuals who really understand what you’re going through, ready and waiting to help you!
You have so much to look forward to in life, people who love you, brothers and sisters that need you around!
Do yourself a solid, something that you will thank yourself for down the road.
Pick up the phone or switch on the computer. Reach out, be strong and ask for help!
And to those who are reading this that are not struggling, I have a question for you, too:
When was the last time you reached out to a family member, co-worker or friend to sincerely ask how they are doing?
I mean really ask. Go for a coffee, embark on a hike together, really listen and really care.
Ask yourself, “Who can I reach out to today?”
The THIN Line is a small yet mighty percent of the population - a family that is, at times, closer than blood.
It’s TIME for the Thin Line Family to stick together to start making positive changes.
Love you all.
Founder Thinline Anthem