Many people who struggle mentally or with an addiction are reluctant to come forward. They do not want to be perceived as weak and unable to cope with the challenges in their life.
As a retired First Responder, I can attest to the reluctance of coming forward. My ego and my fear were at play before I reached out for help. I was afraid of what my former peers, friends, and family would think of me: A former Army Paratrooper and Law Enforcement veteran was now asking for help.
I was ashamed and consequently hid my depression, anxiety and fear the best I could; but it always found a way to reveal itself.
My First Step to Healing
Only when I was at my darkest point and wanted to take my own life did I finally give in, put my ego and fear aside, and make a call to FHE Health and Shatterproof for First Responders. That was the beginning of my journey of healing, a journey that I’m continually on.
After I reached out for help and began treatment, I had friends reach out to me and say things like “You always seemed to have everything together” and “I never saw someone like you needing any kind of help.” Here is a reminder: No matter how strong you think a person may be, remember that person is dealing or struggling with something that you do not see, and everyone eventually reaches a breaking point. This is the point when that person has a choice to make.
There’s Power in Helping and Being Helped
The reality is that we all need help in our lives. Life is not a solo journey. It involves teamwork and people on your side. People who can help you get better, so you can get back to your life. And while you might not hear it as often as you might like, many people are on your side. Remember that your taking that first step and getting treatment could be someone else’s inspiration to get well. Sharing your strength with someone else in this way is powerful and even life-saving.
Mental Health Comes First
Of course, taking the first step with anything can be daunting. It helps to remember that where mental health and overall wellbeing are concerned, they take priority. I have never met anyone who reached out for help and regretted doing so. Who would regret they helped save their own life?
Are you ready to take that step?
Patrick Fitzgibbons is a former Army paratrooper and member of Law Enforcement. In the role of National Outreach Liaison for FHE Health, he serves as a treatment resource to first responder families and is a recognized author, speaker, and influencer on addiction and mental health issues. Patrick is an alumnus of FHE’s treatment program for first responders (“Shatterproof”), so is able to speak with firsthand experience about the specialized treatment needs of this population.