Many of us are unwilling to ask for help when we need it the most. If you’re fighting with addiction or mental health issues, asking for help can put you in a particularly uncomfortable and vulnerable position. Saying, “I need help,” may seem like an admission of weakness, but it isn’t. Admitting that you need help is one of the bravest things you could do.
These tips can help you find the courage you need to reach out for help, and take the first (and often, the hardest) step toward addressing your substance use or mental health disorder.
Evaluate Your Situation Honestly
It can be difficult to accurately evaluate the severity of an addiction or behavioral health problem, especially if you’re in denial about the seriousness of your struggle. You may convince yourself that you can overcome your condition on your own, or that it isn’t bad enough to warrant professional help.
Set aside some time to think about what your life has been like over the past few weeks, months and years. Addiction and mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety, can impact nearly every facet of your life. Read more about common signs and symptoms, and see if you identify with any of them. Recognizing that you need professional help makes asking for it significantly easier.
Realize That Treatment Can Help
Dealing with addiction and mental health difficulties can be an uphill battle. If you’ve been struggling for months or even years, you may not be able to remember what it’s like to feel normal. In this scenario, it can be easy to resign yourself to your condition. Seeking help after struggling for so long can be scary, too. What if treatment doesn’t work?
But your condition isn’t helpless, even if it may feel like it. Things can be better. Consider the life you could lead if you reached out for help. Your relationships with your friends and family could improve. Your work life could be better, infused with more meaning and purpose. You could even feel happier and healthier on a daily basis, both physically and mentally. If you still doubt the potential benefits of professional care, find an IAFF member who’s been in your shoes, gone through treatment and come out the other side. Hearing their story can reassure and inspire you. Maybe one day, you can do the same thing for someone else.
Face Your Fear
Asking for help can make you feel vulnerable. You may fear that people in your life will judge you. You may even believe that treatment won’t work for you. Fear stops many people from getting the help they need. But your fears don’t have to define you. As these fears and negative thoughts come to mind, challenge them. Test their weight and their worth. Recognize that there are countless fire fighters and paramedics who have been in your position. Realize that you’re not alone, and you’re not weak. You just need help, and that’s okay.
The courage you need to ask for professional help is already inside of you. When you’re ready to take the first step, the IAFF Center of Excellence is ready to take your call. A center designed by fire fighters, for fire fighters, the IAFF Center of Excellence offers care for behavioral health struggles, addiction and co-occurring disorders. Reach out to a representative today to get started.