July 9, 2018
As with anything worth doing, beginning the recovery process can be difficult. Whether you struggle with a substance use disorder or a mental health condition, any number of barriers can prevent you from getting the treatment you need.
By identifying and understanding the beliefs, thoughts, feelings and practical concerns that stand between you and your recovery, you can take the first step toward managing your condition and living a better life.
Sometimes, it’s hard to know when your problems are significant enough to warrant professional help. As a fire fighter or paramedic, you spend so much time focusing on helping others that it can be easy to neglect your own needs, and only ask for help when your condition is dire. But the sooner you ask for help, the sooner you feel like yourself again. If you’ve noticed significant changes in your mood, relationships and work, or if you identify with any of these signs and symptoms, it might be time to seek professional help.
While recent behavioral health advocacy has helped many fire fighters and paramedics feel more comfortable seeking treatment, many still remain quiet about their conditions. Despite advances in behavioral health conditions, it can be difficult not to internalize these issues as things worthy of shame and embarrassment.
But the first step to shedding the stigma associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and related behavioral health problems is to accept that your condition is a product of the difficult work that you do day in and day out. Experts in the mental health field, including Deborah Serani, a clinical psychologist and author of the book Living with Depression, agree that conditions such as PTSD, clinical depression and addiction are caused by “a combination of neurobiology and psychological influences, not a weakness in character.”
Even after you’ve decided to begin the recovery process, it can be difficult to know where to turn for treatment. Should you find a general mental health facility, or a specialized center? If your fire department or local doesn’t have resources or a peer support program in place, finding help can be even more daunting. The IAFF Center of Excellence is here to make it easier. If you’re struggling with mental health problems, addiction or both, the IAFF Center of Excellence can help. As a facility designed by fire fighters, for fighters, treatment is tailored to the unique needs of IAFF members.
Professional treatment for behavioral health conditions and addiction can be costly, both in terms of time and money. While treatment may seem like too big of a sacrifice, consider the costs of not seeking help. Countless fire fighters and paramedics have lost their marriages, children and careers to untreated mental health problems. Working toward recovery is an investment in your future, along with everything and everyone you hold dear.
Your recovery can’t wait. Your family and your crew need you. If you’re ready to take the first step toward getting help, reach out to the IAFF Center of Excellence today. Representatives are available to take your call and help you explore your treatment options.