What to Look For

Are you or someone you know struggling? Use the following indicators to guide you in the right direction.

Being a first responder can affect our lives in many different ways. Often times we are oblivious to the affects until someone who is close to us tells us "we've changed". Here are some indicators that you may be struggling and possibly need to get some relief.


ISOLATION / DETACHMENT - Wanting to be left alone and avoiding family members. Realizing that the activities you may have once done are no longer appealing.

  • In his book, Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement , Dr. Kevin Gilmartin discusses how officers usually have a whole list of "ustas"
    • "I usta fish"
    • "I usta hunt"
    • "I usta job"
    • "I usta do crafts and handiwork"
    • "I usta life weights"
    • "I usta garden"
    • "I usta do woodworking"
    • "I usta take my kids to the park
    • "I usta be married."
    • "I usta have a personal life."
    • "I usta give a damn about this job."

RESTLESS SLEEP / NO SLEEP - Your mind may be none stop, racing through the things that you "should have done, could have done, didn't do or want to do." Nightmares or reprocessing scenes over and over in your mind is also common.

WEIGHT CHANGE - Often times our bodies channel our stress through our bodies in different ways. For some people this may be a loss of weight without trying to lose weight or gaining weight when trying to lose weight. The chemicals in your body may be compensating to your stress by storing fat cells.

SHORT TEMPERED - Finding yourself short tempered with people who you are usually very patient with i.e.: kids, spouse, other family members, friends. The call load at work may be forcing your patience to a minimal level, taking all your energy and leaving you with nothing for your family and friends.

This list is not all inclusive and although short, it contains key indicators that may be a sign you need some relief. The idea of therapy is quite taboo in the world of law enforcement. The idea of keeping a gun clean after shooting is not. Take the same concept and apply it to your brain. The mind and brain contain information that needs to be processed through both the emotional and physical actions that took place during the event. When these two functions don't occur, the mind will hold events in the front of the brain until relief is found.


If a law enforcement officer agrees that a gun should be cleaned after it is shot, then why would they not agree that the mind should also be cleaned after a critical event or traumatic incident???

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