Last Friday I spoke in front of a room of first responders – firefighters, paramedics, nurses, police officers, social workers, victim service advocates, 9-1-1 operators, physicians – and I was reminded about the heaviness of the work.
In the words of the wise Ram Dass, “We are all just walking each other home”. If you’re not interested in holding people at their worst, you shouldn’t do this job. Full stop. Typically people who are at their worst have suffered trauma, particularly trauma that has not been addressed or acknowledged. Your mental health will most certainly decline if you don’t have a place to put it.
Here’s the truth about anxiety, depression, PTSD: it won’t kill you, but not talking about it might.
Doing this incredible work of serving and stepping into someone’s dysregulation means people depend on you, they trust you to support them when they’re most vulnerable. The problem is, if we don’t hold you, the first responder, it will fuck you up. Repeatedly hanging on to people’s pain without being acknowledged (again and again) will mess you up and make you angry. It is a privilege and honour to step into people’s pain, but if you don’t look after yourself in the process, it will kill you.
And friends, we are not looking after our first responders properly. These people volunteer to put the needs of other people above their own, which is why they are truly heroes. First responders don’t ask you, “What circumstances led you here? Was that the best choice?” They say, “I’m here to help you, you’re going to be okay.”
Just imagine, for a minute, what they might witness throughout the course of their careers. And then imagine not having anywhere to put it. Moreover, a lot of our first responders are male, which lends itself to a culture that still says, “This shouldn’t affect you, also don’t talk about it. Are we good?”
The truth is, sometimes we’re not good. And burying that truth can have adverse effects on the human body. The healing happens when you stop to intentionally talk through it and remember the emotion. You have to go through it, you can’t go around it. We have the potential to change the world on the daily.
Which brings me to Hello, Hero. This is a one-day virtual event, on November 5, for all the heroes who do the frontline work, and the people who support them.
It’s about trauma, when and why it can be a big deal (and what to do about it). We’ll talk all about relationships and connection and timing. And we’ll wrap up this important day with a plan to help each of you be better than you’ve ever been, and hear from you about what the “next steps” in shifting culture might look like.
Our hope is to reconnect organizations by offering group rates for 10 or more people. To inquire please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
For tickets, speaker line-up and more information, visit: www.drjodycarrington.com/hellohero/ today.