941-462-4807 meg@megyounglcsw.com

As the strong protector you are, I’m sure you’ve thought several times to yourself that you don’t need other people. You don’t need help from others. You can do it yourself. If you can’t do it, what does that say about you?
 
If this sounds like you, you are not alone. However, when we live our lives believing we do not need help or support from others, it affects us in so many ways. We are social beings and need others in one way or another throughout our lives.
 
If it’s ok to ask for help making dinner, why is it not ok to ask for emotional help? The downsides to not asking for help include spiraling further down and can ultimately lead to suicidal thoughts or actions in many people. In reality, nobody is immune to suicidal thoughts. We all have a breaking point somewhere. Without support from others, these thoughts can turn deadly.
 
Not only does not asking for help impact our own safety and wellbeing, but it affects those around us. As we are spiraling down, sometimes without even realizing that we are headed that way, others notice the changes in us. Others notice the withdrawing behaviors, the irritability, the sarcasm, the increased drinking, the increased gambling, the increased time at the gym.
 
Thankfully, but unfortunately at the same time, first responder suicides is gaining more attention. This brings to light the fact that your job is incredibly stressful and if you start feeling this way, you are not alone. You may have heard stories of other first responders who succumbed to thoughts of suicide or ended up in rehab for alcoholism, or their relationship ended in divorce.
 
At the time, you may have thought nothing of it, or you may have believed it would never happen to you. These sorts of things can’t be common. They must only happen to people who are not strong enough; people that shouldn’t have gone into the field anyway.
 
Unfortunately, all this does is distance yourself from reality even more. When we live our lives believing it could never happen to me, we tend to miss the signs and we tend to disregard what others say to us, putting ourselves in greater risk.
 
Eventually you find yourself where you never thought you’d be. You wind up in a place of confusion, caught off guard. You might even beat yourself up over it, not sure how you missed all the signs. Beating yourself up just brings you further down.
 
The truth is it is completely normal to want to be able to do it alone. It is completely normal to want to feel strong. It is completely normal to believe it cannot or will not happen to you. It is also completely normal for you to feel out of control of your mind and life.
 
It’s true that you feel cut off and ostracized, with several areas of your life impacted at this point. However, if we can grow and gather our support herd, we can both come back from this feeling of isolation and prevent a further decline in our lives. Once you have identified your support herd, it is entirely possible to pull on their strength until we can do it independently again. Support is not a one way road, your support herd will need their own support as well. As you regain your strength, you will be able to support them as well.
 
Keep reading to learn how to increase feelings of connection with yourself, your friends and family, and your life today.
 
FEELING ALONE, ISOLATED, MAYBE STARTING TO NOT TRUST PEOPLE
 
The biggest downfall to not finding a quality herd to help and support you through the worst times is that you continue to fall further down. We are social beings and need each other for support, encouragement, and help at times during our lives.
 
At the very least, you find yourself alone and sad. That sadness may show as anger, resentment, apathy, or a whole variety of other feelings. It all boils down to we need people in our lives.
 
Living without others’ help and support is isolating and damaging. It damages our self worth, relationships, and ultimately our quality of life.
 
ENGAGING IN LIFE, FAMILY, WORK, AND THE WORLD
 
Although you struggle with feelings of disconnection, you have the potential to reconnect with your family, friends, life, and the world. You have the potential to feel part of the world again and not so detached from everything.
 
When we choose to develop a quality herd, one that is quality over quantity for sure, there is a possibility for improvement in all aspects of your life.
 
You have the opportunity to become involved in life again. You will be able to see that you are a part of life, breathe the air and feel human again.
 
AS SOCIAL BEINGS, IT IS VITAL THAT WE HAVE A QUALITY HERD TO HELP US THROUGH THE DARK TIMES AS WELL AS THE NOT SO DARK TIMES. OUR HERD IS OUR SURVIVAL.
 
Yes it is true you may be feeling distant from life at this point, but it does not have to be this way forever. The key to achieving attachment to life is to find the right herd; not just anybody, but the right people.
 
Finding these people and adding them to your herd is not as difficult as you think because they are already in your life. When you follow a quick exercise, you will be able to identify those who are most suited to join your herd and support you along the darkest moments of your life.
 
Take a look at these next steps to see how you can achieve connection to yourself and the world around you with the support of your herd
 
One of the reasons you struggle with feeling so alone is because of the culture you are in. First responders are supposed to be strong and independent. You are not supposed to need help.
 
But I know you don’t do everything alone. You have partners, you have others who help you do your job and you couldn’t do it without them.
 
So why is it different with your emotional well-being? Why is it so taboo to talk about the need to take care of your own mental wellbeing?
 
It doesn’t have to stay this way when you start finding your herd; when you start using the people around you in a supportive way and allow them to call on you when they need it as well.
 
Anybody who is in the trenches with other people’s suffering is going to be impacted by that in some way. Some people will understand because they’ve been there or are there currently. Others will understand because they can only imagine what you go through.
 
You do not have to share details of anything you see and “traumatize” your friends and family in order to use them as support and strength.
 
The important thing with identifying your herd is you want quality over quantity. It doesn’t matter how many people you have as long as this crew are people you know you can trust and rely on.
 
Different people have different strengths. As you do the below exercise to identify your herd, keep this in mind. Some people may be assets to you in ways you don’t think of immediately.
 
Give yourself some quiet time to think. Grab a piece of paper and a pen because you’ll want that handy at the end of this exercise. This is an exercise I do with my clients and in session it is quite powerful. My clients identify people who are helpful to them who they hadn’t thought about in a long time.
 
When you do this exercise, you will notice that you are not alone. You will notice that there are people you can reciprocate the support to. You will notice a feeling of connection and hope.
 
Step 1: Think about everyone throughout your life who has added to your self esteem, who encouraged you, and who you felt safe and supported by.
 
This can be family, teachers, friend’s parents, coaches, etc. These people may be present currently in your life or helpful in the past but are no longer helpful to you.
 
They might be imagined people, celebrities, and those no longer alive. These are people who would not judge you and who you felt supported by.
 
Step 2: Call them in being aware of who they are, what they look like, and their names. Make this as concrete as possible, reminding yourself these are the figures you could call on when needing support in your daily life, whether for wisdom, emotional support, play, etc.
 
Step 3: Review the members of your team and ask any members who you no longer feel completely supported by or safe with to leave. Watch them leave and invite new members to take the places of those you have asked to leave.
 
Step 4: Imagine them coming forward and providing you with some words of wisdom and support. Now come back into the room and write down your herd.
 
How many people did you come up with? Remember this exercise is about quality over quantity so even if you came up with less than a handful that is ok.
 
You can repeat this exercise if you want to have different grades or types of support as well.
 
When you schedule a session with me, this is only the beginning of your reconnection with yourself, your life, and your family. This exercise, when done with my clients provides them with the knowledge and support they need to continue through the difficult parts of their journey towards healing.
 
Achieving a feeling of connection will take time. Finding your support herd can also take time. This step is so important and so powerful that many of my clients feel relief just from this exercise. When you feel reconnected it is such a powerful feeling of freedom and relief.
 
You absolutely can feel in control and stable within your life and world. This culture of strength and independence will grow to include yourself and other first responders. When this happens, I expect to see the number of first responder suicides decline.
 
You are strong. You are independent. You have what it takes. But sometimes having a bit of support will help you maintain your connection with yourself and the world. We are social beings and need to rely on others for support every now and then.
 
I specialize in first responders, medical professionals and court professionals. I specialize in helping people who see, hear, and deal with other people’s pain and suffering on a daily basis not lose connection with themselves and their lives, and if they have, to help them pull that feeling of confidence and strength back.
 
I look forward to helping you along that journey, at whatever place you are in on that journey. If you are not yet sure if therapy is for you, may I suggest that you take a look at some of my other blogs, especially 6 tips to Identifying when to seek therapy.
 
Wherever you are on your journey, I wish you the best. When you are ready to take the next step and complete your reconnection with life, call or email me. 941-462-4807 or meg@megyounglcsw.com.

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