By Vanessa Stapleton – President Armor Up West Virginia

I answer calls for first responders in crisis. I do that because at one time it was our family in crisis. Coming out on the other side gives me hope to share with others. More and more, what I find is that people sometimes don’t want help as much as they want a magic cure. There is no “magic” cure. When you are in a crisis, it is possible to do the work to get out of the crisis. Unfortunately, and especially more recently, people want us to do the work for them. When they learn that overcoming their problems will require work on their end, they don’t want the “help” anymore. Why is that?

The past few weeks, we have received multiple calls of first responders suffering with PTSD and/or addiction. When we tell them the steps to help them overcome these issues, repair their family, and get back to work; we are met with excuse after excuse of why they cannot do the work to get out of the crisis. I have heard everything from, “I don’t have time for therapy” to “I don’t have the money.” The problem is that they have time and the money to create chaos in their family and buy alcohol, but do not have time or the money to get help. Those are just a few small examples of excuses we hear.

People want solutions without putting in the work. People want to reap the rewards without putting in the effort. People want us to wave a magic wand and make their lives better. The truth is, to fix a problem, you will need to put in the work. I can’t give someone a shortcut for the hard work it takes to be in recovery. I can’t give someone a shortcut to heal their brain from PTSD. It takes good, old fashioned hard work with a trained specialist. You can’t shortcut that process. If you could, you would be the smartest and richest person alive today because everyone would be lined up for that cure. We live in a world where we have become all about “instant” results. Living in that world, we have forgotten what hard work and dedication look like.

I spoke to a first responder recently who only needed trauma therapy. Her issues were not such that she needed any inpatient treatment. Trauma therapy would have walked her through the steps to healing. She gave me every excuse in the world of why she did not have time to do this therapy. She was a mess, but unwilling to make the time to do the work needed to overcome the issues. There are only two options here: 1. Continue to struggle on a daily basis and just hope the sky aligns and your issues disappear like magic 2. Do the work and put in the time and effort to overcome the issues. Somehow I find myself explaining daily why excuses are at the end of the day simply that, excuses. If nothing changes, nothing changes.

I struggle sometimes hearing excuse after excuse of why each person simply refuses to go to therapy or treatment. I was married to someone who made the same choice. He chose not to do what he needed to do. It destroyed our family. I, however, made the choice to heal. I made the choice to give my children every opportunity to heal.

I am a skeptic of therapists. I think they should be vetted. Thankfully, we use Serve and Protect for that. I, as a single mother of four, work two jobs and still make time to see my therapist. Also, I lost my insurance so sometimes therapy cuts into my grocery money. But my kids deserve a healthy and whole mother. I would rather eat grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner than let my kids have a mentally unhealthy mother. I, also, make time for my kids’ therapy which interrupts a lot of things. Sometimes it interrupts my work. Sometimes it interrupts plans. But my children’s mental health is my number one priority. I don’t want them to suffer as adults because they did not get adequate healing as children. I do not expect anyone to wave a magic wand and erase the trauma we endured. The trauma may not have been our fault, but the healing is our responsibility. I take that seriously.

I need people to understand that healing requires work. Healing requires effort. Healing isn’t something that you just wake up and “find.” When you call a crisis hotline, they won’t fix your problems. They will give you the resources to help you fix your problems. It will require work and effort on your part. The rest of us on the other side will tell you that it will be the most worthwhile work you will ever do. Healing is an indescribable feeling. Every minute of effort you put into your own healing will reap in a harvest like you have never experienced.

If you, someone you love or someone you know needs help, call:

Safe Call Now:  24 Hour Confidential Hotline:  206-459-3020

For more information on the First Responders program:  Click here

Or call Shannon Clairemont at 661-405-8014 or Vanessa Stapleton at 304-651-3008