As some of you may know, May is a month of many things. One of these things being Mental Health Awareness month. It brings a lot of thoughts to my head. Thinking about if any one person can say that they are always mentally healthy or have it altogether, all the time. I would be pretty certain the answer would most likely be no. Every person has their days, their months, their years and so on. What I would like to touch on more today is the ability to know when that mental state of mind needs some intervention. And not being afraid to raise your hand to talk.
If you are part of the fire life, it is very likely you have heard talk about mental health in the fire service. To me it is a hot topic, getting more attention and hopefully one day fully accepted. In my first feature blog I brought on here I talked about Next Rung. They are making some huge waves on this subject. First responders and their families are offered someone to talk to at any time for any reason big or small. What firefighters see on the daily or sometimes occasionally can be taxing on their health. If they are not given the tools and means to deal with the emotions from those calls, it can be detrimental. For me in my life as a fire wife I feel like I know my husband enough to know when something isn’t right. Simply asking and giving him the room to talk or not talk is about all I know what to do. I will pray over and for him and always keep an open mind and heart for when he does need to talk. There has not been any red flags to me as his wife as to needing to worry about anything. But there are those times when I need to make sure that everything is okay. How do I know when something is off? For us I know my husband very well. I know that when he gets quiet something is bugging him. He is already a quiet person so I emphasize he gets REALLY QUIET. Haha But for him I know its never been anything big. But what if it gets big? Other signs that I know of for others and what research says is, lashing out, irritability, isolation, and self- destruction like addictions to name a few. With proper research I know you would be able to find out more.
I also want to bring up mental health and fire wives. How are we at home dealing with the ups and downs of living in the fire life? Some may be more equipped and deal well while others may need someone to talk with and sort through their overwhelmed and overflowing plate. BOTH are OKAY! For me I know having a husband that I can really sit down and talk with helps tremendously. He always knows when something is off with me even if I try my hardest to not let it show. For the most part it is something I truly love about him. Sometimes though I need to work through some things on my own. Knowing he is always there for me and vise versa gives us the ability to work through the hard days. And knowing we both have incredibly important roles to play to make our life work.
But back to the overwhelming things as a fire wife. We carry a lot of the home life whether we are stay at home moms, working moms, etc. There is a lot on our plate. A hidden society of wives supporting those hero’s on the fire line. We are care takers, counselors, mentors, and strength givers. It can sometimes take all we have especially during those days of endless over time. The times when we are at the end of our rope. Looking back it is amazing what I can say I have been through with and without my husband.
So, I would like to challenge those wives, or girlfriends, to really know where you’re at mentally. Know where you’re at before the peek fire season hits. Have a plan. If things get too much what is your next move? Find a community of fellow fire wives whether or not they live close by. One thing for sure I know is that no one gets it more like a fellow fire wife. That may be all you need is to know that there is someone out there who genuinely understands. It can give you the strength you need to endure. I literally just did a mental health check on my Instagram page to see what other wives were going through. I was so humbled and shocked by how many responses there was. And the one thing I realized was we ALL were or have gone through something similar. I realized we were not alone. This community of fire families has more in common with each other then we know. If we would be so bold and courageous to let another wife in and help us on our individual journeys. It could move mountains. Especially if that mountain is the struggle of LONELINESS. Because my goodness I could not emphasize this enough. You my ladies ARE NOT ALONE.
I also would like to challenge you to be really in tune with your firefighter. Check on them let them know you’re there for them and then show up and truly be there. Be okay with him needing time to talk. Be okay with him not being perfect for you because if its one thing I have learned perfection is a lie. But always striving to better ourselves and those we were put on this earth to love is something quite beautiful. Be aware this month about your mental health and that of your firefighters. If you believe you need help or your firefighter needs help, don’t be afraid to reach out to any resource you know. I am happy to help in any way I can. We are in this together.