In the spring of 2017, my daughter broke both of her arms while skating at the skatepark in downtown Chattanooga. When we learned that she had taken such a hard fall, we took her directly to the emergency room. She came home with shiny new new casts on each of her freshly broken arms. She wore casts on both of her arms until the end of that school year.
At the last visit to her bone doctor, he pulled out two x-rays. “Sadie, this image is from the day you came into our office with two broken arms.” I could see both breaks were clean and distinct. He went on to say, “Sadie, this next image is an x-ray we took today. Look at all that new bone. Your arms have never been stronger.”
When I think of emotional or psychological injuries, I can not help but remember those parting words from the bone doctor. “Your arms have never been stronger.” The doctor defined for me that day the clearest definition of post-traumatic growth.
When treated in a timely and intentional manner, both of my daughters arms were able to heal correctly. She went on to play four seasons of varsity basketball at her high school and even went to the state tournament finishing in the final four in the state of Florida. Her senior year she was the team captain and had an absolutely magical season. Her team had relied on both of her strong arms for four wonderful seasons.
She recently graduated from high school and at her celebration dinner with all of her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins present. I took a few minutes to remind her again of those same words from her doctor. I wanted her to remember that brokenness is not the final answer. What can happen in and beyond brokenness is remarkable when we take the time to treat it with the care it deserves and needs.
In the fire service, you will experience physical, emotional, and psychological injuries. This is not just a likely event but certain as the work have chosen to do brings an inherent risk and likelihood. Good news! You have choices. You can choose to avoid the injury and it will likely become post-traumatic stress or worse. I’d like to advocate for you to address the injury. Research reveals that when you take an active approach to treating emotional injuries, you will likely experience “post-traumatic growth.”
So how do I begin to effectively treat emotional injuries?
Counseling: Reach out to an Elbow Tree counselor to schedule your first appointment. Call 904-877-4750 or email email@example.com to initiate getting scheduled.
Education: Read (1) “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown or (2) “The Body Keeps the Score - Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma” by Bessell Van Der Kolk, MD
Listen: Check out a handful of thoughtful podcasts that promote emotional and psychological resilience. (1) Hidden Brain podcast (2) Unlocking Us podcast (3) Terrible, Thanks for Asking podcast.
Watch: (1) Good Will Hunting (2) Inside Out (3) In Treatment (television series on HBO) (4) Ted Lasso
There are so many amazing resources for taking a look at creative ways to attend to your inner life. May each of these be a helpful tool for cultivating new growth in your life!