In this episode of Beyond the 1st Response, Robyn and Christy have a discussion with Chesapeake, VA Fire Captain Chris Moore about your mental bucket overflowing into a dark place. Chris opens up about his “mental bucket” overflowing and how he overcame this with the help of his family and his service dog Lewis.
Mental Bucket Overflow
Having been a fireman for 19 years, in 2017 the stress of the job combined with daily life began to weigh him down. Darkness is the place many first responders sit and in those moments you feel the weight of the traumatic calls taking you places you didn’t know existed. Chris refers to the mind as a “bucket” and when it was not emptied, it eventually overflowed. `
A Chief Who Cares
In a department of 500 firefighters, the Chesapeake Fire Chief knows everyone by name and truly cares about his crew. Chief came to Chris in January of 2017 and asked to meet for lunch. Knowing he was not in a good place, Chris was confused and worried as to why the Chief wanted to meet. He was up for Captain and if the Chief knew of his struggles that could be his job so he turned the lunch down at first. However, after telling his wife he just made career suicide he changed his mind. To Chris’s surprise and relief, during their meeting they talked about where Chris’ mindset was at that time and his chief seemed truly understanding and invested in his well being. As time goes on we are beginning to see this change from administrations across the country.
Therapists Are Like A Pair Of Shoes
In 2018 Chris began his journey of therapy and learning tools for a different mindset. He made the decision on his own to find a therapist that would work for him. Not all therapists understand first responders.
~Therapists are like a pair of shoes it is not one-size-fits-all ~Chris
It is ok to interview a therapist until you find the right fit, in fact, it is incredibly important to do this. As Chris began weekly sessions, he found that EMDR therapy worked for him.
Most people at work did not realize that Chris struggled with PTSI. Determined to overcome his pain, he was introduced to the non-profit Service dogs of Virginia. After a long screening process that included mounds of paperwork, a home visit to assure the space was appropriate, and family interviews, Chris took a trip to Charlottesville Virginia to meet the dogs, including the one that would eventually become his…Lewis. Concerned that they wouldn’t let him bring his new service dog to work, he lined up an ADA attorney prior to speaking with his Chief regarding his intentions. Ultimately, it was approved but only after an incredibly long and anxiety inducing wait period! Once Lewis’s training was complete, he was brought to Chris and has been by his side ever since 2020. Lewis brings so much more to everyone around him, although he cannot go on calls, when they get back, he checks in on Chris and is there for the other firemen.
PTSI is a daily struggle for both the first responder and their family. Working together to learn tools and find a therapist to help is one of the strongest steps you can take. Chris started the process on his own, but not everyone is able to. It’s ok to ask for help for yourself or for someone you know. Check out our resource tab for therapists near you. First H.E.L.P