Op/Ed: The First Step is the Hardest


The First Step is the Hardest. The following article has been written by Patrick Fitzgibbons. It includes editorial content which is the opinion and story of the writer.

Many people who struggle mentally or with an addiction are reluctant to come forward. They do not want to be perceived as weak and unable to cope with the challenges in their life.


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As a retired First Responder I can attest to the reluctance of coming forward. My ego and my fear were at play before I reached out for help. I was afraid of what my former peers, friends and family would think of me. A former Army Paratrooper and Law Enforcement veteran is now asking for help. I was ashamed. I hid my depression, anxiety and fear the best I could but it always found a way to reveal itself.

Only when I was at my darkest point and wanted to take my own life did I finally give in, put my ego and fear aside and make a call to FHE Health and Shatterproof for First Responders. That was the beginning of my journey of healing. A journey I am continually on.

Law Enforcement Suicides – Don’t Ignore the Signs, Even the Subtle Ones

After I reached out for help and started to get treatment, I had friends reach out to me and say things like “You always seemed to have everything together” and “I never saw someone like you needing any kind of help.” Here is a reminder – no matter how strong you think a person may be remember that person is dealing or struggling with something that you do not see, and everyone eventually reaches a breaking point. This is the point when that person has a choice to make.

The reality is that we all need help in our lives. Life is not a solo journey. It involves teamwork and people on your side. People that can help you get better so you can get back to your life. And while you might not hear it as often as you might like, many people are on your side. Remember that you taking that first step and getting treatment will be someone else’s script for their own recovery. You have given your strength to someone else which is powerful.

Life after Your Law Enforcement Career

Taking the first step with anything can be daunting. However, when it comes to your mental health and overall well being it needs to be a priority. I have never met anyone who reached out for help that regretted doing so because they helped save their own life. Who would regret that?

Are you ready to take that step?

Patrick Fitzgibbons is a retired Police Commander from Colorado with over two decades of experience in many different roles. Patrick currently lives in Scottsdale Arizona. Patrick holds advanced degrees in Business and Organizational Leadership. A former Army Paratrooper with the elite 82nd Airborne Division, Patrick is an avid supporter of active military members & veterans as well as the First Responder Community.

Patrick is a personal coach, speaker and is the host and creator of Criminal Justice Evolution. A top ranked criminal justice podcast. After going through severe depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation, Patrick sought treatment. Patrick is now a National Liaison for FHE Health – Shatterproof Program for First Responders. A nationally recognized behavioral health treatment provider which provides quality, innovation, and comprehensive treatment for patients.

Op/Ed: The First Step is the Hardest

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