Op/Ed: What I learned in Treatment


What I learned in Treatment. The following article has been written by Patrick Fitzgibbons. It includes editorial content which is the opinion and story of the writer.

I was staying at my younger sister’s house the night before I traveled to Florida to check into treatment at The Shatterproof Program for First Responders at FHE. I had a hard time falling asleep that night because I was afraid and nervous about my journey ahead of me.

The next day my sister drove me to Denver International Airport and as we drove, I started smoking cigarettes that I had with me. A nasty habit that I developed when I was in my dark space over the last several months. By the time it took to drive from my sister’s house and the airport (approximately 40 min) I had gone through a half a pack of my smokes. I was a wreck – physically and emotionally.

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When we arrived, my sister gave me a big hug and told me she was proud of me, and she loved me. I made my way into the terminal, and I was terrified. I have never felt this level of anxiety before in my life and had traveled frequently over the years, but this was true terror in my mind. I made my way to my gate, and I debated on bailing and calling a ride back to my sister’s house. Just then we started to board, and I sheepishly boarded the plane.

I was so scared as I held my emotions inside during the plane ride to Florida. It was later in the day when I arrived and when we landed my contact texted me and advised he was waiting for me after I retrieved my luggage.

As he drove me to the facility, I kept thinking of what got me to this point in my life. I realized that I had denied my problems for too long and there was no one to blame except me. A hard reality.


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We arrived and the staff were so friendly, and outgoing. They treated me with respect and dignity and my nerves were beginning to settle down. This was my reality now and that night I slept better than I had in a long time. I was safe and where I needed to be.

During the course of the next month, I learned many things about myself and others who were in the program. It was okay for me to be vulnerable and open up. It was okay for me to cry among my peers, and it was okay to love myself again. My treatment and my brothers and sisters taught me that, and I will forever be in their debt.

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I don’t know what’s ahead, but I do know that whatever life throws at me I will be better prepared because I made a phone call when I was in the dark.

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 and 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: What I learned in Treatment

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