17 things to think about emotional wellness after Dallas

Barbara A. Schwartz
Author: Barbara A. Schwartz

If you made the shooting scene in Dallas, then you’ve been injured. All normal, feeling human beings who responded to the shooting and crime scene will be affected on some level. Your injury is a normal response to an abnormal event. Most importantly, treat — don’t ignore — your injury.

Here are 17 things for all first responders — not just those who responded to the scene of a recent mass shooting — to consider about emotional wellness following a large-scale critical incident.

1. Acknowledge your injury and be kind to yourself so that you can heal.

2. Keep to your normal routine as much as possible. You will find solace in normalcy and so will your family.

3. Discharge the injury. Cry. Talk to someone close to you, another first responder, a loved one, your clergy, a friend. You don’t have to tell them what you saw, but share how you feel. Write down your feelings in the form of a letter, journal, poem, or email. You don’t have to keep what you write. Shred it or burn it. The act of connecting language, either spoken or written, to traumatic memories has been scientifically proven to heal and help your brain store and make sense of the memories.

4. You are hurting, injured. If you were bleeding, you would seek treatment, get stitches. Your psyche and soul need those stitches.

5. Keep busy with productive activities such as household chores, exercise, cook, mow the yard, watch comedies.

6. Avoid excesses of anything: food, booze, gambling, sex, spending, etc.

7. Limit your time on the Internet and watching or reading the news. You lived it. You don’t need to re-experience the trauma over and over again.

8. Take advantage of the psychological counseling or peer support resources your agency makes available to you.

9. Your reaction may be more personal and intense if you knew one of the victims. This is normal. Be aware of this phenomenon and provide increased tolerance and compassion for officers personally impacted.

10. Educate yourself about the symptoms of post traumatic stress because you may experience one or more of the following:

Hypervigilance Anger and rage Emotional numbness Irritability Guilt Depression Flashbacks Nightmares and/or trouble sleeping Panic attacks Avoiding thoughts of the incident Physical sensations such as upset stomachs, joint or headaches, sweating, breathing difficulties, chest pains, trembling, or chills Memory lapses or trouble concentrating Jumpiness or being easily startled Social withdrawal or isolation

These are all normal reactions following an abnormal event. You are not crazy if you experience one or more of these symptoms in moderation. If any of these symptoms overtake your life, become uncontrollable, or you cut yourself off from those you love or who love you, seek help.

11. Control how and when and to whom you recount your ordeal. You don’t owe other people a play-by-play. Recounting the memories over and over will drag you through it again and again and open the healing scab. Don’t pull out those much needed stitches.

12. Avoid "what-if" thinking such as “What if I was closer, got there faster, didn’t make that traffic stop across town minutes before the shooting. What if I could have prevented it?” Don’t do that to yourself. What if thinking isn’t productive unless it’s used to improve future tactics, training, or procedures.

13. Feeling helpless is normal. Feeling vulnerable is normal. As much as you would like to think otherwise, you are not Superman or Wonder Woman. You are human, mortal, and an emotional being. Allow yourself to be that.

14. Reach out to others who are also injured, mourning, and grieving. Peer support heals everyone including you.

15. Hug people, family, spouses, kids, friends, pets. Share the pain, don’t hide it, hoping to protect those you love from the trauma. In doing so, you will only hurt them more.

16. Use pet therapy. Pets are great to talk to. They don’t judge or advise. They listen with unconditional love.

17. Suicide rates escalate in the wake of a traumatic incident. Monitor yourself and your fellow officers. Signs may be evident or hidden. Don’t let the death toll rise.

This Hurts Us All Every first responder across this country feels the pain of the shooting in Dallas. As police officers, we are the caretakers of society.

This hurts. All of us.

Tend to your invisible wound. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Having this invisible wound doesn’t make you weak or less of an officer. It makes you human. Makes you everything that the evil that perpetrated this crime was not.

Wounds can heal if you tend to them appropriately.

You are a first responder, a police officer, a warrior because of who you are and what you believe in. You took an oath to serve and protect and that also means you accepted the risk, the possibility of being killed, injured, or disabled in the line of duty. In taking that oath to serve and protect society, you also accepted the possibility and responsibility of the invisible injury of trauma.

Warriors embrace trauma as part of the task and allow themselves time to lick their wounds and heal.

Acknowledging trauma is heroic, not weak. Treat your wounds. Seek those stitches. Honor your trauma.

If you need someone to talk to, please reach out to me via email here. If I can’t assist you, I know someone who can and will.

To learn more visit: PoliceOne Columnist Articles

Col. Chapter 3, Verse 12-17
Sunday Morning Worship – Bible Study
Pastor Jon Bell
September 9, 2012

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/CalvaryChapelFlowerMound

Pastor Jon Bell Calvary Chapel Flower Mound. Church in Flower Mound TX

Jesus is Bigger Pt 6
Colossians 3:12-17
” How to Control Our
Feelings when our
feelings are controlling
Feelings — feelings are powerful
Crimes of passion
I have feelings too. I am still human. All I want is to be
loved, for myself and for my talent.
Marilyn Monroe
1 | P a g e
Proverbs 28:26 – He who trusts in his own heart is a fool
Feelings aren’t bad — explain
But when our feelings are our masters they can be
They can lead us the wrong way, dominate our lives and
they can become a playground for satan to a hold of us
Feelings are like a train
Or a fire
When we are controlled by them we suffer physically,
emotionally, and spiritually
God does not give a spirit of fear, but one of power, love
and a sound mind
Those receiving this letter were threatened with feelings
of insufficiency, inadequacy, and un-holiness
Brought on by false teachers
This morning look how to control our feelings when our
feelings are controlling us
Read 3:12-17
2 | P a g e
Jesus Is Bigger-How to control our feelings when our
feelings are controlling us
1. Do what you Know
Our feelings and emotions can tell us one thing and our
minds another causing confusion. Don’t let these
feelings turn into action. Hold on, do what you know!
A.12 Therefore
Because of our new nature
Col 2:11-13- died-buried-raised –with Him by faith in
the working of God-made alive together with Him
Col 3:1 –raised with Christ — new ambition (seek),
new goal (set)
New life-Christ who is your life
So –put off-don’t nurture, feed, arrange our life
according to earthly ways in which we used to do
when we lived in the flesh
b. as the elect of God
now we are chosen of God
3 | P a g e
to be his children
that’s who we are and the new nature we have is a
godly on
c. holy and beloved
we are holy
we are loved
so act accordingly
put on
I used to think I should have the feelings of the
behaviors I was suppose to have
I used to beat myself up because I didn’t feel
very compassionate, kind, humble, loving etc
?joy, why do I stress, where’s the peace?
I felt as if I needed to have the feelings before I
would be able to act accordingly
What I/we need to realize is that sometimes it
requires the action to experience the feeling
Not works
4 | P a g e
You are healed-Take up you mat
John 5:6-9
6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew
that he already had been in that condition a
long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be
made well?”
Col 2:13-15
13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and
the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made
alive together with Him, having forgiven you all
trespasses, 14 having wiped out the
handwriting of requirements that was against
us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken
it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
15 Having disarmed principalities and powers,
He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing
over them in it.
7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no
man to put me into the pool when the water is
stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps
down before me.”
8 Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and
walk.” 9 And immediately the man was made
well, took up his bed, and walked.
In other words –“put on” is to imitate Christ
5 | P a g e
He knew how to do Life
We might not understand everything, but we
can do what He did and have the same results
1. (Put on) tender mercies- “he looked on the
multitude and was moved with compassion”
Sensitive to the touch
Luke 1:77-79
77 To give knowledge of salvation to His people
By the remission of their sins,
78 Through the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Dayspring from on high has
visited us;
79 To give light to those who sit in darkness and
the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace.”
2. (Put on) Kindness — goodness toward others that
pervades the entire person, mellowing all harsh
Matt 11:30 For My yoke is easy (kind) and My
burden is light.”
I.e. feeding the multitudes
6 | P a g e
Prov 3:27 Do not withhold good from those to
whom it is due, When it is in the power of your
hand to do so.
3. (put on) Humility- Humility is the outlook,
attitude, approach in our interactions with
Phil 2:7-9
7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the
form of a bondservant, and coming in the
likeness of men. 8 And being found in
appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and
became obedient to the point of death, even the
death of the cross.
Matt 11:29
I am gentle and lowly in heart

Sorry, ran out of space. Download PDF here – calvarychapelflowermound.org/sermons/?sermon_id=474

Calvary Chapel Flower Mound
1001 Cross Timbers Road
Flower Mound, TX 75028
(469) 464-3940

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17 things to think about emotional wellness after Dallas


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