Nov. 3, 2021

Developing Emotional Intelligence- Destiny Morris, Certified First Responder Counselor

If you feel like your first responder partner or family member is not giving you enough attention even on off-duty, Associate Marriage and Family Therapist Destiny Morris will teach you how to cope with this situation. Also, she will introduce and explain the Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy and the importance of accepting new perspectives in life.


If you feel like your first responder partner or family member is not giving you enough attention even on off-duty, Associate Marriage and Family Therapist Destiny Morris will teach you how to cope with this situation. Also, she will introduce and explain the Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy and the importance of accepting new perspectives in life.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • How to avoid loneliness when your first responder partner is on deployment
  • How to have a sense of individuality or own identity outside of marriage
  • How to better understand your first responder partner especially when he had gruesome things at work
  • EMDR Therapy, a gentle way to approach trauma
  • Why therapy is important
  • What to do when you don't like your therapist

Connect with Destiny:

https://www.instagram.com/on_being_resilient/

 

Host Information
Your host Jerry D. Lund can be reached at 801-376-7124 or email at enduringthebdage@gmail.com or voice message use the icon microphone at www.enduringthebadgepodcast.com. Please feel free to give my information to anyone that might be feeling down or anyone you would like to be on the podcast. Please subscribe to the podcast and leave a review wherever you listen to your podcast.  If you like the podcast please share it and join the online community at www.instagram.com/enduringthebadgepodcast.

Reach out to Destiny now. Don't forget to listen to our other episodes!

Transcript

Everyday Heroes Podcast Network  
This podcast is part of the Everyday Heroes Podcast Network, the network for first responders and those who support them.

Intro  
Welcome. The trials of first responders and their families aren't easy. Enduring the Badge Podcast is building a community to help them out. Introducing your host by 30 years of experience as a first responder, Jerry Dean Lund.

Patriot Supreme  
Hey everyone, before we jump into this next episode, I want to thank my sponsor Patriot Supreme, they make the highest quality CBD products that I know of a veteran owned company with products made right here in the United States. I've used them in their personal life, because they work. I've tried other products, they have not worked and these do. I like the CBD oil, the CBD gummies they have melatonin gummies with CBD in them, they have a deep freeze roll on that works for those joints that are a little bit sore or muscle pain. I love them all. You should check them out at patriotsupreme.com. And don't forget to use the code and Enduring the Badge. If you're a first responder that'll get your 50% off. And please go check them out on their Instagram and Facebook page @patriotsupreme. 

Jerry D. Lund 
Let's jump right into this next episode with Destiny Morris. How are you doing destiny?

Destiny Morris  
Hi, good. I'm good. How are you?

Jerry D. Lund    
I'm doing good. I'm excited to have you on and excited to talk about some stuff people probably don't want to talk about. 

Destiny Morris 
Right? 

Jerry D. Lund  
Maybe they do want to talk about it. Maybe we're just breaking the ice for them.

Destiny Morris  
Yeah, maybe it's okay. That's my job. That's why I'm here.

Jerry D. Lund
Your professional at that, at that.

Destiny Morris 
Working on that. Yeah.

Jerry D. Lund
Tell the audience a little bit about yourself.

Destiny Morris  
Sure. So I am an AMFT. So an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist. I live in Ventura, California, with my boyfriend who is a wildland firefighter. See, I worked in a psych hospital for a bit and I've worked with active duty military, first responders. I work in substance abuse. I work with teenagers with behavioral, cognitive and learning issues. Let's see what else and then I'm a first responder therapist. That's my big thing. So my instagram or kind of what my social media platform is, is to support first responders and their families.

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah, cuz you know firsthand, right? That that's makes you kind of rare in that area that you know, firsthand. Not too many first responders have that opportunity to have somebody like you in their family.

Destiny Morris  
Yeah, yeah, I find it comforting. Even for myself looking at clinicians, that's something that I would want is someone that truly understood the lifestyle because it is so unique. And you don't get it unless you're in it.

Jerry D. Lund  
Right. Right. And you were just saying your boyfriend came home with two this morning from a fire.

Destiny Morris   
Yeah. 2am. Now we are up for two more hours, because I haven't seen him in quite a while. So it was a long, long morning. Not a lot of sleep, but totally worth it.

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah. Well, can you let's talk about that reunion a little bit how, like, Where's he been? How long it's been gone? And

Destiny Morris  
Yeah, so this one wasn't as long as the other ones he was only gone 10 days. Usually he's gone the full 14 home for two days, a little r&r and then back again for another two weeks, but at the station. So yeah, it was so nice to see him just because this last I mean, everyone that's involved in this lifestyle knows these past months have been just the middle of fire season. And we're getting into more dry windy here in California. So it was nice to have reunited and have some space together and catch up.

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah, that's, that's crazy, right? You're gone on the spire for 10 days comes back for r&r for two days, and then he's back working at the station. That's got to be a lot to handle.

Destiny Morris 
Ah it is. I'm not gonna lie and say it's not. But I also pride myself on knowing how to be independent and knowing how to be okay by myself. And that's something that I like to share, especially over my social media platform. How to be okay on your own because I think that a lot of first responder families really struggle when it comes to the time that they're by themselves.

Jerry D. Lund  
Right. And I think this is a great way to lead into some great conversation. Yeah, being I know my wife doesn't like she doesn't like to be alone. And she definitely doesn't like it to be alone when I'm gone out of state on a fire and stuff. But how did you get to the point where you do we're okay with being alone?

Destiny Morris 
I'm laughing because I really wasn't okay in the beginning. I've told this story before, for people that know me a little bit, but I'll tell it again, the first time he got called to fire was three in the morning. And I stayed up all night, or that morning to the rest of the day, and I thought he was going to be coming home that same day, and I was just so distraught and so lonely, and I didn't know what to do with myself, and I couldn't function. And I found myself almost waiting for my life to continue for him to come home. So it didn't take very long for me to realize that that's so unhealthy, and it wasn't good for me, and I was very anxious. Um, and then also with my background, I get to, you know, have that, that helped me and not a lot of people say that I'm doing therapy on myself over here. I'm thankful for that. But um, yeah, a few things that have helped have definitely been realizing that being lonely is a choice. So being alone is not a choice that a lot of us have as first responder partners, or even as first responders. That's a fact. But being lonely is an emotional state. And we get to choose if we want to dwell in the emotion, lonely or not. So giving myself the choice was really helpful. And then also not comparing my relationship to other people's especially, you know, on Instagram, you see, oh, your husband's home every night, you guys get to sleep in the same bed together. And I'm like, Man, I wish I had that, which builds almost a resentment, and it makes your loneliness even stronger. So that's been something that I've learned not to compare. Um, I mean, there's so much in here, I'm thinking a lot about stop me too, because I'm rambling, but,

Jerry Lund
 No, you're good, you're good. I think it's important.

Destiny Morris  
Okay, I'm thinking a lot about just the facts of marriage in itself. So one of the leading causes of divorce is when people do not have a sense of individuality, or their own identity outside of their marriage. And the reason that is, is because they have nothing new to bring into their marriage. So it becomes this very boring, mundane, same thing over and over again. And one of the highlights of being a first responder partner is that it's not boring and mundane. It's exciting, and you miss it, and they come home, and that reunion is the best thing ever. So I have learned to really embrace that part of it. And through finding my own hobbies, self care, really learning what I like to do as an individual, and having my own thing outside of my relationship has made me and my relationship so much healthier, because then I have stuff to share with him. And he has stuff to share with me. And we're excited to see each other. So that has been a really a balancing act for me. But I've learned how to be, you know, independent in that.

Jerry D. Lund
Right. So you're talking about the choice of have the feeling of being lonely. I mean, what other choices do you have, like when you're in that state of like being lonely or missing, you know, missing that person because maybe for for you in your case, or even your your boyfriend goes out and wildland fires and works at the station, and it's gone for long periods of time. But also other first responders military have that same type of thing, where they're gone for a long time, or police officers in some certain ways, right? Working these crazy schedules and like, see their wife for like, few minutes. "Hi, bye. I'm like going to bed Oh, hi, I'm going to work" type of thing. Like, what, you know, there's this a lot of emotions there. What's your advice to dealing with some of those other than, you know, making this choice and bringing in your own hobbies and things like that?

Destiny Morris 
Yeah, there is a choice and the other emotions that are there, man, there's so much there's anxiety, we'll talk about the bad ones. First, there's anxiety and fear. You know, because you are worried that your partner, you know, they could get hurt on the job, or wildland firefighters, you know, it's a lot more dangerous, or even police military, any of that there's that worry and fear, anxiety, um, and then the loneliness, of course. And then on the other side of it, like I said, there's that independence. So for me, as a woman, I can only speak as a woman. I like to think of my time alone as my time and it's good. I have my own Netflix show. I have a book that I'm wanting to read. I'm nerdy like that. I like books. I have a list of hobbies and things that I love to do. And in the very beginning, those things didn't come naturally for me, just like any coping skill, you have to learn to use that coping skill over time in order for it to be something that's easily accessible. It's not going to be easily accessible if you're not used to grabbing that coping skill over something else. So if I'm really used to grabbing the coping skill of being lonely and depressed and anxious, then I'm going to grab that every time he leaves out the door. But if I learn to grab the coping skills of going for walks, working out having my own show and my quiet time, then I'm going to practice how to have those over feeling lonely and down. So something that helps me in the beginning, just get into that is I would actually make a list on paper or in my phone, of all the things that I love to do that make me happy. And I like to think of it this way, too, is if you could comfort yourself, how would you comfort yourself? You know, if you could almost split yourself in half and be a caregiver or a mother or father figure to your own self, that's sad, or lonely, what would you do? And then make a list of those things. You know, for me, I have a dog, which is great. So going for a walk going to the beach. And then when I get in that moment, when I start to feel triggered of being lonely or anxious, I'll look at that list. And I'll be like, Okay, what are the what am I going to do today? Which coping skill am I going to grab from here rather than grabbing from the unhealthy, so that helps to get it in motion. And then the more you do this, and the more you practice it, the easier it becomes where now it's like clockwork, he leaves and I like to walk the dog that's helped me. If we leave at the same time, it's so much easier than being left. So a lot of times I'll leave the house, and then I'll come back and reintroduce myself to okay, this is my independent life because you're almost living two lives, you know, you're switching back and forth between life with a partner and then life on your own.

Responder Wipes 
Yeah, no, I like that. That's, that's, that's great advice. And I like that you write it down. Because if I don't write it down, what do I do? I I'm gonna forget, and then go to probably those poor coping skills. Yeah. And that's probably what you find with other people and that so with a lot of things in our life, I feel like if we just don't write them down, we so easy to pick up something that we didn't intended to pick up and do. 

Destiny Morris 
Exactly, yeah. 

Jerry D. Lund  
So let's talk about a little bit about your, your, your training that you have, yeah, you have a lot of education and training, and you got a lot of stuff going on.

Destiny Morris  
Thank you. I'm excited about it. I just graduated from grad school last month. So I'm fresh into the field. But while I was in grad school, I got EMDR certified and then first responder certified. The first responder certified was an online program through Academy hour I'm not sure if you've heard of it. It's pretty popular as far as I'm clinicians go. And so it enables me to work in and alongside of police departments and fire departments in my area, as well as working for their organization via zoom for anyone that's in the state of California. So that would be mainly supporting first responders themselves. I haven't been able to delve into that yet. I'm kind of in a waiting period right now. But what I have been able to do is EMDR. Are you familiar with EMDR at all?

Jerry D. Lund
I am very personally Yeah. I've had four sessions of it.

Destiny Morris  
Really? Did you like it?

Jerry D. Lund
I really did like it. I did, like not talking so much. That's what I really like. And it was just a, it was just so much different than I thought it was going to be. I think we're all have these big fears of just maybe going in talking to somebody and because we don't want to talk right about our feelings in the first place. This is probably why we're there, you know, in itself. And I think just it was just the the process of just letting my thoughts flow, I loved.

Destiny Morris  
Yeah, yeah, I love that about EMDR as well. It's supposed to be one of when I believe it is one of the most gentle ways to approach trauma. So just like normal or talk therapy, what we're very used to it sit down and tell me your experience. And when you tell someone your experience, especially people that are talking about you know, combat, or you know, on the job, things that are very traumatizing when you have to retell it your body we lives it you experience medically or physically, all of those feelings all over again, when you have to say it. So with EMDR it's like you said less talking and processing and internally. So you don't have to go through those experiences again.

Jerry D. Lund
Yeah, what's your thoughts of your body storing trauma in itself?

Destiny Morris  
Yeah, whoo. That's a good one. Um, it does. So there's a really great book, it's called the Body Keeps the Score. And I fully believe in it, and I know it myself that we may or may not recognize it. It just depends how in tune you are with your body, but your body has a memory. So every single experience that you've ever been through since you were born, your body holds on to it and remembers it, just like a muscle memory. So for example, someone that went through, you know, trauma as a child, maybe mentally, they are not going to remember because our brains are smart enough to shut out memories to protect us. Our bodies don't do that, our bodies to hold and store trauma. So people, even thinking first responders, you have to be in this hyper vigilant state always. And that's what makes you good at your job is you have to be on all the time. If you're not on that's when accidents happen. You know, that's when bad things happen. Yeah. What are your job. So when you're on all the time you carry this tension, a lot of people, I touch my shoulders because a lot of people carry it in their shoulders and their neck. Some people carry it in their stomachs. Some people carry it in their jaws or a tense tenseness in their jaw, and you just get so used to the way your body feels because that's part of your everyday life. But if more people were to stop and just check in with their bodies and go, whoo, I'm so tense right now. Like I need to take a minute and either use breathing techniques or whatever their coping skill is to take some of that tension out of their body. That would help a lot of people that are struggling with mental health issues as first responders or people in general, anybody? It would help kind of create a bridge between "I'm good right now and oh, no, I'm going down a hole." Which is not okay. It's kind of a halfway when you check in with yourself.

Jerry D. Lund
Why do you why do you think that's like a controversial thing? Do you think people don't believe that any thoughts?

Destiny Morris  
That our body holds center?

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah, or keeps the score or holds like pulls that trauma? 

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Destiny Morris 
I don't know if I've heard it being controversial, just because it's for me. It's like, Duh, when I'm stressed, I feel it. I think if anyone's feeling like that's not accurate, it's maybe because they don't personally have the skill of being in tune with their body. If you are not taught that as a child, or you are taught that, you know, we don't check in with our bodies, it you know, our body just does its thing, then you might naturally not even recognize when you're stressed. I know a lot of people, especially in sessions will come in like this. And I'll say, "Hey, you know, you're looking really stressed. You notice your shoulders are up like that?" They have no idea. "No, I didn't I didn't notice that." 'Well, let's take a deep breath and see what happens." And you see their shoulders drop. And I'm like, did you feel that release? Like did you know that was happening? So I didn't maybe enlighten me on more controversial things about it. But I'm wondering if they have awareness. 

Jerry D. Lund  
Well, maybe controversial might not be the right word. I think just there's there's a group of people that probably wouldn't believe that that's just like, oh, you know, where's the science to prove that, but I think there is some out there to prove that.

Destiny Morris  
Oh, yeah, absolutely. There's tons of science evidence based. Lots of research on mindfulness meditation, on breath work, or using the breath to release tension in our bodies. I mean, even little things such as like exercise, there's tons of evidence that shows that exercise releases that stress in our bodies. Yeah, really. But I could see to where people would be like, Oh, I don't want to do any of that fluffy breathing stuff.

Jerry D. Lund  
Right. Right. That's that maybe that's what I mean by controversial people just don't want to believe that that's actually a thing or could possibly be happening to them.

Destiny Morris  
Yeah. Yeah, that's super common. Very common with a lot of, like I said, people that didn't grow up in that in the era that we're in right now. I like to call the Tiktok era, but, you know, younger generation, they're growing up with Instagram, all over the place. Mental health therapy is cool. Take care of yourself, do these meditations and, you know, all these different things are very, I guess, popular right now they're becoming more popular. But if we look back to probably the majority of who I see are older people that are now struggling with the trauma and the tension they hold on to their whole life because they haven't had these outlets to, you know, unpack it before. These are the people that are more like, I'm not doing a breathing exercise. Like why would I do a meditation? Why would I do yoga? And we see that with a lot of first responders. And that is one of the biggest things of why a lot of first responders don't reach out for mental health stuff.

Jerry D. Lund  
Right. I think it's probably we may feel like it's a weakness, they grew in maybe the generation I grew up in, you know, just those things. Emotions were weak, at least, I don't know that my mom taught me that. But just some of the things that happened in my childhood, I had to be strong for a lot of different things. And so emotion really wasn't, you know, an option. For me, it was, it's something that's came through, I think some other traumas that I've gone through in my life, I finally had to, like, become more in tune with my body and, you know, be more mindfulness, about the way I conduct my life and, you know, work life balance, because it's just right, any balance, and when it's off, it's it's often it ruins other portions of your life, I guess, maybe not ruin is right word, but you know, throws it off balance.

Destiny Morris  
Yeah, into it, for sure. 

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah. So as far as the EMDR therapy, what are there? Is there. Can you explain a little bit more about it kind of like maybe some little more science behind it?

Destiny Morris   
Yeah, absolutely. I think it's something or a lot of people don't know what it is. It's very popular in California right now. So it's like that hot topic of "Oohh, I want EMDR therapist". Which if I wanted, that's one of the first reasons why I was like, I gotta get certified. But now that I see what it does, and like, oh, my gosh, so let me explain that a little bit. Um, EMDR stands for Eye Movement, Desensitization and Reprocessing. I have a little note right here. So if I'm looking down, that's why it was created by Francine Shapiro in 1988. And basically, it's based on the idea that negative thoughts and feelings and behaviors are the result of unprocessed memories. So the way that I'm that I do it, and most people will do it, but there's different ways. There's something called bilateral bilateral stimulation, which I'm sure you've experienced as a client. You said Yeah, yeah. Did you do the the buzzers or did you do tapping?

Jerry D. Lund  
I did the buzzers. And I think from what I've heard other people's experience, actually come to light, the light and the buzzers preferably.

Destiny Morris  
I do as well. It's really calming on the nervous system actually. It's so funny, whenever I hand them to people, they go the first thing, almost everything. Are these going to shock me? Yeah. Well, not doing shock therapy, you're fine. So bilateral stimulation, there's a few ways to activate it. So there's buzzers that you hold in your left and your right hand and they buzz back and forth at either a slower fast rate. And you can control the intensity, you tell the therapist up or down. And what that does, as its engaging the left and the right side of the brain, the side that processes facts, and then the side that processes emotion. And it creates a bridge between the two. Also, when we're remembering if you think about it, if you're remembering something in your time, someone a story, your eyes often look up in your head. And you'll notice that they shift back and forth. That's something naturally that our brain and our eyes connect to do when we're remembering something. So in the process of moving back and forth like this, which is also created with the buzzers because you're moving the left and right side, which moves your eyes as well as your brain. It helps you to process your trauma and your memories and accepts the part of your brain that is not accessible usually. So when we're talking about trauma, and maybe you're telling me about you know, a combat story, you might not have memories that come up clearly. Because that's what our brains do. We protect ourselves by not remembering. But with EMDR. It helps us to get that unconscious part of our memory and access it. And it's very gentle, like you said, so instead of you telling me about it, I would put the buzzers in your hand. And I would ask you to either close your eyes or find a point where you're relaxing your gaze. And I would ask you just to think about the image that is really difficult for you. Maybe you have a specific image about a trauma. And then I have a list of cognitions and negative and positive. So just for an example. There's a bunch on this page in front of me. One is I am to blame. Another one is I am trapped. Another one is I am stupid. I do not belong. And I have my clients look at this list and pick out the one if not make one for themselves if it's not on here that fits with their feelings. About that memory or that image, and then I have them hold the buzzers. And due to the reprocessing with the buzzers back and forth of bilateral stimulation, it helps you to access the feelings and the truth behind this, that memory that you have. So, to wrap all that up, because I know that's a lot, um, which is why a lot of people don't know. Like, here, there's so much more that I could say about it. But basically, the end result is, and you should be able to get to a point where you have this very triggering memory. And instead of it triggering you, you should be able to remember it and not have those negative emotions, and come to a peace about it. So it really helps us come to a peace with trauma. And it helps us come to at peace with triggering emotions. And then it helps us to process it better. So when we store these traumatic experiences, if you think about it, we put them in like little shelves, we kind of tuck them away. What EMDR does is we kind of pull it out of the shelf, and we dust that shelf off. And then when we put it back, we put it back as like a happy, not happy, but you're okay with it kind of a memory, if that makes sense. It's not held all these yucky emotions and maybe even like physical reactions that we have to memories does I cover?

Jerry D. Lund 
No, that's good. That's good. I've heard had to explain a couple of different ways. I like that one. And that's and that's very true. It's just like a plus buzzers and stuff. It just it was really weird. If I could say relaxing for me, in my, in my experience.

Destiny Morris 
Yeah, use a lot of different kinds of therapy in it as well. So it uses that mindfulness meditation that a lot of people find relaxing, I use it a lot in my practice. So one of the first things we do with EMDR is we we do like a meditation with the buzzers, we feel the buzzers and we get in tune with your body. And, you know, notice any tension let's we scan our bodies from our head all the way to our toes where you're holding tension, then instead of judging that tension, let's just accept that's where our body is right now. And let's try to use our breath to release that tension. So there are very relaxing components to EMDR it's not something to be afraid of. I think a lot of people are scared of it.

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah. We're always scared of the unknown, unfortunately. Have you heard of a therapy called ART?

Destiny Morris  
I have, but only recently. So I'm not enough to probably speak on it. But I know it's very similar to EMDR. Right?

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah, I, I went to a peer mentoring certification class. And they talked about EMDR how it's very popular and that they wouldn't let anybody really go to any other therapist that did EMDR or ART. So those were there were they would funnel all the first responders to those type of people. I heard of like EMDR, but on steroids. That's, that's how they explained it. I'm kind of curious. I want to go check it out, honestly. And yeah, experience it for myself.

Destiny Morris  
Yeah, I'm curious, too. I wonder. I don't know enough about it. Like I said, I know that EMDR is an evidence based, it's backed by science. By studies. It's a type of exposure therapy. So that's something that's very concrete that we can use in our, in our practices of therapist. I'm not really sure about the other one, just because I'm not familiar with it, of how that works, especially in different states, you know, because it's different.

Jerry D. Lund  
Right, right. What else can you tell us about self care that first responders should know? Or their or their families?

Destiny Morris  
Yeah, there's a lot there. So my first thing is, I always tell my clients, first, your first care. self care is not the same for everybody. I really like being outside, and maybe you don't. And maybe self care for me is taking a walk, and maybe self care for you is turning on a movie. So the first thing it's very simple when it comes to self care is finding what you like finding what comforts you or what makes you happy. So it's different for everyone. So I can't tell you Oh, go get a facial and have a bubble bath. That might not be relaxing for everyone. Self care can be, it doesn't even have to be like this experience. It can be taking a shower and doing your laundry or spending time with your kids for first responders. I believe that that time that you if you commute or you don't commute, that time you come home to your family, that little bit of quiet that you get by yourself. I believe that is so important for their self care. Because if you don't have that, then you build resentment for your family. You know, your kids are rushing in your wife wants to talk about a million things. So that quiet right there alone seems to be a very common self care usage for a lot of first responders.

Jerry D. Lund 
Yeah, I, I only live just a few minutes away from where I work so that there's not much quiet time in between those two things. But a lot of times I find myself just listening either to something I probably wouldn't normally listen to. And or just like listening to just nothing just absolute. Just quiet. Go ahead. Sorry, I didn't mean to cut you off. I know there's this kind of a, you know, you're talking about that. Maybe that decompression time of coming home and stuff. Is there a thing I maybe could do, or as a first responder to this, maybe set myself up for coming into my household? Maybe just some maybe some tips?

Destiny Morris  
Yeah, yeah. Well, I'm thinking from my perspective as a partner. 

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah. So that's great. 

Destiny Morris   
And I've had this conversation multiple times over and over with my partner, just because it is so important. So let me go back and forth, because there's the two perspectives here. So the perspective of first responders, you're coming off your shift, I like to think of it as like a defrosting turkey. Well, then when you come home, you're defrosting. And there's a period of time that you need to defrost as a first responder, because like I said, you're hyper vigilant, that's what makes you good at your job. A lot of times you are closed off to emotions, which also makes you very good at your job. Because you can't, you know, be on call and just falling apart. But that's what makes a first responder good at what they do is having that kind of protective shell over their themselves in their emotions. So if you don't have enough time to yourself, like you said, if you live very close to your house, that can be a big struggle when you come in the door, and your wife wants to talk and snuggle in love. And you don't know how to shift between frozen turkey to defrost. So communication is the biggest thing on both sides. That is huge, huge if your wife or your partner doesn't understand this, about first responders and a lot don't because I had to learn that one the hard way, by being disappointed or feeling rejected from him, because he didn't want to come home and talk and snuggle. And I've been waiting for weeks to see him. And I've been so excited for him to walk through that door. And all I want to do is, you know, and embrace him. But if I don't understand that he needs that time, then I'm going to take it personally and feel very rejected and have resentment in my relationship. So for a first responder, communicating that with your partner, hey, you know, this is what happens when I come home. And maybe they don't realize it. So recognizing it. And that's part of sharing more about mental health is to first responders is they also should know what's going on with them so that they can educate their family and their partners on how best to love them. So for instance, my boyfriend when he comes home, sometimes he'll tell me, like, he just needs some quiet. I'm a talker. And there are times where I've felt offended, where I'm like, Oh, I've been waiting, you know, for you to come home. And I have all these things to tell you. And I'm excited to see you. Like I feel so dismissed. But I realize that it's not, it's not him, you know, it's part of this lifestyle and having that space because once he has that space to kind of either listen to music on the way home, or maybe sit in his truck for a few extra minutes before he comes in. Or tells me beforehand, hey, I had a really hard shift. I really just need to like get in the shower and have some quiet. If you have children like hey, can you you know, I don't know do an activity with the kids until I decompress a little bit to come back. That is important to communicate and then as the first responder partner, not taking it personally, and knowing that we are going to have that time to reconnect. But right now it's so important for me to show my love by doing this. So that's a way to reframe it instead of Oh, I feel like I can't share with him. Instead feeling I love him so much that my way of showing that love is by respecting your needs. And then when we respect our partner's needs, they respect ours most of the time. There's that flow back and forth of you know asking each other what are your needs when you get home? And then as a first responder asking your partner when I get off my shift what are your needs? What can I do to help around the house or with the kids or what can I do to make you feel loved and secure while I'm home for this amount of time?

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah, I think my wife just can honestly just look at my face and she can tell if I slept or not. And then she just knows the rest. Because I don't, yeah, I don't sleep I like it's just hard. I have hard time dealing with, you know, the transition of coming home and kind of like leaving one case at work to so to speak, and then coming home to another chaos at home, and just being tired. And I know I'm short and snappy, I'm not loving all those things, right, that you're you're wanting to fill from, you know, your first responder coming home and you're not feeling well. That's, I think those are like, very great and spot on tips. 

Destiny Morris  
Yeah, and that's okay, I think it's important to remember that we're just human, you know, and we come in short and snappy. And we have tips, and we get frustrated and disappointed as partners and as the first responders. And that's everyone has that. That's not special. Just the first responder partners, every relationship has that. And there's this amount of grace that we carry through in our relationships, where I love you so much, you're being a jerk. But, but I understand it, and I'm going to give you that space that you need right now. Whether it's you know, sleep, which can be really feel like it's disappointing when you have a couple days off, and you want to do stuff and hang out, go on a bike ride or go to the beach, but your partner needs to sleep. So then you're just sitting Michael.

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah, I mean, for sure. The wildland lifestyle of you know, being out on a fire, getting two days of rest and then going back back to work. I'm like, those two days of just are, are almost more brutal. I think sometimes it just coming home probably for both couples have like, I want to sleep. I want some normalcy in my life. You know, as a first responder come home, and you know, you I miss you so much. I want to talk to you and hang out with you do these things. And it's just like, meshing that together for two days is got to be extremely tough.

Destiny Morris  
Yeah, I've learned to just really embrace each hour that we have. Because it's, you know, some people will say only two days, and I like to reframe it as, Are you kidding me? He gets two days home. That's like Christmas. Two days, it's so good. But yeah, there's a lot that, you know, we have to really work together to meet each other's needs in those two days, which comes from a lot of communication. You know, me saying like, hey, I really just want to watch a movie together tonight, you know, or him saying, hey, I really need to get a good amount of sleep. So that I'm good to go when I go back out. And then there's that transition to I think a lot of us forget about is the night before. The night before my guy goes back on shift. He always sleeps like crap. And it's because you think is that normal like that means I sleep like crap too. I'm just like, man, one time and you're out. But I think we forget that there's also not just a defrosting period, but there's also a period of, you know, they're really gearing up to close themselves off emotionally. So a lot of times, I you know, as a first responder, partner, I want to connect emotionally, but he doesn't have the capacity because he's already starting to prepare himself to go back into, I guess, combat, you know, or line of duty. So it's, I think that coming into this as a new couple or in new marriage or new relationship. You have to learn a lot of things and learn how you understand and process and deal with that in order to have a healthy relationship. And if you don't, then it is just a nightmare. I feel like I get a lot of messages from a lot of fire girlfriends and wives that didn't know what they were kind of stepping into and just feeling like, shoot, where was my instruction manual on how to support and how to go through this? Because it's not easy. You know, it's not easy.

Jerry D. Lund 
Yeah, for me, I have like that gearing up process, I kind of like, I set all my stuff out that I need to take to work and, you know, just some of those just niceties that I like to pack and everything and have my clothes out, make sure you know, shave and do all these things. I'm ready to go for work. So there is definitely a gearing up process. And it happens, you know, probably sooner than I think, you know, I tried to go to bed like nine o'clock, you know, the night before I go on shift and probably so like gearing up is actually coming even earlier and the anticipation of the gearing up, you know, am I gonna have time to gear up, you know, with all the family things going on and stuff like that. So I could see that. I'm glad you like you talked about that, because maybe I didn't recognize it as maybe so much as myself that maybe that gearing up process is actually happening even sooner. And maybe some people out there recognize that they never even knew that was happening.

Destiny Morris  
Yeah, yeah, that's what's important too, is that your partner has some method of relaxing when they get home. So like, for instance, like my boyfriend, first thing he does is gets in the shower, because he sounds like a chimney and a shower. Um, and then in comfy clothes, and then usually TV that's that's our kind of decompressing we turn on Netflix and just veg. And then after a little bit, then we, you know, chat more and, and he shares about his shift and I share about my life. And we come back together very slowly, I like to think of it as like a very slow, like melting together process. What happens too quick, that's when we get short and snippy, and feelings get hurt, because we're rushing into it together. And it's just not it's not time. And the same with him leaving, you know, I, I have to learn that it's not me, I'm not not wanted, I'm not not loved. It's the fact that in order for him to be good at what he does, he has to be able to put that, you know, put his stuff out for work, make sure he gets enough sleep, make sure he has you know, things packed and laundry done and, you know, in bed and ready to go and kind of starting to close yourself off emotionally sometimes. Another component that's important, too, that I think we forget is when our spouses are on shift or on duty, and we call them on the phone, or we FaceTime. And we maybe tell them something that's emotional, or something, we're struggling with, we're frustrated we do that, you know, we call oh my gosh, babe, like this happened at work today. And I feel so frustrated, we don't get the reaction we want. And the reason being is because they're in that mode of emotionally not being able to meet those needs. And that's, that's a fact. And it's a crappy fact, when you're the receiving end of it. But that's why it's so important to understand it, that you're not going to have those emotional needs being met when they are on duty. Because they are physically usually unable to turn it on and off like that. There's a process that happens in order to shift between turning it on and off. So just recognizing that if I tell my partner something and I'm looking for emotional validation, I might not have my needs met in that moment, in something as a first responder that you can do is say, hey, like, I know, you're really upset right now. I hear that you're upset. I would love to talk about this more when I get home with you. And you're kind of tabling it so you're not dismissing the person but you're just tabling it for now when you get home I'd love to talk about this in person. Like I want to be there for you physically right now, you know I can't.

Jerry D. Lund 
Yeah, after am thought a little bit, I'll be there for you. I want to talk about something that I've heard you use this a couple times since I've been talking to you and I really like it, you use the word reframing. So I think that's really important. I mean, do you can go into that like, why why is reframing so important?

Destiny Morris  
We get stuck in this mindset of this is how it's supposed to be you know, this is what marriage is supposed to look like. This is what my relationship is supposed to be. This is what my responder my partner is supposed to react to me as and we I mean culture gives that to us right books and movies and Instagram and in you know your partner comes swinging through the door like wow, I missed you so much. What can I do for you? How do I you know with flowers in their hand? Um we have to reframe constantly in order to be flexible, or to be resilient. Resilience, one of my favorite words, and that's why I chose that for my instagram handle is, I believe that resiliency really comes, which is like a swing, if you think about it, someone that's not resilient is very like tight and is easily broken, and not easily repaired. Someone that's resilient kind of sways with things. So in order to be resilient, you have to continually reframe. So in my head, maybe I have this idea, this is what a relationship looks like. But I reframe my train of thought, or the way that I see my relationship of Wow, actually, this is a really beautiful type of relationship that a lot of people don't get to have. Like, it's like Christmas every two weeks, I don't get sick of my partner, I am always so excited to see him. And I also love to take those two weeks to really think about what my needs are and what our relationship is doing and what things need to change in a relationship. Outside of first responders, you're around each other so much that you don't really get a lot of that time apart. 

Jerry D. Lund  
Right? 

Destiny Morris  
So I like to, I guess reframe the, the good side of being a first responder partner, and I see it on social media so much, especially with like wives pages, it's a lot of complaining. And I do it as well, because it's it's not easy. But there are so many highlights of being in a first responder relationship or having a family with the first responder that I don't think get enough attention.

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah, I think you're very right, you're very spot on. Resilience. Let's go back to that word a little bit. Can I become more resilient? I mean, I've been I've been doing this job like 30 plus years, and it can still be resilient. Or, as all my resilience wore out, am I just rigid down and stuck in unflexible?

Destiny Morris  
I mean, that's a choice. So yes, and no. There are people that are very rigid. I'm not thinking even like agnostically personality. People with personality disorders are extremely rigid into the thought process. There is no way in any, any possibility that you could change their train of thought. Therapists stuck on that train. And that's where they're going. Um,

Jerry D. Lund  
Is that a type A personality? No, I'm just kidding.

Destiny Morris  
Borderline Personality Disorder, and then your personality disorders, but they're, I guess, type A as well. Plus most people have a little window of a being able to be more resilient. When you recognize that you're not happy. Whether it be in your personal life or in your marriage, that's when you have a window that opens for you to be more resilient. So you have everyone has the ability to change, you could change when you're on you know, 100 years old, you, you have the ability to change, you have the ability to take in new insight. But just because you have the ability to do so doesn't mean you're going to you know, right. So it's up to you.

Jerry D. Lund  
Do you think EMDR helps people keep the resiliency or maybe bring some of that back?

Destiny Morris  
Yeah, absolutely. Because you're switching your negative thoughts or very, like, rigid, so maybe you have this really rigid thought of, I cannot trust anyone. I'm looking at my list right here. Maybe that's you just have this thought I cannot trust anyone I've been so hurt. And I have this experience that hurt me so much. very rigid. Nope. No one well EMDR does is it helps us wipe away that I cannot trust anyone and change that into I can trust or I am safe. So absolutely, it broadens that window of having more resiliency because you are, again, reframing the negative and switching it out for something a different perspective. I like to think of it this way. And I tell my teenagers that I work with it. I have two analogies. Therapy is like you fixing your hair. And in the mirror, it looks great to you. But I'm going this way and I can see the back of your head and I'm like, Ooh, you missed a spot you like the back your heads looking funky. And it's because I have a different perspective. Or another analogy I use is it's like being in a house, you're sitting in house and you're looking out a window and you have that perspective was the therapist, I'm looking at a different window. And that's a whole nother perspective. So when I can offer a different perspective to you that maybe you didn't even think about, that's when you become more resilient, that's when you become less rigid. And that's why therapy is important. And it's not just talking to a friend or family member, because we are trained to look at all angles and then offer those angles to you. Of what sits right with you. You know what you want to grab on to and hold onto.

Jerry D. Lund  
Why do we sometimes get stuck in like a perspective? Like as why do I get stuck in like looking at things the same way and not like being open to look at a different way? Is it just by my choice?

Destiny Morris 
No, I don't think that you're probably not not open to it. It's just that's your view. It's like a horse with the blinders on. 

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah.

Destiny Morris  
You can't see anything else. And you won't see anything else unless someone else offers a different perspective for you. I don't think it's people not wanting to look around and see a different perspective. Man, if we could do that ourselves. You would, but it's literally like that spot in the back of your head that you just can't see.

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah. Yeah, I think do people sometimes just weren't, you know, have those blinders on? Just because maybe they don't want to, like, open themselves up to another perspective, or something, or maybe show like a little crack, that they're fragile or something and then have someone, you know, hurt them or something means something along the lines of that.

Destiny Morris  
Yeah, it's really wonderful. It's scary. I mean, therapy, in general, can be very scary. And I think that's why a lot of people don't jump to it right away, is because it's an extremely vulnerable experience to let someone into your house as a picture analogy, and see through a window, yeah, I don't want you in my house looking through another window. That's I don't know, you, you know, inviting someone into your space to see a different perspective. It's extremely vulnerable. And it's scary. And a lot of people don't want that. Because they would rather be fixed and rigid in their thought process. And they don't want any other options there. That's just how it is. I tend to think those people are not the happiest, you know, especially if they're have rigid thoughts, and they tend to be more negative.

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah, I can see that. Maybe one barrier for people coming in to get therapy is they think that, you know, if I share these emotions, or these thoughts to someone, I'm having therapy with them, they're gonna judge me.

Destiny Morris 
Mm hmm. Yeah, that's normal. I mean, it happens in every conversation, right? You might leave this or I might leave this and go, Ooh, I talk more. So me after, "Wow, I shouldn't have said that. Or I was nervous." We do that we judge ourselves. And we think about how other people perceive us. One of the things that I like to encourage my clients is, I will ask them, What about our relationship? What do you think about me as a therapist? You know, how do you feel as a client, and things come up, you know, things come up, if they're open, and if they're willing to work through your relationship, it's really a small picture of what their bigger relationships are. So a lot of times, I can pick up a lot on a person with how they, how they are with me, because I am able to see that that's probably how they also react to interact with other people around them. So I always encourage you, if you're feeling judged, ask me. A lot of people will make assumptions like, Oh, you're just judging me right now. Ask me ask me what I think about you. And I love to tell people what I think about.

Jerry D. Lund  
That's awesome. I like it. I like it. I think that's, uh, I don't know, if maybe if every therapist was like that, you know, that would just open up maybe some more conversation. Because sometimes, like you're saying judgments, you know, they think judgments are happening, or I said this, and she took it the wrong way, or vice versa. And then there's now this little barrier rift.

Destiny Morris 
Yeah. And it's okay to tell your therapist when you're mad. It's gonna come up because you're working through some really, you know, vulnerable things. So if you start to feel, you know, like, these things are coming up towards them, it's important to be like, hey, you know, I'm feeling really irritated with you. I didn't even want to come. One of my, the biggest things and I think a lot of people do is they ghost their therapists. They don't call don't show up because they get irritated. They don't like what happened in the session, or maybe the therapist, you know, we are humans before we're therapists. So maybe I didn't understand completely what you were telling me, maybe I was off. Well, if you just leave that relationship, it's teaching you that it's okay to leave relationships whenever they don't work out for you. But if you were to and you don't to stay if your therapist is bad, I'm not saying that. But I'm saying if something happened, it's really important to go back to your therapist, at least one more time, and have that closure and saying, Hey, I didn't like it when you did that. Or even being able to speak up and say, Hey, what you're the, you know, technique that you're using with me. It's really not working for me. I don't feel like I'm improving. I like to think of finding a therapist like speed dating. You got to find one that works for you. And if you don't connect with your therapist, On a very like real, personable human to human level, and you don't feel like you would be able to open up to them, then you got to keep looking for another therapist, don't settle for someone that you just don't connect with. You won't be able to work done.

Jerry D. Lund 
That makes perfect sense. In the first responder world I know there's so much we could talk about, is there something that we haven't talked about that maybe it would be helpful to share?

Destiny Morris 
We talked about a lot of what I mean, there's so much.

Jerry D. Lund 
In this, what about just you know, some of your, like, personal experiences of just, we talked about, you know, the fine and fine and other, is there anything around that kind of maybe setting up a maybe some conversation? Maybe is some rules or something like that, or something to follow as, you know, us maybe a some suggestions as a spouse or first responder conversations. And like we talked about, you know, being at work, you know, maybe, you know, setting the expectation, yeah, I hear you, but you know, I just don't have the emotional capacity to deal with that. So you're anything like something around those lines?

Destiny Morris  
Oh, yeah, I was just thinking another thing popped in my head of a lot of times when our partners see very gruesome things at work, they may not want to come home and talk about their shift for a couple of reasons. Not because they don't want to share that part of you, but they're protecting you. So I don't know if you can relate to this, but you are protecting your spouse from experiencing in seeing second hand, the things that you experienced in your shift. And it's okay for you to come home and tell your spouse or your partner, they had a hard day, and I don't want to talk about it. And leave it at that. And it's okay to leave it at that and as, as a partner, know that they're doing that out of out of love. And also know that, like, when you come home and you talk about your shift, you're reliving it again, that's not what you want to do on your days off, right? Yes, there might be some stuff that you want to share with your wife or your partner about specifically what you did in your day. But not always. And that's okay. And that's something that we just can't take personally, because it is an act of love. You know, for our spouses.

Jerry D. Lund 
Yeah, this is just making me think about a lot of things I could have done earlier on in, you know, my career with is just like maybe sitting up some, I won't call ground rules of just how to share conversations of you know, like these, like, what, what we've talked about these expectation getting these out, in the open and early on how things kind of evolved back and forth at home and at work. And I think we've probably both on both sides be a lot more happy and expectations would be met a lot easier.

Destiny Morris  
Yeah, yeah. Cuz that's where disappointment comes from. disappointment comes from when we have high expectations that are unrealistic, that are not talked about, and we usually make them up on our own, you know, relationship takes two people. So we got to relate to that. But you got to put the bar where it actually is in that happens by very honest communication. And even as a partner, I'm not saying suck it up, and, you know, be ready when your husband's ready for you like, it's okay for you to say, I've been really struggling this week, while you were gone. I've been missing you. And I've been feeling lonely. You know, I'm, I'm fine that I'm a very strong person. But there are weeks when I struggle. And I find a lot of validation for my feelings when I share them. And then my partner can say, you know, what, what do you need when I come home, what will make you feel loved? And that's okay, you don't have to be strong on either sides all of the time. That's ridiculous to think that way you can be you can experience loneliness, and it's okay to accept where you are right there. The danger is when we live in it, when that's all we train ourselves to know is, you know, loneliness and then resentment. It's just not a happy, healthy environment to grow in.

Jerry D. Lund 
Yeah, and the first responder can live in that same thing. It's just not the spouse. The first responder can live in that same space too. 

Destiny Morris 
Yes, yeah. For both. Absolutely.

Jerry D. Lund  
 Yeah. Yeah. And what happens if you live them, if both of you are living in that same space, I'm gonna guess this relationship is just gonna just crumble apart and get toxic.

Destiny Morris  
Yeah. And if you have children in that space, then you're really you know, the energy in your household is off, because it's a lot. We don't have children. So I can't speak on a personal level, but I can speak from knowing other fire spouses or police spouses with children. It's not just a shift between two lives with yourself. Your shifting with your whole family, so your children are also doing this shifting. It's so important. Children are extremely, you know, everyone can be resilient. But children if they're taught that this is the way that we do things in a very healthy manner, this is our you know, when dad's gone, this is what we do and Dad's home, we try to keep it the same, but this is what we do. They will shift with it. But if you have that, you know, loneliness, oh, why is mom crying all the time? Or Why is dad so crabby when he comes in the door? You know, being able to kind of communicate and fix those things when they start to happen so that it doesn't seep into your children having this, you know, experience growing up in like a safe space where they know, we know what's going to be coming their way.

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah, I really like that. Okay, Destiny, this is for the final question. It's really a tough one. What impact do you want to make in the world? And I'm gonna I'll narrow it down. I'm gonna start now on this question down in just in maybe in the first responder world. 

Destiny Morris    
Hmm. I like that question. Oh, so much. And so I'm, like, ready to be like, I'm ready to go. That's awesome. I'm opening a private practice, hopefully the end of this year. Um, yeah. And I'm excited to be working and doing right now I'm in a waiting period, which is really hard. But to answer your question, in the first responder field, I would love to be able to educate and normalize and provide a very normal, comfortable experience of what therapy is to reframe again, that word, what we see mental health as, like, I know, a lot of people say like, oh, break the stigma, break the stigma, which I think they're doing. But I would personally love to be, you know, hands on in this by going to academies, people that are, you know, in their first time in an academy, going in and talking about this kind of things, providing therapy groups or fire wives. So that's definitely something that I want to start doing, where I'm providing these skills in this space. Because like I said, there's no instruction manual. There is not one I've looked, I remember desperately searching online when I first got in this relationship, like, ah, what do I do? What am I supposed to do? There's no rules here, you have to learn as you go. And that's painful, sometimes it hurts. I would love to make that process a little bit easier. And I would like to be accessible for people that need it. Because that's also a really hard thing is finding someone that understands you, I want to be that person that can look into a first responder eyes or first responder partners eyes and say, I understand what you're going through, because I also live that life. But I also have these set of tools that I can help you. And I can help provide a healthier life or help you deal with some of this stuff you're going through. So really, I want to come alongside these families and these first responders and create a healthier idea of what mental health looks like, rather than a stigmatized. Oh, don't go there. Because you'll look crazy, you know?

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah, yeah. No, that's awesome. I think, you know, you kind of set yourself up for something here, though, you might have to write a small little manual.

Destiny Morris   
Probably, with a lot of comedy.

Jerry D. Lund    
That's okay. That's okay. Comedy is also you know, a healing tool for my understanding.

Destiny Morris 
Absolutely. It's one of the top things I use in my sessions with my clients.

Jerry D. Lund  
Very good. Destiny, where can people find you?

Destiny Morris  
So I have a Instagram handle, it's @on_being_resilient. I also am working on a web page. It should be up in the next month, if not two months, and that will also be on my Instagram. And I have an email address. D as in my first name, Morris M-O-R-R-I-S number three at antioch a-n-t-i-o-c-h.edu (dmorris3@antioch.edu). Feel free to email me I'd love to have further conversation with anybody. And then as soon as I'm able to book sessions, I can take anyone in the state of California. So via zoom or in person.

Jerry D. Lund  
That's awesome. Well, I'm excited for you to start your own practice and what's going to be on this website.

Destiny Morris   
So it'll have a little bit more information about what I do. I also do animal assisted therapy. My dog is over here.

Jerry D. Lund  
Where it can we see a picture.

Destiny Morris  
She's on the carpet right next to me. Oh, so this is Honey. Oh, boy. Yeah. He's a miniature golden doodle. So she's hypoallergenic and she is doing schoolwork as well becoming a therapy animal so I use her in sessions right now. But I want to use her with first responders. He's are a lot with my working with addicts right now. But um, that is something that'll be on my website. So a little bit more about what animal assisted therapy is, what EMDR is. And then on that website, it will also be able to book sessions with me.

Jerry D. Lund 
Very cool. Yeah. Well, hopefully my wife won't watch the YouTube video portion of this and see her because she'll be like, "Yeah, we need that dog." She loves that type of dog. So

Destiny Morris 
it's popular dog right now.

Jerry D. Lund 
Yeah, but the interesting thing is the podcast I just recorded before you this morning, is a gentleman who's putting together a nonprofit. He has a nonprofit, and he's taking the therapy dogs around so it's a great service. You know, most most people love dogs and dogs know people. Probably better than people know people.

Destiny Morris 
Well, yeah, she feels people's feelings for sure.

Jerry D. Lund 
Yeah. Well, that's awesome. Well, thank you so much for being on today.

Destiny Morris  
Thank you for having me. It's been so nice.

Jerry D. Lund 
Yeah, it's been great.

Outro  
Thanks again for listening. Don't forget to rate and review the show wherever you access your podcasts. If you know someone that would be great on the show, please get a hold of our hosts Jerry Dean Lund through the Instagram handles at @jerryfireandfuel, or @enduringthebadgepodcast. Also by visiting the show's website, enduringthebadgepodcast.com for additional methods of contact and up to date information regarding the show. Remember the views and opinions expressed during the show, solely represent those of our host and the current episode's guest.

 

Destiny Morris

Associate Marriage and Family Therapist

I am an Associate Marriage and Family therapist in Westlake Village, Ventura, and Santa Barbara, California. I am first responder counselor certified, as well as EMDR certified. I have worked in a in-patient psychiatric hospital with active duty veterans and first responders, as well as with recovering addicts in a non-profit, couples, spouses of first responders, teens, and individuals who are working through trauma, anxiety, depression, and loss. I am a first responder partner to a wildland fire fighter and have navigated the ins and outs of what it means to support as well as understand them. I am passionate about spreading awareness of mental health as a method of preventative care as well as supporting families of first responders.