Dec. 22, 2021

How to Support Your Peer's- Author Jeffrey Denning

If you are looking for peer support, you may want to listen to this episode with Eric Hurst. Eric will discuss the importance of asking for help with a bit of humor to lighten up our mood. If you want to laugh a little but learn a lot, this podcast is for you!


If you are looking for peer support, you may want to listen to this episode with Eric Hurst. Eric will discuss the importance of asking for help with a bit of humor to lighten up our mood. If you want to laugh a little but learn a lot, this podcast is for you!

In this episode, you will learn:

⦁ Police tips (3:40);
⦁ Why is there an uptick of first responders' mental health problems during the holiday season (5:17);
⦁ Why is it so hard for people in dark places to reach out (8:04);
⦁ Do first responders aren't willing to admit that they need help (10:00);
⦁ How do we know who a good person is to reach out to or an effective method (18:15);
⦁ Happiness is derived from relationships (21:04);
⦁ What is peer support counseling (27:21);
⦁ Is there a correlation between first responders empathy and resilience (31:17);
⦁ The science behind our well-being (37:31); and
⦁ Additional tips to take care of ourselves physically and mentally (46:22)

 

Visit Jeffrey Denning's Website

Buy his books:

Warrior SOS: Military Veterans' Stories of Faith, Emotional Survival and Living with PTSD 

Our True Identity: Discovering Our Divine DNA 

The Work of Death 

Leaders Wanted: The Power of Influence, Professional Behavior and Moral Leadership 

Together Forever: Important Life Lessons for Families and Future Generations 

101 Police Tips: A Humorous Collection of Law Enforcement Advice to the Public

110 More Police Tips: Funny Advice for Those Who Obey the Law ... and for Those Who Don't 

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 Jeffrey 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  
Hi, everyone, and welcome to this week's episode of Enduring the Badge Podcast. I'm your host, Jerry Dean Lund. And I don't want you to miss an upcoming episode. So please hit that subscribe button. And while your phones out, please do me a favor and give us a review on iTunes or Apple podcast. It says, "Hey, this podcast has a great message and we should send it out to more people". So please take that 30 seconds to a minute to do that review. And just maybe by doing that, it will push this up into someone's podcast feed that really needs this message. Now let's jump into this next episode with my very special guest.

Jerry D. Lund  
Jeff Denning live from his car in Salt Lake City.

Jeffrey Denning    
Right on.

Jerry D. Lund    
Jeff is squeezing in some podcast time where he's out talking to the well not the public, the police departments in search, right.

Jeffrey Denning   
Yeah. So yesterday I was talking to with fire agencies and fire departments and then today with police departments, so yeah, good stuff. Yeah. All (inaudible)

Jerry D. Lund   
Right. We love that. Jeff, tell the audience a little bit about yourself. Don't be humble.

Jeffrey Denning    
I, so I'm working on my second master's degree in clinical mental health counseling. So I'll be able to start seeing people in my next month. So wow, by the time people hear this podcast already be doing it. Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, so that's good. So I have my first master's is in military Special Operations, low intensity, conflict, emphasis and terrorism. Kind of a big mouthful. And with an undergraduate and Law Enforcement Administration, I recently retired from Salt Lake City Police Department, but I was with the Dallas Police Department when 911 happened. I did some stuff the air marshals did some stuff overseas did a tour in Iraq with the Army Reserves. I have six kids and four dogs. Two refrigerators because you need it right? Found it.

Jerry D. Lund    
And how many of those are girls in the six kids?

Jeffrey Denning    
Four girls, so you don't have a lot of guns. I need to buy another one.

Jerry D. Lund    
That's awesome. Jeff, is he for ease a little bit humble? And you forgot to say, Aren't you an author of some books, Jeff?

Jeffrey Denning    
Oh, yeah, I guess I guess so. Yeah.

Jerry D. Lund    
What are those books?

Jeffrey Denning    
So my first one was a Warrior SOS. And yeah, we you know, we can talk about that a little bit more. But essentially, I just interviewed a handful of, of veterans from different different branches of service and a handful those guys were in law enforcement as well. Publish that. And then then some, you know, police humor, cuz you know, you've got to laugh, otherwise you'll cry. So I decided to, you know, put some of those together. And then a couple other just fun stuff that that's my that's my, that's my therapy. I like to write. Although I don't like writing papers for my master's program. That's awful.

Jerry D. Lund    
Yeah, I could imagine. So you have, so you have a couple other books as well.

Jeffrey Denning   
Ah, yeah. Gosh, I can't eat. Why don't you? Why don't you tell me?

Jerry D. Lund   
Well, I know your humor book is the 101 right? Well,

Jeffrey Denning    
Yeah. 101 Police Tips and then a follow on one 110 More Police Tips or something like that. This is those are just silly. Well, okay, I'll give you I'll give you a real shot. Because one time, one of the funniest things ever is like, you know, went to go see, find some people who were being assaulted and went to the park. And I walk up in somebody points to the bathrooms. And so I go to the park in the bathrooms and I hear some noises that wasn't fighting. Let me just put it that way. So I knock on the door and say, Hey, police come on out. And this guy says, "Leave us alone". Anyway, I get them out. I get the I get them separated to make sure that their acts were consensual. And and the lady she tells me I said, "You know, you guys probably shouldn't be having sex in the, in the bathroom here in the park, you know?" And she, she says, "Well, we were having sex. He were he was just inspecting my cervix". You know, the funny things that first responders get to enjoy, and I laughed about that for an hour. It was

Jerry D. Lund    
Yeah, I bet. Well, the thing I want you to know is Jeff, he's an accomplished writer. He's written about several different things. And as you can tell, he's about ready well through it's got a lot of schooling and stuff. So he's a very knowledgeable guy, and he's not just knowledgeable, but you have some personal experiences behind these things that we're going to talk about today.

Jeffrey Denning    
Yeah, yeah. You know, the school of hard knocks, really, that's where a lot of us go to. Or our education?

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah. Well, we're gonna help people right with that today with maybe not going to so many of those classes of the school of hard knocks in what you have, right? Oh, the audience today. So I want to start out with, you know, there's a lot of mental health challenges that first responders deal with, and we're moving in to the holidays. And in your experience, do you? I mean, I think a lot of people listening probably know this, but don't we see a lot of uptick in, you know, first responder problems, you know, mental health problems this time of year?

Jeffrey Denning   
You know, I've read a lot of studies that said that, that's the case, I've seen a couple of studies that say is, it's kind of general, I'll tell you my personal experiences. I, I've, I've seen it go sky high. And I think sometimes, you know, in the winter months, it gets a little more challenging, you know, the sun's not out as much, maybe depends if you're working the night shift or whatever. But, you know, the sun might not be out. So you know, you get some, some mood regulations, but holidays can be super stressful. Sometimes it can bring back bad memories or difficult memories, or, you know, if people lost somebody, you know, missing family members. So some grief, you know, yeah, I'll tell you, when you first said that, it reminded me of a buddy of mine, who implemented a suicide plan. And it was in December. Luckily, you know, you can't keep when somebody is an imminent harm to themselves or others, you got to, you got to you can't keep that a secret. And we didn't, thankfully, and, you know, somebody in with another agency, was able to spot his car, find him and stop. And he, he decided to get in this car and, and drive south on the interstate. And he said, When I run out of gas, I'm just gonna pull, reset and kill myself. And, you know, it was, to me, it was divine, divine intervention. And he even told me, he's like, you know, you know, I'm not a religious guy. But he goes that was divine that that the very last Trooper from before leaving civilization was able to spot this car and, and it was good. It was wonderful. And, and he tells a story. He's, I've been with him, as he's told a bunch of more police recruits as well as in service stuff and helping other people. And, you know, everybody has hard times, and sometimes we just, it's hard to reach out to your friend, your family, your best friend peer support. But you have got to do it. But taking that step is super hard. Luckily for him, his car didn't run out of gas. Luckily for him, and for us. Yes. Still with us. Yeah, what a great guy. I think about him off. And actually.

Jerry D. Lund   
Yeah, you know, a lot of people, like you said, have a hard time reaching out and probably, especially this time a year, because, you know, it's the holidays, and they don't want to like, you know, be a downer to someone's holiday and stuff like that. Why? Why is it so hard for these people that are in these dark places to reach out?

Jeffrey Denning    
Yeah, that's a powerful question. One of one of the things that we do for ourselves, if we see somebody else in trouble, we're like, "Hey, you know what we'll help you will bend over backwards to help you". But sometimes when we're feeling that extra burden, and we're, we might be embarrassed, we might feel like we're weak, we might feel like we're going crazy. And we don't want to reach out for help. But some of the things that I have done with friends are, you know, when doing instruction or teaching with other people or peer support, I say, Look, if you were in the same situation, or I mean, excuse me, "If somebody else was in the same situation as you, would you tell them to get help?" Well, sure. Okay. Well, we need to have the same rules for ourselves. But I'll tell you, it's hard. Yeah, it is. Oh, and so incredibly hard. That's probably getting help is the most difficult step. And I'll tell you there's a it takes courage for people to raise their hand and say, hey, you know what, I need help or, or, you know, go get help from a therapist or go into go to rehab. In fact, I was just talking with a first responder this morning who, you know, had to get help. He was drinking way too much and, and he was courageous enough to say, You know what, I need help. I really need help and that's a hard thing to say, Okay, let's let's go anyway,

Jerry D. Lund   
Yeah, do you find most first responders are not willing to say that they need help when they do?

Jeffrey Denning   
You know, I think I think it's in the nature of, of who we are. A lot of it has to do with where we're overall, you know, speaking collectively, we're resilient professionals. And so when we feel like we're not resilient, or that we need help, we might look at ourselves as that we're not professional, or, Hey, or we might compare ourselves to others thinking, well, so and so can handle it. And my situation is way less than his or hers. And I forgot what you even said, See?

Jerry D. Lund    
I was so in depth listening to you, I pretty much forgot what I asked, you know, I just, you know, first responders, it's just that getting that step to say, "I need help", you know, and overcoming overcoming that and looking in, maybe at ourselves as being weak for saying that we need help. And so I feel like we may often, like delay that, because you just like you're saying, like, we're so resilient. But as time goes by, right, I think we become less resilient, you know, things. And so reaching out for that help is, like you said, it's extremely difficult. And I think a lot of us probably think, Oh, this is just a phase enroll pass, but it tends not to pass.

Jeffrey Denning    
You're absolutely right. Yeah, it's, it's difficult. In fact, I was talking with a first responder about a month ago. And she said, You know what, I'm I'm actually not doing that great right now. Which was, which was nice for her to confess that to me, and she said, You know, I've been this way for last couple of weeks. And I thought about reaching out to a friend, I've thought about reaching out to employee assistance program and maybe call on a therapist, but I just don't. And, honestly, I think a good majority of us find ourselves in situations like that on occasion where it's like, you know, what, we're going through a little bit, a little of a rough patch, we might feel that we're not doing that great, but we don't necessarily do anything about it, we might say, Well, okay, I'll just, if I can just keep going on.

Responder Wipes    
Hey, everyone, I want to thank my sponsor, Responder Wipes. They're the best decon wipes on the market far superior than any others out there. I love how thick and durable these wipes are. They're very safe, you can use them from head to toe and everywhere in between, the wipes are extra wet and leave you feeling fresh and clean. They also can be used as a cooling towel, almost incredibly hot days or after an incident that gets you overheated. Please check them out at responderwipes.com, and follow 'em on Instagram.

Jeffrey Denning    
Not hang in there, I think it's a different thing. It's just like, I'm just gonna keep going on and time's gonna keep ticking away. But the thing is, there's there's help available. Even if it's reaching out to a friend, I think one of the things that that happens is we feel sometimes embarrassed to reach out to our buddies, when in reality, you know what? They've been there and done that to a lot of us. A lot of them. So we shouldn't be nervous to say, "Hey, you know what, I, can't we just get together, I need help. When what happens is we often isolate and isolation na-na causes problems. Yeah. And, you know, when we start isolating and we isolate into our own heads, and we isolate into our own thoughts, and when we get into our own thoughts, then we start telling ourselves things that aren't right, or aren't true, or just negative, because oftentimes we go to that negative spot, because thinking about the worst case scenario for first responder, helps keep us alive. And, you know, shoot my grandpa was a firefighter, you know, and I've been in running, I was running the gun and carrying a gun for a living for 25 years. And so, you know, you're looking at situations and you size people up and things up and you think, Okay, what's the worst thing that can go wrong? The the stoics called it pray matado memoriam, which is great for to think about the evil thing or literally transported, translated is to think or to meditate on evil. And, you know, I wouldn't say let's go around think about evil thing because evil thinking is good, but when we think about what's the worst thing that can go wrong, like for my SWAT background in it, and then we go backwards and we say let's do some backwards or let's do some planning to mitigate what could go wrong, then that's healthy and it's okay. 
So oftentimes go, we look at those worst case scenarios and And then we think, Okay, now we can work our way out of it. That's what we tend to do as first responders, especially the longer you've been in the business. I was talking to the firefighter yesterday, who actually said to me, yes, I, you know, over over the weekend, I started stewing about things about my own mental health. And then then I went to worst case scenario, like I'm really messed up, and then he went spiraled downhill from there. And I'm like, Well, I understand why you started thinking about worst case scenario, because that's in our nature to do it, it's how we survive, we think about the negative, the negative, unfortunately sticks with us a little bit longer. Because it's a survival neck mechanism. If we, if we only saw good, and we only thought good all the time, then, you know, our ancestors would have been eaten by bears and lions and wolves are whatever we wouldn't be, we wouldn't even exist, right. So there is an element that we have to think about negativity and the negative, but we need to be careful if we get if we isolate, we get into our own heads. And then we start saying negative, negative self talk, sometimes having somebody to talk to you, whether it's just good, good friends, people who are supportive, and listen, good family members, or you know, a counselor or therapist, then they can help help us make sure that our thoughts are right. And that we're not actually looking down. Well, honestly, looking down the barrel of a gun. Right? You know, that's the worst case scenario. 
And lots of people, you know, as far as suicide goes, we lots of people who take their life by suicide, don't necessarily want to just take their life by suicide, they want the pain to stop, and they don't know any other way to make it stop. Right. And, gosh, you know, I actually lost my little brother in May, to suicide. And I've had, I've talked to countless cops, who have had guns in their mouths. I've had friends who've killed themselves. In fact, when I was in high school, one of my good good buddies, we'd go hunting and scan and play football together. He took his life by suicide, his dad was a cop. And you know, that really affected me big time. It's like, okay, how can we help ourselves if we're overburdened and overloaded? And we don't, we don't know where to turn. Sometimes I think, I think it's easier and go with me on this one. But I think it's easier for people to say, You know what, I'd rather just kill myself, then go get help. That's how hard getting help is. I don't want to be seen as weak. I don't want my agency to know that I'm struggling. I don't want anybody to know I'm struggling. The bottom line is there's a good chunk of us who struggle at times, right. We're all human. So we struggle. And, and, you know, to answer your, your first question, I think it gets worse at the holidays. I really do.

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah, yeah, I think people just, you know, more, so don't want to be a bother and ruin somebody else's holiday. How do I know who a good person is to reach out to? Or maybe a good method?

Jeffrey Denning  
Ah, shoot, you know, well, so I, I was teaching a lot of peer support stuff over the last few years, I found a company, actually in South Ogden, Utah. I investigated companies all over the United States, like, okay, because there's a lot of apps coming out. There's a lot of therapy, whatever. Anyway, there's a company called providence. It's like PR, evidence for like, pre evidence. And what, and I'm working for them now. But I was telling people long before started working for them just a few months ago. Hey, you guys need to check them out? What what they do is we've been working with the Department of Defense for 17 years doing assessments, mental health assessments that that assess with evidence based assessments, assess wellness, stress, risk and trauma. And when you take when you take an assessment, it's pretty easy to just take an assessment and then you get your results your assessment, and you get the results of your assessment and and it will tell you, okay, here, yeah, okay, you're doing okay, or you're not as bad off as you thought you might be. If you want to get help, you still can go get help. But to me, it's a good formula because if you take the assessment and it is bad, then we have somebody reach out to them really quickly. I reach out to them and then say hey, you want to get into therapy? If they do we get them connected with therapy within 48 business hours and you nobody else is doing stuff like that. So to me, I'm, I'm pretty excited about that, I think it's a good method, because here's the thing, agencies that have mandated therapy, you know, it might help some, you sit down and throw in front of a therapist, but if it's if they're, if it's person you don't know, I don't know that you're going to say all that stuff, or agencies that, that, you know, well, a lot of agencies have employee assistance programs. And you might, you might pick up the phone and call a counselor, or go to them, but you might not, or agencies that have peer support programs, you might go talk to somebody in peer support, and they might be able to connect you to resources like therapy, or you might not, but you don't always have to go to therapy, you know, Harvard University did a study, it's probably one of the longest studies ever it's an 80-year study on what, what helps people with happiness and sounds like, you know, rich know..

Jerry D. Lund    
Well, 80 years is a long time to study something.

Jeffrey Denning  
Right? Right. really found that, that, that people who happiness is derived from relationships. Now, those who struggling relationships knows that, that, you know, the a sour a bad relationship, a bad divorce, that can be just awful, awful, horrible. But on the flip side, it's about relationships. Good relationships. Help us. So trying to find and associate yourself with people who want I like I like to talk find the people who get it. It doesn't mean that they understand every single thing I'm going through, but they at least get it because you know, I think so speaking back to my first book, I mentioned Warrior SOS, I interviewed a buddy of mine from Delta Force. He's the actually one of the first guys from the unit to go public with this posttraumatic stress he did so with a with a blog first my blog, and then I just, I turned it into a book and interviewed a handful more people. I wasn't in special operations, but I'm, I know a bunch of them. And, thankfully, but anyway, we were talking and and I said, Hey, I I did that comparison thing? Are you still with me there? Yeah. Okay. I did that comparison things. And I said, you know, you know, I shouldn't feel like I feel I'm not doing as bad as or I'm, I'm, I should be better than I am because I didn't experience the same thing you experienced. And it was one of the pivotal moments for me because he said, Jeff, you what you experienced is what you experience and you you have a right to feel the way you feel about it. It's traumatic. It's still I didn't, I still didn't believe it. And it's taken a lot of years, frankly, to kind of say, Okay, I guess, you know, because we, we think, Well, other people have managed and you we think that other people have mentioned reality, we just don't know, right, right? We look at other people and we think, Oh, they got their stuff together, they everything's going perfect at home for them. Everything's going perfect at work. Everything's perfect in life. In reality, that's not always the case. But I like what Viktor Frankl said. And he wrote Man's Search for Meaning he was over in, you know, Auschwitz era, and he was a prisoner. And he said, and I paraphrase, that trauma is like behavior of gas in a gas chamber, it doesn't matter if it's a little bit of trauma, or a whole lot of trauma is still equally covers the entire chamber the entire room. Which, for me, that helped me comprehend one, it doesn't matter if somebody's just been on the job one week, and they experienced some serious trauma, or they've been on the job for 20 years. And they've experienced a lot of trauma, traumas trauma, because I have talked to cops who've been on the job one week, and they've had some hell of experience, right, some horrible stuff happening to them. But hey, I get it. And they get it. And other people get it. It just might, our experiences might not be the exact same but traumas trauma, 

Jerry D. Lund    
Or experiences,or experiences are probably not the exact same because our perception of what happens is completely different for each person.

Jeffrey Denning  
Yeah, exactly. We, yeah, exactly, exactly. But I think sometimes, too, I remember talking to one officer who after a week, she was embarrassed to talk to me and some of the other guys because she said, Well, in fact, she even said well, you guys have been at it so much longer than I have been like, Well, you shouldn't, you shouldn't feel afraid to come talk to us. I've noticed that out about seven year in as a first responder, people start having rough times. And it's either they're going to say, You know what it's okay to look to mental health at that point or not. But that's almost a pivotal moment where it's like, okay, you have enough bad rocks that you're carrying around in your backpack now, now, it's time to get rid of them. You know, these are post stress rocks, you know, everything from well, you know, all the bad, nasty, horrible calls.

Jerry D. Lund    
Yeah, I think, as first responders, like you said, you know, the bad rocks that we carry, we tend to let them just weigh us down so much, instead of doing anything, prevent, like, Brett preventative for this type of stuff. You know, if, if you start, you know, letting those bad rocks weigh you down from the get go, they're just gonna pile up even faster as you get going. I feel like, and I think it's something that we need to stay on top of, and find the way that works for you to stay on top of like, you know, there's different, you know, providence and then there's, you know, apps and all these different ways, you know, your buddies peer support, some there's something out there that will fit what you're looking for for help. 

Jeffrey Denning    
Yeah, you said it really well, Jerry, and, gosh, you know, I think with the newer, I think we're in a good time period, some of the newer people coming into public safety are more apt to be okay with not being okay. And then being okay with saying, you know, what, I need to go see somebody and they're okay with that. It's, it's the guys that are our age, that sometimes it's like, man, now what, we've been shoving it down for years and years on end. And you know, it takes almost a full crisis versus finally say, well, shoot, I guess I need some help. When in reality, wouldn't wouldn't it be nice to you know, 20 years ago? Have a have a culture kind of like we do now where it's like, you know what, let's get some help. 

Jerry D. Lund    
Yeah, totally. 

Jeffrey Denning  
Well, I think firefighting, the firefighters are way ahead of law enforcement in this realm, in that you have a lot more firefighters who are talking about mental health, way more than police across the nation, but it was pretty cool. The President either just signed or is going to sign a new bill for federal law enforced by its cops. What is it cops counseling act or something like that for peer support? So that's for federal law enforcement, a lot of states are starting to adopt confidential privilege laws for peer support and peer counseling, which is great, we need it, you know, cuz somebody, if somebody doesn't want to go see a therapist, that's okay. We need to talk to each other. And and we get it. 

Jerry D. Lund    
Right, right, so maybe some listeners don't understand what peer counseling is, can you explain that to him?

Jeffrey Denning  
Ah, so a lot of organization. If you want to officially organize a peer support organization, or like I know of a different states might call it different things. Trust team or I know in Idaho, they there's a Idaho Falls PDN police call it a trust team. Or but you look down in you know, Maricopa County Phoenix area, they call them a CSM team. So the critical incident stress management teams, and they're doing peer support, meaning if something if, if you need help, we're gonna help you. Basically it's helping with emotional resilience, and, and struggles. So the purpose of peer supporters is, is threefold is to one, make people feel like they're not alone. And two make them feel well, like they're not alone, and they're not going crazy. So to normalize, whatever somebody is experiencing, because you can't be in a job where you're deliberately exposed to traumatic scenes or traumatic incidents on a regular basis, and not have some residual facts. You can't go to a scene without bringing something on you back out of the scene, and that's for crime. That's actually, you know, a crime lab or criminal investigation. That's a that's a truth, a theory. I can't remember what it's called now, but if you go into a scene, you're going to leave something there and you're going to take something with you but from a mental health aspect. It's 100% True, you cannot go somewhere and not be affected didn't come out. If if it's something that, like you mentioned earlier, if your perception of something just throws you for a blindside or throws you for a loop or messes with you, and it might not mess with you, initially, it might be months down the road, it might be years down the road, and something triggers you. And it brings you back to that moment, where you have memories that are now disturbing, and you can't get stuff out of your head. That's normal. So again, the purpose of peer support three fold, I only gave you two but to make you feel like you're not alone, to normalize the situation, and then three is to get help and give you resources. And some of those resources are let's just connect you with somebody who can help. A lot of that's this, let's, let's connect you with a therapist. Let's connect you with the you know, a good hooker. I'm just kidding. That's a negative coping mechanism. There's positive coping mechanisms. There's negative coping, the prostitute, I would say would be in the negative category. Right? How old? Would you want to sleep with a prostitute? Especially  after some of the...

Jerry D. Lund
Man we've seen and heard and saw? Yeah.Yeah, for sure. I have you seen a correlation between first responders empathy, and the resilience? So as are the time on the job, and the resilience seems to go down, do you see them being less empathetic on the job?

Jeffrey Denning
That's it? That's a great question. You know, I always say, it's, initially what happens is, you take the job, and they're like, why do you want to take a job because I want to help people, I want to be in service. Okay. And then you go to the same person over and over and over. And pretty soon you're dealing with people who are trying to take their lives right over and and you get so calloused and burdened, and if you're not doing well, you're just tired of it, then you're pretty soon you're like, not wanting to help them, but you're trying to tell them, hey, I wish I could take all these people and tell them, here's the most effective way to kill yourself. And, and I, I say that, and I've said that to first responders before, and a lot of people get their head shaken. Yep. And there, it's true, because you, you get tired. And a lot of it is dealing with the same trauma over and over and over a day in and day out without a break. And so you know, having a break is important and taking care of yourself is important, because if you're doing well, then you can truly be of service. If you're working nonstop. Or if you're a firefighter, in your second job as a firefighter, that's a little, maybe too much. If you're a cop, and you're working overtime, that might be too much. If you're not doing stuff on your own to be healthy, then you know that that empathy can definitely drive down. And interestingly too, sometimes, sometimes people who are way more empathetic, can also take on a lot more themselves. And that can be a burden, too. It drives them. So they're carrying a an anvil on their shoulders. They just, they take everybody stuff on them, you know, whether they're doing peer support, or whether they're doing community support, and they're, and then they're overburdened. And so, you know, having a having a bet, I guess the question is, what's the balance of what do you do? I mean, you know, let me hear some stuff from you here.

Jerry D. Lund  
I was, I was kind of chuckling a little bit when he said, you know, you know, working too much overtime, or working two jobs and stuff like that. And, you know, I think back to early on my career, and a lot of a lot of younger officers and, you know, firefighters that I know, they're all working multiple jobs and stuff, and what becomes, you know, this opportunity to get into this job you wanted to do for most people, their lifetime, and then doing it and that becomes your whole entire life now. And then you don't have any hobbies after, like, you don't take time for hobbies. I I'm speaking for myself, I did the same thing. I worked for three departments at one time and you know, and had another job and another job and so at one point, I was working in five different places. So yeah, that's the one the detriment to my family and a detriment to me. But I haven't had hobbies for a long time until this last few years when I decided I'm not working another job. It's just not worth it. And when you can do things outside of that, it fills your cup up to go back to work to being being more empathetic instead of, you know, losing that resiliency because they're weighed down. And, you know, now you have that stuff to give to others instead of just always been empty.

Jeffrey Denning   
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. You know, it's like, you're, you become the job and, and you identify so much with the job. And understandably, you know, if you want to get good at something, and you love it, I understand it. I mean, I've been there too. Okay, on my off time, guess what I'm learning how to do. I'm reading every book I can about law enforcement, I'm going to the range on my own. I'm becoming a better shooter, you know, and part of that came from a hostage situation early on in my career, where I'm like, I didn't have to go in but I was like, I grabbed the shield. And they said, Okay, Jeff, you're going in first is in the 90s. And I'm like, Okay, shoot, it was a copy was taken hostage. And I'm like, well, if I'm gonna have to do a hostage situation shot, I can't mess around. So I got to be really good at firearms. Yeah. And I still teach here on the side. But it's like, I've been inundated by everything law enforcement. But you're right, we need to do something different. Because if we're, if our identity is, is not us, but our identity is the job, what happens when we retire? Or what happens if we get in trouble and we lose the job? What happens when we we get totally burnt out? Yeah, with what what syndrome that I like is the first responder exhaustion syndrome where it's burnout, exhaustion, both physical and emotional, and isolation and depression. Right. And at one time, or one time or another, every first responder is going to go through that. And if they haven't, they haven't worked as a first responder long enough. Or if they haven't cried on the drive home. It's because they haven't worked long enough. So everybody's going to experience that, but you need to make we need to make our identities us and not the job. 

Jerry D. Lund    
Right, right. 

Jeffrey Denning 
That's a challenge. 

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah, it's definitely it's definitely a challenge, it's still it's always going to be a challenge. And it's always going to be a difficult balance to between work and home, you know, and finances and everything like that. But, you know, you have to draw the line at some point to take care of yourself. Let's talk about a little bit of science behind, you know, being you know, well being.

Jeffrey Denning  
So, I'm kind of geeky and that I love to research all the science behind wellness. And there is so much science out there on sleep, that you've got to get proper sleep, and trying to do the right thing to get the proper sleep can be challenging, especially if you're working 48 And you're a firefighter and you're in a busy, you know, busy station that's challenging. Or if you're working grades and you're trying to you know, you have you have kids at home who are allowed to sleep or, or whatever the situation is, if you're on call, and you're getting totally called out say when I retired, it was so nice to put my phone off. I did you know as a negotiator and peer support and I I was getting called out a lot, especially for peer support stuff and every shooting every crazy other incident. So to turn off the phone, it was really kind of nice. Yep, that but we need to say, You know what I need to do I need to, I need some time off. I need some time off for me. But anyway, the science behind sleep is pretty amazing. Seven hours sleep is what we need for the proteins in our brain to say, Okay, I'm back back to working well, but a lot of us, you know, survive on you know, four and a half, five, six hours sleep maybe. Right and, and that catches up with us. It. It it's like going to work and toxicated and we we we get in trouble for that. Right? Yeah, but is that rest period? Enough? That allows people and I think of dispatchers you don't Oh, guess what? We don't have enough dispatcher so you're working overtime mandatory? Are they getting enough sleep? Is anybody getting enough sleep? Because pilots in order to fly the plane have to get enough sleep truck drivers, they have to fill out a log to try to get enough sleep. Are we doing that to ourselves when we're in the limelight? And so you see people you know, in you know home videos, or or body cams and somebody flipping out over something and doing something they shouldn't want. It's their build. Their buildup of trauma is maybe too much their emotional dumpster has been overflowing. In fact, I talked to a cop who, he retired for a year. And then he came back and he said, I needed that release. And I'm good to go. Now, I just needed time off. And so we need, in my opinion, we need more time off. Right and Firefox. It's some good time off, which is nice. But, but but are we really checking out and actually having time off for ourselves? I think in the future I think that's, that's gonna be pivotal. We also need naps. There's a lot of science behind naps. In fact, a handful of agencies are are napping. So last big Metro Police Department started a napping thing. So there sergeant grades or whatever, or afters or whenever it was, like, hey, go take a nap. And they had little nap rooms around the city. Then, within I think six months, they did use of for their use of force had gone down 60% That's crazy. 

Jerry D. Lund  
I totally, totally believe that. 

Jeffrey Denning  
They have to work. So you know, we get hangry because we're tired and hungry. So we need to eat. We need to sleep. We need good. I don't know. That's called sleep hygiene, whatever, you need to be hydrated out with the bad stuff. Right? 

Jerry D. Lund    
Right.

Jeffrey Denning  
You know, anyway, there's there's all kinds of stuff with asleep. But exercise. Also, the science behind exercise is through the roof. In fact, if if people would exercise and it doesn't have to be hardcore exercise, but deliberate movement, and sometimes just deliberate movement, even if it's going for a walk every day. The science behind exercise showed some of it is so that it's as good or better than taking SSRIs for mental health, which is serotonin uptake inhibitors or whatever. SS you know, yeah. Anyway, so taking, taking the pills for mental health, it's like, exercise can help. Right? Here's the challenge, though. It's like a lot of us like even me, it's like, yeah, I need to work out. I know the science behind it. I should. Or I know I should go to sleep at this time or not look at my phone, because there's too much blue blue screen before I go to bed. So I can't go to bed. You know, a lot of us are like, Okay, we know we need it. But do we do it? And there, there's gonna come a point where it's like, Dude, are we going to? Are we going to are we killing ourselves? There's a book by Bessel Vander Kolk, called the Body Keeps the Score. He's a trauma expert. And the body our bodies truly do keep keep the score with trauma. And so in fact, here's confession. I just went to the doctor yesterday or the day before, and they did some blood work. And they said, hey, guess what, you're pre diabetic? Well, even though in this video image, I kind of look like I'm overweight. I yeah, I have not fluctuating weight ever. I'm over. I'm kind of fit. I mean, I need to work out more. But I'm, I'm overall physically, I'm pretty well, although jacked up my back in Iraq and wearing a gun belt and a vest and working out are desperate, you know, I'm getting AIDS because I'm getting older. But he said I was pre diabetic. And I've read a study a couple of years ago that said that first responders, a lot of them once they get to a lot of years get are pre diabetic. And you could say that some of it's due to our diet, because we're not all eating at the firehouse with somebody having good cooked meals, but we don't. But, you know, but here's the thing. It's because our endocrine system gets jacked up, because we're always high on adrenaline. You know? Like, it's not even that we're coming down from adrenaline. And it seems like we're up all the time. And then we go home, we fully crash. So you're up at work, and you're down at home, and there's no, there's no goodness in the middle where we need to be either hyper aroused, or hyper aroused. And that that emotional state, it affects our body. The body truly keeps a score. Especially you know, your radio goes off. Game on and what's happening. 

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah, so yeah, I'm actually reading that book right now. So actually, I'm listening to it. It's like 16 hours long, but it's pretty fascinating. Yeah, another thing is I had a it's called First Responders Sleep Recovery. They were I did a podcast with them and they're talking a lot about the same things. You know, you're talking about forest sleep hygiene and getting enough sleep in the things that happen to us when we don't get enough sleep. And I think if we all like look at ourselves on the days after we don't get enough sleep, we can tell. For me it's just like things take a little bit longer to think like names or stuff like that are a little bit slower to come out. Maybe because I'm just getting older could be that too. But it's just you know, and tolerance, right tolerance for sure I can see to myself like, I have a busy night, right just for some reason I don't sleep well at the station because I kind of have like one eye open type of deal and I come home, I'm definitely going to be short, because I'm tired. And then your, your body, yeah, it starts wrecking your body with not enough sleep, your body doesn't have enough time to repair and heal, and you know, all the hormones to reset and be where they should be. And so it's you have so important to get sleep. I share one thing with you. I had. So I went and had EMDR done had four sessions of that. And it was just because I wasn't feeling anything that was bothering me. But it just wanted to go just to like after 30 plus years, there's got to be some stuff that you know, that he needed to deal with. And I just finally occurred to me like a couple months ago, I had not dreamt really for 20 years. And after going to EMDR I'm dreaming at night now. Even if I not even sleeping great. I'm still dreaming.

Jeffrey Denning  
Wow. 

Jerry D. Lund
Which is pretty crazy and pretty awesome. At the same time.

Jeffrey Denning  
That is it sounds like you're getting actually deep sleep finally. 

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah, yeah. Right. There's just all the little things that we could do for ourselves can can add up to taking care of ourselves physically and mentally. Do you have some other tips? Okay. 

Jeffrey Denning  
Yeah, yeah. Well, you're just talking, talking about the science still, there's so much more science out there from EMDR to accelerated resolution therapy to whatever and talk therapy for trauma, the American Psychological Association that says that it takes between like, I think it's 15 to 20 sessions. If somebody is doing just just talk only to reduce trauma and only 50% of those, say, Yeah, my trauma symptoms have lessened. And some of it's like, okay, how well have you done it in the military, they're, they're mandated to do certain steps. So they actually have a pretty good result. But sometimes, depending on the, the therapist, somebody goes and talks to about trauma, it might help a little bit, but that's like, man 15 to 20 sessions for only 50% of benefits. Whereas with EMDR, it's evidence based been around 30 years stuff works, and accelerated therapy, which is a lot of stuff that we use a prevalence or one our prevalence professional network of therapists to use. And the Mayo Clinic's using it right now for terminal cancer patients, as evidence base has been around for a long time. And that's within four sessions of the average to say we're going to less than that trauma attack even with one session, sometimes this significantly lowers trauma, but but also with with, you know, some of the other data as far as science goes, gratitude is enormous for our mental health. And what happens is, out of the University of California Davis is a lot of Professor Emmons, he did a lot of research on this on gratitude, and people who keep a gratitude journal writing three, three things down every day, for a period of time, it should be, you know, a good period of time. In fact, people were doing 30 days kept going on and a lot of cases, but writing three things that they're grateful for. What happens is, you don't write am grateful for air, but you're actually looking. I mean, I am grateful for air but, but we what happens is we start to look for those things that will that are good, because as first responders, we're deliberately exposed to the negative. If we can start looking for the good even in the negative. Then we can we write down Hey, here, I'm grateful for this. I've had buddies, multiple friends of mine have been shot overseas, and here and in the states well, and there's been a couple times I'm like, "You know what, I'm super grateful that it wasn't 10 times worse. Because things just happen to line up. That was like a miracle. 
I remember, situation of a rollover, the vehicle rolled 10 times down the interstate. And both the passenger and the driver died, a two year old, lived and had no broken bones. I'm like, that's a good thing. Is it traumatic to go to Yeah, but it's a miracle to me. You're writing down the things that are good. What happens is you start looking for good things. And then we talk we say muscle memory, but it's really neural pathways. So then your neural pathways are strengthened to look for positive things because I talked about negative things right? We do look for negative but sometimes we can go down a rabbit hole with the negativity. If we can look for the positive things through gratitude. Gratitude will pay back itself in 1000 times in dividends. And so it's hard to say okay, I need to work out i Okay, I need to eat right? Okay, I need to go to the gym I Argh, I need to go, you'll get good sleep, okay, I need to write in a journal and write a gratitude journal. It's hard to do those things. But as we do them, our mental health and our physical health will improve because even in that study, even one one of the studies for gratitude, I think it was from from diabetes, the the levels of a one A1C lessened. And they weren't doing anything different in their diet. From what I recall from this as I studied this a long time ago, but the physical we get physical and mental health from gratitude. Pretty powerful, I think. 

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah, yeah, I've said it probably most all the podcasts, there's so much power within your words, whether you're saying positive words or negative things, there's so much power all the way down into your there's scientific proof down to your cellular level, there is change which what you're saying, you know, just like simply know, people did the like the Rice Experiment, you can believe whatever you want, but kind of about the Rice Experiment that but were they like talking bad to the one rice and talking good to the one rice, you know, one goes super crappy, because they're talking all these negative things about it. The one that talking great things to, you know, the white rice stays good for a long time. But same thing, you know, just if we talk to ourselves negatively, we're going to go to that easy, negative dark side all the time. And just like you're saying, I like that, like, you know, you're you're becoming lighter. When you're looking for the gratitude. You're not being as so heavy on yourself.

Jeffrey Denning    
Well, I didn't I didn't know about the rice thing. I might have to look that up. You intrigued me. But it reminds me there's one with a rabbit. So there was a rabbit that the health of one of the rabbits in this in this lab, right. One of the rabbits was so much better off than all the other rabbits and one of the caretakers who went to that rabbit talked to the rabbit and praise the rabbit and just made the RAT for some reason. In the here's the crazy thing. It's like, what is happening? That rabbit is actually taking positive words, whether it's the tone or whatever, and the rabbit had better health than all the other rabbits combined. Yeah. It's awesome to me. And I think as we look at ourselves, and really know, understand our own identity and look at other people in a way that their identity, you know, not just a cop, not just but a human being who's awesome. And who's great. And who's has his full potential. And that's the oh gosh, is it Pygmalion? I think it's Pygmalion effect, where they had a bunch of teachers. They told teachers in the like the second grade or something like that, they said, Here are these students who are going to excel and be better. And they treated them unconsciously. They treated them better, and they actually performed better. Whereas they they weren't any different than any other ones. It was just part of the science experiments. If we can look at each others and ourselves and say you know what? This are really are great people and I'm an okay guy, too. But you're right, the words. The words we the words we say the words we test and our actions, man, it's gonna it all starts in the brain. Yeah. Which is why fascinating to me. And I'm which I'm, which is why I'm glad I'm, I'm on this podcast. You're and I'm glad I met you. Yeah, good things.

Jerry D. Lund  
Oh, yeah. Yeah, no, yeah, it's definitely awesome. I think we have a lot of similarities in what we believe in, we're both super fascinated by the brain science and there's just so much science out there to do better, live better, feel better. You know, all the other things in your life, you just have to do the work to do it. And it's just you have to take the time. And I know everyone's so busy, and we don't have the time. But, you know, five minutes here and there is better than zero minutes anywhere in your day. And, you know, I think you can probably find five minutes in your day to give yourself some gratitude or write a journal or read something positive or listen to something positive, you know, to help you out.

Jeffrey Denning  
Or write a thank you note or a positive note to somebody, which is one of the things I did this years and years ago, maybe maybe 30-35 years ago, I thought you know what if I if I have an impression to say or do something nice, I'm going to try to go out of my comfort zone and do it. And I tried to make it it's hard sometimes, but I still try to do it and honestly, I've been able to say stuff to the people and like man, you know what, I really needed that today, and it makes the giver feel good. Just saying positive things.

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah, yeah. And you know, this is like at the store smiles can it can take You know, even though with masks and stuff like that, still, people can see if you're smiling or give them a compliment or, you know, ask them how they're doing and just being a genuine good person is, like you said, it's gonna make you feel good, and it's gonna make them feel good.

Jeffrey Denning  
And, and hugs too, but not the creepy kind. 

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Jeff, before I let you let you go, what impact do you want to make in the world with your books? And you're moving into therapy?

Jeffrey Denning  
You know, I just I don't know, I guess that's, that's a that's a that's a great question. I just want to I get it, I get it, I guess is the thing. I get it and helping others helps me. I'm not doing it to help me. That's helped me and it's part of my mission. I feel like part of my life's mission is, you know, what? I just want to help people to say, "Guess what, one, I've been there before, I get it". And life can be a struggle at times I get it. Let's help. And I, to me, it's about friendship, honestly. I just I like meeting people. And I've had people confess stuff to me that whether it's classified or not classified or whatever, and lots of times, I do a lot less talking. Other than on this podcast. You know, I just like to listen and, and help people out. Guess that's what it's about.

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah, no, and you do that. And I've attended one of Jeff's classes. And it was a great, great class. And so, Jeff, where can people find us so they can read these books and follow you along and maybe seek out for some counseling? 

Jeffrey Denning  
Oh, I have a website up. I haven't shared it very often. Actually. I don't think I've shared it hardly at all. Maybe one or two people but it's jeffreydenning.com, it's J-E-F-F-R-E-Y. denning.com. It's interesting. I looked at my I looked at Amazon books the other day. There's a, there's a, there's another two or three Jeffrey Dennings out there. I mean, I've written the most books out of all, but there's some other authors and another and another cop Jeffrey Denning. But Harry was a cop in Illinois, like kind of crazy. Yeah, it was. But you know, it's like, yes. Not because I thought, I guess.

Jerry D. Lund    
Yeah, that's why I say Jerry Dean Lund. Some things are Jerry D. Lund because there's, there's others out there. It's, it's kind of crazy. The world is not that big.

Jeffrey Denning  
I'm gonna have to well, there's even a professor at Brigham Young University who's, uh, Jeff Denning. I'm like, what? Yeah, he's a distant. But, you know? Uh,

Jerry D. Lund 
Well, thank you so much for being on the podcast today. I really appreciate it, Jeff.

Jeffrey Denning  
Hey, thanks a million for having me. You're you're doing great stuff. I've listened to some of your podcasts. I'm going to have to go listen that sleep one. That's yeah, that's.

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah, that's a great one. Good, good. All right. We'll talk to you soon. 

Jeffrey Denning  
Okay, thanks, brother. 

Jerry D. Lund  
Yep. 

Fire and Fuel Apparel  
Hey, everyone, please check out my very own apparel in Fire and Fuel Apparel. There you will find a wide array of apparel honoring first responders that can be shipped worldwide. Please give me a follow on Instagram too.

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 @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 hosts and the current episodes guests.

Jeffrey Denning Profile Photo

Jeffrey Denning

Author

Recently retired first responder, mental health advocate, military veteran, and author of several books, including Warrior SOS.