Finding Your Way Through Therapy 155: E.155 Writing for Healing: The Therapeutic Power of Words For First Responders With Keith Hanks

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Imagine dedicating 21 years of your life to saving others, only to find yourself grappling with your own inner battles. This episode features an incredibly candid conversation with Keith Hanks, a retired firefighter and EMT, who opens up about his complex PTSD diagnosis and the rocky journey from active duty to retirement. We unwrap Keith's transition, the trauma that led to his early retirement, and the powerful mission he has since undertaken to support fellow first responders and veterans through his Facebook group and the Traumatic Strength initiative. Keith’s story isn’t just about struggle; it's about resilience, community, and the relentless pursuit of mental well-being.

We tackle head-on the often-taboo topic of mental health among the first responder community. Keith shares his personal struggles with PTSD and the stigma that initially kept him from seeking help. He discusses the importance of honest conversations in therapy and finding the right therapist who truly understands the first responder experience. This episode sheds light on the evolving dialogue around mental health and emphasizes that vulnerability and openness are not signs of weakness but steps toward healing. Our discussion also touches on how trauma affects not only individuals but entire communities, and how teamwork and support play crucial roles in recovery.

Keith’s authentic storytelling extends beyond our conversation into his new book, “Allen,” which took nine years to perfect. From raw journal entries to a refined narrative, Keith’s writing journey illustrates the cathartic power of putting pen to paper. We discuss the therapeutic benefits of writing, whether through journaling or more structured projects, and provide practical tips for those wanting to start their own writing journey. Keith’s upcoming projects, including a how-to guide on trauma and a children’s book about stress, reflect his unwavering commitment to mental health advocacy. Tune in to discover not just Keith’s story, but the transformative power of sharing our own.

Go buy his book at this link.

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