Stress, Cumulative Stress, PTSD, and other forms of trauma response are terms in which are widely known, but not often fully understood within the public safety community.
Many of those in police, fire, EMS, dispatch, corrections, animal control, and other roles within public safety don't fully understand the variety of symptoms and affects of trauma, stress, and post-traumatic stress in their entirety. The common belief is, "Well, I'm not having night terrors, and I can still do my job every day, so I don't have enough stress to get help." But the truth is, its okay to seek help at any point, regardless of the severity of your symptoms. Stress and trauma are individual experiences, meaning if you sense a change in yourself that doesn't feel positive, you are fully within your rights to seek help if you wish. There are no specific thresholds in which to meet in order to seek ways to mitigate your stress or your symptoms.
In fact, its encouraged to seek healthy ways to manage stress before stress becomes troublesome. Seeking therapy, or other resources, is not just for those who are deeply struggling to stay afloat; therapy and a variety of other resources are helpful for those looking for ways to stay ahead of the stressors in the career. It's also imperative to have some sort of wellness regimen for oneself in order to prevent stressors from escalating to more significant levels.
The Stress Continuum Model, pictured above, is a great self-assessment tool to determine where you may be on stress scale! Stress is different for everyone, and therefore cannot be measured or compared to others around you. What may be a significant stressor for one person may not be significant for another. It is important to realize that your own levels of stress and trauma are yours, and yours alone.
If you feel you are struggling, or no longer feel like yourself, give yourself the permission to ask for help.