Taking Life Back, One Day at a Time: Frank’s Story

by | Oct 20, 2023 | Addiction, Advocacy, Get Involved, Hope for Healing - Success Stories, Living with a Mental Disorder, Partnerships

Medical Review by Chris Palmer, MD

Frank VoceFrank Voce’s life as a New York City police officer involved long days, longer nights, drama, trauma, and almost constant adrenaline.

For three years, he witnessed many of the things that no one can ever truly prepare for. He took them in, compartmentalized them, and went on to the next call, day after day.

His work gave him purpose, yet he struggled with the physical and mental demands of the job. To cope, Frank began to drink.

The pressure on Frank – both real and self-imposed – was overwhelming. He needed help but feared that if he sought out mental health support, he would be ostracized, lose his livelihood, and be viewed as weak.

To numb the pain, fear, guilt, shame, and anxiety that he was hiding from everyone, Frank drank even more. Eventually, he sought professional help because he was scared of himself.

Over a few short months, Frank was diagnosed with no fewer than four different mental illnesses and was put on six different medications.

He experienced a worsening of his symptoms after starting his drugs. Almost immediately he had insomnia, no energy, and began to skip work. He stopped exercising and nearly stopped eating. Frank isolated himself from friends and family and lost interest in the things that had once brought him joy.

Frank’s medications exacerbated his depression and he began to think about death and suicide. His treatment team continued to change his medications. He was still drinking. Frank was hospitalized twice and eventually entered rehab.

Still, his pain and drinking didn’t stop. After many trials and tribulations, and one very meaningful confrontation by a loved one, Frank finally committed to sobriety.

More than that, Frank committed to taking his life back one day at a time.

He began to eat more healthily and exercise. In addition, he lost the 35 pounds he’d gained from all the medications. He worked with Alcoholics Anonymous and a sponsor and hired a health coach.

Frank focused on building relationships and learning from as many people as possible. He got in touch with his spirituality. He worked with counselors and sponsors to get to know himself better, learning new stress management skills and working with nutritionists to get in tune with his body.

Frank has dedicated himself to helping others since becoming mentally and metabolically healthy. He founded Reps for Responders (https://repsforresponders.org/), a 501(c)(3) dedicated to supporting first responders around the world. Frank is still an active police officer today.

Frank has helped police officers, firefighters, EMTs, nurses, and military personnel/veterans find metabolic and mental health by promoting pathways to recovery in line with the Brain Energy theory, including exercise, nutrition via health coaching, resiliency skills, and connections to others.

For Frank and the hundreds of first responders who participate in his program, the Brain Energy model works!

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