Hello readers. Very glad to be here on ptsdchat.org, beginning what I hope is a regular series of short writing pieces.I’d like to thank Rebecca for extending me the opportunity to be a contributor here.
My story is a simple one. I”ve been a police officer for 18 years. I work for a large police service (would be the equivalent to a State Police agency in the US) and I’m currently a Sergeant, in charge of overseeing Operations. At one point in my career, I climbed all the way up to Inspector rank…only to have that accomplishment disappear a few years ago. I’m married to a very tough, very resilient typical cop’s wife named Cathy, and I have two teenage sons.
During my fifth year of policing, I was the first officer on scene of what would turn out to be a fatal collision. After diving into the vehicle that was destroyed, and commencing to administer first aid and CPR to the driver, I discovered, much to my shock, that the driver I was working on was a good friend from university. He was ultimately taken from the scene by ambulance while I stayed at the crash site and finished the call. After leaving the scene, I finished paperwork, spoke with my friend’s wife, and watched the clock tick down till the second I could go off duty.
Then I went home, got drunk before going to sleep, and started trying to bury and repress the feelings, emotions, and memories that were created that night.
For the next seven years, I never dealt with the rapid spiral that what I know now is PTS was taking me down. I became more and more alienated from friends and family, I buried myself in work, I sought out high-risk activities to cope. My life became more and more about long periods of numbness punctuated by occasional moments of brightness. On two occasions I contemplated suicide.
Finally, in January 2012, I crashed completely. I admitted to myself and my wife that I had a problem and that it had taken over my life completely. She gave me an ultimatum – get help or get out. I knew I needed her and my boys or I would be totally lost and truly have nothing to live for.
So I got help. I began intensive tradtional therapy mixed with holistic approaches to healing. I opened up with any peers or colleagues who were interested in what I was dealing with, spoke freely about the phenomenon of PTS in the first responder world,and began advocating for better access to services, coverage, and protections for men and women in uniform who experienced profession-related trauma.
That soon led to public speaking and training opportunities and putting my thoughts down on paper, which I had started doing as part of my therapy. Eventually, those thoughts and journals became a book on my experience, which I published in March: On the Other Side of Broken – One Cop’s Battle with the Demons of PTSD. Which led to my introduction to Rebecca, and here we are today.
In the coming weeks and months, I will expand on this story, warts and all. I always promise my audience that I will be completely frank when I speak about my experience with PTS, and that includes my readers. I will also be writing about issues pertaining to law enforcement, criminal justice, and psychological health in general.
I am looking forward to this new opportunity with ptsdchat.org. Stay healthy and stay safe!”