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members need assistance

A diagnosis of PTSD marks the start of a long and slow recovery.

John has been a serving member for over 27 years. It could happen to anyone.

Case Study – PTSD

The Black Dog Bites

I have been a Sergeant of police since 2001 and have been a member of the police force for over 27 years.

In October 2014 I was the patrol sergeant for Frankston.  During the shift I located a vehicle wanted in relation to serious matters.  There were two males in the vehicle.  Without warning my vehicle was violently rammed three times.  Given it was a four wheel drive I feared I would be killed or seriously injured.  At this time I was on my own due to no other police available.  A violent struggle then followed as I attempted to arrest the driver.  Eventually more police arrived and the offenders were taken into custody.  OC Spray was deployed on the second offender.   They were charged with serious offences and bailed.  To the best of my knowledge the offender has still not faced court as he has failed to meet his bail conditions.

I continued for the rest of my shift although sore I felt Ok.  Over the next weeks I started to experience incredibly vivid nightmares.   The theme was always the same, being hunted down by black shadowy figures armed with knives and guns trying to kill me.  These nightmares were like none I had experienced.  It was so life like, I would wake exhausted covered in sweat, heart racing wondering where the hell I was.

I had become extremely hypervigilant.  I could not relax constantly scanning everything and everyone when I left the house. I had lost trust in my decision making and those around me. I tried to push on but the basic things in life were becoming so hard.  I did not want to leave the house, if I did the sight of the police helicopter or sirens would stop me in my tracks.  Anxiety took over, I could not function.  I had an incredible fear that my children (both young adults) were injured or killed in an accident. Sleep deprivation and anger were now normal.  I could no longer watch the news, read a newspaper or watch a lot of TV as I would be triggered and end up re living horrific events I had attended during my policing career.  Most of which I thought I had put to bed.  This again was so real.  It was like you had been transported back in time to relive the incident again.

I no longer could go into work as the anxiety around it would leave me feeling ill.  I finally reached out for help and ceased working.

Make that engagement positive and as comfortable as you can and you will be going a long way to help someone beat the demons of PTSD

I engaged with a psychologists and was diagnosed with chronic PTSD.  My recovery has been slow.  I have received support from my partner family and close friends.  The change in lifestyle is immense when you you suddenly find the career you loved and devoted a major part of life to becomes voided.

I now take medication and continue to see a psychologist fortnightly as I slowly try to return to life pre injury.  As this injury is one that you cannot see you are treated differently.  You certainly feel the stigma attached to a mental injury with people questioning the veracity of the injury.  These injuries are real and we need to support those going through it.

 

Support takes time

It is however an extremely difficult area to support as those suffering certainly can be difficult to engage through no fault of their own.  If you remove trust from your life think how much your life would suddenly change. The reluctance to leave your own home as that is a place of safety.  Reaching out to those with PTSD is not easy as we all have different triggers and levels of anger, anxiety cognitive thought processes.  So it needs to be on the persons who is suffering terms, not yours.  Make that engagement positive and as comfortable as you can and you will be going a long way to help someone beat the demons of PTSD

 

John.

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