Friday 7th February 2020 (12.43pm)
I am conscious that I left things a bit grim when I signed off yesterday, and I do not like to leave things is such a way. I had obviously written that post on Sunday after a few days of feeling like I had once again hit rock bottom. I am also aware that many people would have read this with thoughts in their mind about a colleague who we so tragically lost on Monday. Someone who I had the pleasure in working with, who in the end could find no other way out. As my social media filled up with images of ‘the thin blue line’ I sat in my own world shocked as everyone, but deep down hiding feelings of how it could have easily been me.
It takes a lot of strength and courage to fight this demon, but for those who cannot, I totally get what races through your mind. No rational thoughts. No answers. No care. No hope. It may sound selfish to those left behind, but trust me, this is not something you think about. I don’t think you actually can think about it. It is as if nothing matters than getting the pain out of your head as well as escaping the exhaustion ripping through your body. I know I am not alone in these thoughts.
I have heard people say ‘it is the easy way out’. Trust me it is not. Tell me what is so easy about it? Unless you have been there, unless you have had those thoughts, unless you become so desperate that there is no answer then you will never understand. You will never understand what it is like to be consumed by a million emotions when all you want is peace. All you want is quiet. All you want is an end to your pain.
To my friends / colleagues who may be reading this, replaying those last times, those last words, those laughs that you had with our friend, cherish them. Cherish those moments. Cherish those stories which you may have had from shift, in the police car, on Cardiff after dark or dealing with prisoners or vulnerable victims. For me, I remember the infectious smile, the bubbly personality, the hard worker from our hub days, the one who would happily help and do her best.
Please never think ‘what ifs’. What if I noticed? What if I had rang her? What if I had spoken to her? What if I had done anything different? Trust me, you would have all made a difference and impacted in some way through your friendship and kindness.
Keep talking though people, keep looking after yourself and others, keep offering those ears, keep giving out that phone number, keep making yourself available. We all know someone, may all see it in someone but they themselves don’t, or wont admit it. There is no shame in admitting that you are struggling with burnout, depression, anxiety, or any other mental illness. Yes ILLNESS! There is no shame in feeling the pressure of a work load. There is no shame in asking for help. That is what friends, colleagues and supervisors are for. Don’t think you are letting your team down. Don’t think you are the weak link. Easy for me to say now having done exactly that. Many of you may be chasing promotion, aspirations and dreams of the next rank. Please do not do what I did and break yourself to get there.
I am not afraid to say I first self referred to welfare around 2007 ish when I saw that I was changing, becoming a different person, not handling things as I should have been, becoming stressed over stupid things, snappy and irritable. I will never forget the words I said to the counsellor ‘I want to drive down the M4 the wrong way’. Obviously I had to give assurances that I wouldn’t and we worked through things over the coming weeks. During the years that followed I found myself in automatic mode, going through the motions of exams and promotion. Was I happy? Yes and I honestly can say that I loved what I did. Had my head gone at this point? Yes, but I did not see it.
Working in Public Protection we had to see welfare as routine due to what we dealt with. It was during one of these visits early 2016 (I think) that I knew I would be back sometime. Not long after I self referred. Of course I kept this from management, for all of the reasons I mentioned above. Weeks later I walked out, that was nearly 4 years ago.
I am now under the care of my GP and seeing a therapist through RED ARC. Job people, the number is on the federation app / web page. Its confidential, the support is amazing so use if you need to. I am seeing my Psychiatrist on Tuesday.
Seeing how everyone has responded on social media to the news over the last few days makes me proud to part of the police family. You are all amazing people, doing an incredible job. Friendships become like no other. Whatever happens to me and my future with South Wales Police, I will always be part of it, I need that.
Thank you to everyone who continues to support me. I do not put my blog out there for attention or any response. I do it because so many people tell me how they relate but do not have the courage to say.
If what I have said prompts even 1 of you to take my advice then that makes for a happy me.
You know who you are.
You know where I am.