**** Warning possible triggers****
It is a living battle every day. To get up and even to get out of the house can be an ordeal. The anxiety as you know you have to leave the house as your body sweats, your head runs at 100 miles per hour and all I am doing is a school run...........
Most parents I would imagine get a form of anxiety surrounding their children being left at school. But for me, it is traumatic. I will say that honestly. The 'What if's daily' and the worry until he is back with me where I can keep him safe is my daily routine. Oh the joy when I have two of them in school in September. The school he goes too is excellent in understanding me now.
My husband, if he has to leave to go to work (during lockdown he has been at home) but I get anxious until he returns home.
I know where this stems from. It is something that I have discussed with my counsellors and working on. It stems from dealing with a sudden death of a child and the need to keep checking on them throughout the day (and night). During my career I dealt with alot of incidents involving children. It wasn't until I was a mum that my anxiety increased. One particular incident I refer too in my blog in 2010. A child that passed away and I had to deal with the incident. I guess I am still angry at the way it was handled and that it did have a detrimental effect on my mental health. During pregnancy the anxiety started. When my first born arrived I had a need to suddenly keep him warm particularly his hands and feet. It carried on till he was no longer a baby anymore. I raised this with my health visitor but I don't feel it was heard. It was because it is what I remember sub consciously at the scene of the incident. This one haunts me during my sleep.
The need to now bubble wrap my children plays on my anxiety every day - at the park, at home, at school and in their sleep. I am told some level of anxiety is normal, but if it becomes too much, then please seek help. By seeking help if you are struggling you will be able to enjoy your baby more.
So that was just the school run!! As I go about the day, I am ok at home. When I go out to do charity work, it can be a struggle. To be in a 'normal' place of work I would really struggle. This was identified by my psychiatrist that I would never cope in a normal capacity. At any point doing volunteer work I can walk away when I am poorly. It is difficult to commit daily to anything, that includes socials, work life and fulfilling anything else that takes time. Some days I don't even want to leave the house. Imprisoned by thoughts that I cannot control of dangers outside.
Hyper Vigilance -
This stems from being injured on duty. The vulnerability I feel when I am out, not being able to run away if something was to kick off. The hyper vigilance is tiring too. I literally profile everyone I meet, so If I am staring at you up and down If I have never met you previously, then I am finding out about you. I have found wearing masks very difficult for this. Some of you may have been asked for me to remove your masks briefly so that I can see your face. We spend alot of time profiling people in the Police naturally, getting the vibe! It is now something that I cannot switch off. It can also come across very judgemental!! It is not my intention, but It is something that is now engrained in me. I have no control over it. I have tried so hard but I cannot stop it from happening.
Restaurants / supermarkets / anywhere busy are the worst places for me to be. It is exhausting. I don't feel safe, and the split second that something doesn't feel right, I want to be out of there. Doesn't bode well for date nights! I end up scoffing my food pretty quickly! Some times we have had to leave, because it has just got too much. I cannot control it, head tells me you are in danger and have to leave.
If it is a place I feel comfortable then I will frequent that place. Which therefore means life can be pretty repetitive. My husband is very understanding since I told him about this.
Exits and nightmares - I have to know where my exits are or at the very least a route out! I hate going to new places, if I do then I have to know how I get out. Two reasons for this -
The first occasion I was single-crewed and called to a dispute and I was on a third floor balcony looking down at the great height, when I was surrounded by two groups intent on hurting each other! I called for assistance, and no-one came for some time. I was stuck in the middle of the two groups, so felt I was either going over the top of the balcony, or going to get hurt getting out. I managed to get my back to the wall and sidled out of the groups whilst getting hit in the process. Help finally came in the shape of one single crewed person, as well as a beat officer. I managed to get down the three flights of stairs.
The Sgt had made a bad call that day and I paid the price for it. I won't disclose on here what the decision making was for this on their behalf, but suffice to say I received an apology.
I never knew this incident affected me during the years that went on, but it is one that repeatedly comes up in my nightmares now. In my nightmares I am thrown over the balcony and I repeatedly see myself laying at the bottom. I have to sit with my back to the wall so that everything and everyone is in my peripheral vision. It is also that I can react to everything without the element of surprise behind me.
The second incident was when I went to yet another dispute, but it turned nasty when my colleague and I arrived. I was punched in the face and then dragged into the house, with the perpetrator then repeatedly hitting my body. My colleague was outside fighting with the woman! I tried to call for help again, and again no-one came for some time as my radio changed to the wrong channel. I was shouting to the call handler the name of the road and they repeated back " sorry there isn't a road by that name in this area"!!!
I managed to fight this guy for what felt like hours but it must have been for about 10 minutes! The door was closed and I couldn't get out. Finally I managed to get to the door and colleagues arrested the male. A short while later I had started being sick at the station and then taken to hospital.
I nearly quit the Police that week as I spent a week recovering at home. My face body was bruised, and I had concussion. I cried in court retelling the account of what happened and never felt so weak as a Police Officer as my account was pulled apart. They saw through his account and he received a fine of £200 and a curfew order. This is sickening considering what he put me through.
This nightmare repeats itself to me most nights - I cannot get out of the house. I will spare the details of the rest of it.
I have been in many fights in the Police - times where I couldn't get out. Now my head tells me that I cannot get out, I cannot run. Where is my exit?? It is incredible how the brain suddenly switches from having trauma. It goes into protection mode.
Flashbacks happen to me every day. It can be as simple as smelling something that reminds me of an awful incident and I am reliving it all over again. It is like I have to remind myself I am back in the present day not back there. Mood swings and anger, this is under control but still scary nevertheless, I read a good book called ‘my mom has ptsd’ and it explains about the fire; definitely worth a read if you want to understand more. I zone out, and I am still unsure why this happens to me. I forget my words as well as forget things have been said or happened. That doesn't bode well in a disagreement with my husband! I inevitably lose because I cannot remember details. Yet my mind seems to be remarkable when recalling the incidents I don't want to recall!!
Thank you for reading this. This wasn't an easy one to write I will be honest. Living with PTSD is very tiring. You have to keep reminding yourself all the time that you are living in the present, and not in the past. That to live for the moment is vitally important for recovery. To talk more to others about what you are dealing with. It is the only way. xx