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Identity Stripped....

It's been a while since I have looked back on my career. Mostly because it has been too painful. A huge trigger for me. It was with great sadness my career came to an end, and it has been alot to contend with, in that the career I signed up to do 25+ years for came to an abrupt end in 2012. Following on from my leg injury which has left me now (2020) in chronic pain each day and weakness one side. The whole incident has had a detrimental effect on my Mental health and I was subsequently signed off through Injury and (C) PTSD in August 2019. Signed off.....just like that.....20065 no more.

I felt hugely let down and dissapointed by my employer for the handling of my case. I was just a number. Not Kerry who dedicated her time, her career, to helping people in overtime, in not seeing my family and friends, to doing courses in extra time to provide a better service for the Deaf community. Just a number, that could be easily replaced. That is how I felt when I left, and it has been a huge impact on me. I was more of a hinderance to the force now I couldn't 'perform' to standards that it was easier to case conference me and get me out of the door! Despite sitting there in a full leg brace and unable to even get to the toilet sometimes! It was a long couple of years after the intial operation with then having my boys and further surgery to try and rectify some of the after effects of the extensive surgery that I had. I wasn't able to get fit again as I couldn't pass the fitness test, but that my mental health also deteriorated rapidly (without any warning) I later received an apology on how it was initially handled. The damage for me was already done.

The worrying part of PTSD is that it creeps up on you when you least expect it. I was hugely confident in the Police. I was invincible (in my head). I was a shout away from help and could run into danger without even thinking too much of the consequences later. That sudden death, the domestic situation, the car crash, the murders.....I wore a uniform that I felt made me feel I could cope with anything that was thrown at me. However, my brain was ticking away, slowly..... ready to go pop when I wasn't prepared.

I started to become anxious about the simplest things. It started small to start off with...Meeting people in large groups for start. I used to be hugely sociable, getting rather drunk and not a care in the world! However, it became an issue for me. I couldn't keep up with the people around me. I started profiling people when I went out and felt like anything would kick off in a heartbeat. I stopped going out. Even with my husband it became an issue. I would make excuses to eat at home. It was safe there. I could protect myself and him.

I worked on CID for a bit at Portsmouth, and started to have to keep my back to the wall when I was in the station. I found I wasn't going to jobs as much as I wanted too, i would avoid at all costs attending anywhere and instead calling them on the phone. I was light duties anyway because of complications with my leg. I was becoming anxious about not being able to get out of the station if a fire broke out, if a terrorist came into the room....if something happened...anything! I just wanted to scream out some days that I was worried, but I couldn't.

It was November 5th 2018. Yes Bonfire night. I was sat at home with my husband. Fireworks had never been a huge issue for me prior to this so this night came as a complete shock. By this time I was a mess to be honest. I was struggling not knowing what was happening with my job, and in the midst of a retirement battle from the Police. We were sat there one minute, and in the next moment a huge bang occured and I was an absolute mess. I was saying to my husband, they're coming, they're coming. I was absolutely convinced that Terrorists were coming to get my family. I was shaking and grabbing hold of my husband and absolutely besides myself. My husband didn't know what to do but managed to calm me down. The fireworks continued one after the other, and I was convinced that people were getting shot outside. In my head it was a terrorist incident. To an outsider reading this, it makes absolutely no sense at all. But in my head it was real.......

The following day, i went to see the doctor to explain what had happened and the lead up to this. I was diagnosed with PTSD.

I thought to myself, this happens to people of war. I had heard about PTSD but not that I would have known much about it. Speaking to the doctor about everything that had happened, they said I pretty much ticked off every symptom of it and I was put under reviews every 3 weeks for my welfare and placed on medication.

As time went on, the medication numbed me, but detached me from the real world. My head went into a whole world of confusion. I felt vulnerable. I couldn't go anywhere without worrying and over catastrophizing every situation I was in, so I stayed at home, avoiding people as much as I could. Co-ordinating AOK from home as much as I could and fretting everytime I couldn't.

It was now 2019 and it was all becoming too much. I had submitted my retirement request and it was hard getting answers, or answers would come from 4 different people all telling me different things. I just wanted to get out of the job. By this time, I was having nightmares every night. Dreams of not being able to escape, dreams of the worst case scenarios that could happen to loved ones. Nightmares of being not able to leg had produced such a vulnerability that I just couldn't escape. Pain by day, nightmares and sleep paralysis by night. I was in a state. I was desperate. I contemplated suicide. As I write that I feel a sense of shame, but also sadness. Sadness that I considered for a moment to lose my life to stop the pain. I didn't want to end my life, I just wanted the pain to stop, to give my head time to breathe. I became so poorly in my own head, nothing could be rationale even if I tried. I tried to talk myself into sense however all I could feel was that lonlieness overwhelming me that I couldn't even talk to my husband. That I convinced myself that my children would be better with a mum that wasn't so miserable and so sad all of the time.

Little did I know that I wasn't actually that miserable, and I wasn't actually unwanted! That day was the lonliest I have ever felt, but surrounded by people that loved me no matter what. That loneliess exists. You can be surrounded but still feel lonely. That is why Mental Health is so dangerous and it is so so important to reach out regularly to those around you and support any changes in behaviour by picking them up on it.

Thankfully that day a voice came into my head and told me to get out of the House! I was alone in my thoughts, and that was dangerous for me. It is why I keep my head busy now. I got out of the house and drove around for several hours. I went to the church the following day and spoke with the minister there. I actually made an excuse saying I was there about a sound desk that had been put in the way of one of my exits (I routinely sat in the same chair). The minister said to me - you're not here about the sound desk are you, do you want to talk?? I spilled my guts. Little does he know, how he saved me that day. I will be forever thankful he was there in the church that day and that I could offload. It gave me time to breathe and see the situation from a different angle.

It was then I began to grieve.....I found that the Police was a bereavement for me. I couldn't let it go. I was stripped of an identity I had known for so long. It was panic, it was sadness, it was anger, it was confusion, it was a sense of loss of belonging. I started to open up and seek help.

This was where I met Bert..........

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