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Life after law enforcement

Discussion in 'Military & Emergency Services' started by JamesW, Nov 27, 2017.

  1. JamesW

    JamesW New Member

    I have new hobbies that calm my mind. I knit, sharpen knives (I want to forge) and play some video games. Since my hands are severely affected by my neck injury, I have to change what I'm doing all the time or wait for the swelling to go down.

    I was into hyper exercise before my physical injury and helped to a point. I'm also in my 3rd year of weekly counseling. I even saw a psychologist who was an expert in C-PTSD for 8 months. She taught me mindfulness and reminded me of combat or controlled breathing. I use those daily.

    As far as after the storm, I'm still in it so I'm not much help. I still shoot and it hurts me both mentally and physically. I wear ear plugs and ear muffs and it' not enough to keep me from jumping when my buddy shoots next to me. My startle reflex is up to 11 right now.

    I just started to diet and walk as much as I can. My walking buddy is a vet so we compare issues and problems for each other. It really helps alot to have someone who gets what you're going through even though our experiences are different. We both ended up in the same place.

    I have tons of info including summaries I've written about PTSD, I've read tons of books and watched all kinds of videos. If you guys want any of that, just send me a message and maybe we can talk through FB messenger or something. I'm still healing but I'll help you any way I can.

    Keep safe and that head on a swivel.
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  3. BigLeuch

    BigLeuch Guest

    I looked and only saw 800 numbers for help lines. Are you answering phones there?!!!!!!
    I have talked with personnel from many front line services and they say the urge to react lessens but doesn't go away. A close family friend is a Vietnam Green Beret vet and made my brother realize the benefits from talking to a professional therapist. He recommended I talk to one.
    After seeing my phycologist she related how my physical ailments can be from stress received at work. I was familiar with breathing techniques and internal monologue to help keep in control but those help after triggers have set one off. Recognizing triggers and avoiding them sucks: we are not people to hide or run from bad situations.
    So I think that when an operator can no longer professionally stand the line, they must find peace or justification with themselves not being there. I cannot find the pathway for feeling good about not being in service.
  4. Friday

    Friday Raise Hell Moderator

  5. JamesW

    JamesW New Member

    Did Watts give you my number? If not, get it from him. In the mean time, one of the most crucial parts of healing is recognizing the trauma/PTSD is a physical injury to your brain. It is the same as blowing out your knee or breaking an arm except that PTSD can be so much harder to treat/heal. Another truth to this idea is that not everyone is injured the same way as another person or not injured at all. Just as one's body condition may play a part in physical injuries, bad knees, bad back our lives play a part in how our mind is affected by trauma. You and I could experience the same trauma and have completely different outcomes. It's not that one person is better than the other, it just means we are different people.

    Not walking the line has been one of the hardest things to let go of after my injuries. It wasn't so bad after my hand but when my neck gave out, I was ready to go back into investigations at a DA's office. I actually got my hopes up only to have that door slammed on my neck a few dozen times. I will never stop being a deputy in my heart. I will always bleed tan and green but now, I just watch over my former trainees, try to guide them and keep them as safe as I can. That's my role now, the grumpy old timer who's been in the crap too. Find your purpose even if it' healing yourself. That can be a monumental task on its own. It has been for me. Then find your next adventure. Maybe something away from LE to gain some perspective. Volunteering at church has helped me. Don' give up though. You can make it through anything. I know that because you've already made it to this point.
    blackemerald1, Freida and ladee like this.
  6. Freida

    Freida Been There, Done That, Lived to Tell the Story Premium Member

    I did the dispatch thing and I was one of the best. I don't say that like "yea me", just stating a fact. I could track my units and plan ahead on what needed to be done, who was where and how to react when they screamed for help. When the ptsd from my military days started messing with my head and I started losing my skills I moved into training. If I couldn't protect my guys I was gonna make damn sure the next generation knew how.

    Then the ptsd won and I went out on disability.Now my guys are out there without me and I can't keep them safe. And it totally sucks. It was really hard for me to let go and I still jump when I hear sirens and automatically start planning what to do next.

    It took my Ts a long time to teach me that the ptsd injury had been there all along and that it had just festered and bled until it finally got big enough to swallow my life. Now my focus has to be on repairing the damage - and what I want doesn't matter. I can't go back - so I have to go forward ..... and figure out who I am.
  7. JamesW

    JamesW New Member

    Thank you so much for sharing that. I spent a little time in dispatch before I was medically retired. Dispatchers do not get enough credit for what they do and what they have to endure. It was torture for me to be in there and send my guys who I trained to hot calls and I couldn't be there to protect them. I can totally feel your pain.
  8. BigLeuch

    BigLeuch Guest

    I'm sorry to hear that from you JW, you are a detail oriented squared away deputy with the mind for the job but now a body that won't work for you. To have your next phase in life planned then get hit with physical conditions that stops you can be a demoralizing event! Hang tough brother!

    I rushed through physical therapy and was feeling good mentally because I had to be there for Alex because no one from the office showed up and I felt that all the "extreme ideas" I had would not be looked at as a joke. My thoughts were that I wouldn't just be some big brush ape from the mountains and all the specialized training I put myself through would be looked at as beneficial. But when I tried to bring the casualty care class to our guys, I was told it was outside the scope of our personnel. That was one of my early stress points where PTSD punched me in the gut and I started raising my voice at a him reminding him that the medical gear was my personal items and the training I used to save my partners life is in all our scope of work. I was telling him that they could never use the "it won't happen here" comment around me again!!!!!

    I took a moment to calm down and excused myself, after pushing for a change in training curriculum, I had to start acknowledging that a lot of things set me off. Then later the dreams started and I knew that something wasn't right. I went to my private care physician and started meds......blood work......change of meds..... blood work. Nothing is helping and I had to step away to try and get fixed up. I became less than my acceptable level for skills and abilities so I asked for time off as I don't call in sick and had plenty of time.

    After talking to the doc and filling workman's comp, I get a battle with the claim people and asked by brass if I'm trying to retire.........a--holes. I want to work but need to be right first. I get hyper vigilant when I hear sirens and will pull off the road and watch from a distance (just in case) when I see a traffic stop somewhere. My beautiful wife was watching a investigation show and I was doing okay until she asked questions..........ten minutes later I realized I needed to shut up.

    We are passionate fighters who don't want to stop because we hate feeling like we can't hang or quitting on the team. Then command staff does things to set one off and we are trying to calm down and enjoy the view from our roller coaster ride! I am still fighting with myself and have tried talking with a bunch of prior service personnel who say that if you don't have some point of disgust to help you walk away, then you will always look with love, want and desire to be back, young, ass kicking and going like hell!

    I'm in limbo trying to sort out my next move, I am sorry you are still in turmoil.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 1, 2018
  9. JamesW

    JamesW New Member

    I feel your pain, brother. Unfortunately, LE is light years behind on continuous mental health care and post career care as well. Their philosophy is bury it, drink it away or man up. Some of us know these are short term band aids for serious injuries that will eventually erupt in time. My advice is to think about it in terms of safety and be honest with yourself. Ask yourself "can I continue to do this job safely and effectively or am I not where I need to be?" Knowing what I know now, I should have left when I saw that kid get run over and he was dying in my arms. But I drank my way through it and did a few more years. Those extra years did more damage than the first 7. Be self aware and honest with yourself. If any part of your rational mind thinks it's not a good idea to go back, you need to listen to that quiet voice. There's a reason for it.
  10. Freida

    Freida Been There, Done That, Lived to Tell the Story Premium Member

    I've worked with those officers and deputies. The ones who didn't leave when it was time because they wanted to stick it out and not feel like they failed. And it broke my heart to see how hard they struggled just to not appear weak. It's not weakness to care for yourself. It's self preservation.
    IceQueencop, ladee and blackemerald1 like this.
  11. blackemerald1

    blackemerald1 I'm a VIP Premium Member

    When I first got diagnosed I asked the Dr 'how could I be so weak?'
    He said, 'Only the strong one's get PTSD...'
    There's more to the story but that was one part...
    IceQueencop, zebbidee, Freida and 2 others like this.
  12. JamesW

    JamesW New Member

    You have to have survived the trauma in order to be affected by it. Your survival is your show of strength.
  13. BigLeuch

    BigLeuch Guest

    An old timers that I knew growing up told me that "you can only have wisdom by surviving stupid shit"............damn the old. I remember my dad telling me one time that "all the things your doing.... you'll feel them someday". I was thinking "what do you know old man!!".....The things he survived to be an "old man" are now so prevalent in my face. LOVE THE OLD, THEY HAVE TIME AND RANK!
    I'm now in a mid-life crisis of how much more can I push? Do I just shut my mouth and walk away? Do I do something drastic? Can't do that until I'm right in the head to make extreme decisions.....just want to yell, do jumping jacks, push-ups and fight but when I do I'm so weak to what I should be.
    My cardiologist stress test was the other day and they told me that fallow up appointment would be three weeks away!! So leave me like workman's comp sitting at home staring at the walls!!!!!!!
    f*ck ME RUNNING BACKWARDS THROUGH A CORNFIELD!!! I just want to be squared away and it is such bullshit to get done!! My heart goes out to the other troops who stick with it and after their time is up they just think they will get past it! It never goes away but I hope it lessens to a level I can manage.
    IceQueencop and blackemerald1 like this.
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