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Trigger Diary

Today i have been taking part in Art therapy which has been running as an extra to my EMDR , i found the art therapy really good to be honest in this case. I have found this therapeutic in drawing about my emotions which has been really impactive. I have found using the different art techniques, painting, collage, drawing etc has been really good to draw current mood and has been a good release of heightened emotional energy.
So to update for the last two days i have noticed an improvement in my mood and alot of the dark clouds have been removed. I felt like a massive cloud has been lifted or weight from my shoulders.

I believe the inner child work on Monday has had quite a significant impact, more energy and everything seems a little easier which seems a good sign of the healing that is taking place at the moment in time.

I am confident and now since seeing the results I am confident the recovery is going in the right direction.

Several events have come up from my childhood which I am now going to process during my therapy to be honest.

I am also learning alot more about my past history as a child from speaking to my parents which has led to a greatetr acceptance of my childhood. I had a good upbringing a few bumps along the way but i now understand on a deeper level that some of the events as a child ave led to some of my unconscious behaviours as an adult

Onwards and upwards . When stuck in the shit , it is difficult sometimes to see a way out but the small steps seem to be creating a new path with light
Since the therapy on Monday I have found that the PTSD symptoms are reduced. It has now become apparent that my ADHD (combined) has been coming to the surface with vengeance. Prior to the diagnosis of ADHD I was not aware of that I have the condition but the more therapy that I now do , the more I realise that how much the condition has affected my life as a whole and has made the PTSD very difficult and challenging.

Since doing to the inner child work I feel that now I have a deeper acceptance of myself and the conditons
So I am one week on from the break through inner child session. I have had to apply the handbrake because I dont want to get to carried away with my recovery process. I believe that I have moved up a level if PTSD recovery is a Mari Video came. I look at this as the old school Donkey kong Game with Mario. Jumping over barrels climbing ladders going up and up, sometimes a barrel will hit you , you try to jump over it but it was eitheir to fast or you werent timing it right.

Anyway I have more energy, things are slotting into place and I am connecting with alot more people. Things are getting easier and my confidence , self esteem are building at the moment.

I have a session today of EMDR regarding childhood work, looking forward to it to see what possible unconsciousness childhood memories I have forgotten about.
So following on from my Counselling sessions on Monday is was a consolidation exercise.

I had been doing an inventory of the trauma related incidents in work that I had been involved with and found that I have overcome much more than I realised. I have been doing group art therapy which I have found very powerful to be honest.

I feel that I have climbed the PTSD mountain , along with the ADHD mountain nearly at the top of both.

I have found there are a few child hood experiences to process so I felt that I am on the way out. My confident was high , self esteem was high as well to be honest in this case.

Praise from the counsellor that everything is now working in this case.

Then on Wednesday I was hit by best described as one of the most intense feelings of anger I have ever had in my own house. I had an argument with my wife last friday and we completely disagreed on discipline with our daughter. Now this led to my wife shutting down asking for space, again she asked again on Sunday. So I gave her the appropriate space and then my mood started to turn a ting bitter but battled through. Then she asked me to get the xmas decorations down from the loft. With this i felt the anger, it came on like a burning fire of rage. it caught me off guard and I was angry that after several days of not speaking she asked me. So did coping strategies and self care to explore this,

Then my body became in a state of fight or flight response, very strange, everything in my body was telling me to get out of the house.

So I was confused on Wed why this feeling was here , so just need immediate self care took myself away to be honest and reset. Then the feeling came back my own family home felt unsafe which has been my self place for many years.

I slept on this and to be honest it really scared me because this was very extreme, mixture of the ADHD emotional regulation overload.

So I booked and urgent counselling to explore the concept. Since doing all the trauma therapy and processing many incidents successfully. I feel there is alot of spare space in my mind to be honest. Then what I realised as if lightening had struck me is all the pain built up over the years in my marriage had hit me like a thunderbolt on wednesday. All the pain I suffered through several incidents in the past with my wife had come up. Now for the last 2 to 3 years my marriage has been hard and we have been surviving with an agreement that since my breakdown we would try to salvage / work on the marriage when I had got in a better place for my PTSD recovery.

So my brain has now decided you can have a but more to process while you are in state of elation over the PTSD work trauma. So with this I explored that over the last 5 years my mental health had declined , along with the slow decline of my marriage but we have worked continuously, now the the mention of being like friends was mentioned by my wife in 2019.

Now I expressed that I wanted to work through things with her as all of my feelings where there and she wanted to carry on and work on us.
Since this with my breakdown last year several incidents have happened with daughter being sexually assaulted, my mental breakdown and my wife's close step father passing only in June. On hindsight as a family unit we have been through alot of stuff and we have survived and healing.

Now I have realised since I have been in intergrative intense therapy I have changed alot since my breakdown for the better , I am more self aware of emotions, I have learnt about emotions in the body, the reasons why I think and do things, I have learnt extensively about my trauma and why I behaved the way I do in some situtation and not others.

This is all mixed with researching , support groups related to ADHD which is another beast. Unbeknowlingly whilst I have been changing, my wife has not been on the same journey as me.

Whereas now I have been dealing with stress and emotions in a more positive light, instead of bottling them up I will reduce the stress when it occurs and will be more kind to myself when the emotions come up.

So my triggers on Wednesday was a reaction to my marriage, my body was telling me to get out of the house because it felt in danger. This was based on my old anxiety threshold. My marriage has not been discussed with my counsellor but with the darkness cleared being newly made sort of speak. The problems in my marraige have now appeared front and centre. As a natural people pleaser, talker and empath I dealt with agruments in a different way I would remain calm in an arguement and supress my anger or emotions, I would people please and apologise even though I hadnt done anything wrong.

With this now the incidents what cause me issue in my marriage I have been dealing with in a different way but not realised, with my increased confidence , self esteem and finding my true self. I have been sticking up for myselfm challenging alot of my wife's behaviour compared to the old me!!! So I worked out the issues.

With this because I am living in the same house as my wife , she has been a supportive figure in my recovery but now I have realised some of her behaviour has hindered / slowed down my recovery. Over the last 3 months I have had to install boundaries with her when i was triggered, I have done this as second nature to protect my mental health.

So by challenging her behaviour at my sense of injustice where in the past I didnt that has caused the classic stonewall last week. My behaviour has been upsetting her because she shuts down. She has used the classic stonewall technique before and regardless of the issues I would try heart and seoul to rectify even though I hadnt done anything wrong. Now with the the new me, I have read the situation and reacted more healthier for me and differently.

So this carried on thursday and she was still stone walling, so i decided to be honest with my wife to state I am feeling stronger more confident in myself but your recent behaviour of stonewalling has upset me, (past memories of hurt when she has done it in the past) i have explained i feel suffocated in my own house with you , i still love you and in love with and explained that I wanted to work on my marriage.

I said with not being in work at the moment I dont have the luxury of hiding behind anything so I am here asking lets work on our marriage to which I did not get a reply. With this response my heart started to bleed a little.

I knew deep down that the issues in the past are now front and centre and there is no avoiding them.

So I discussed issues with a lifelong friend and realised that I have put up with alot of issues in the past and they have now come back. All the emotions and memories have come to surface, but the new me feels that this is totally unjust and feel I needed to be treated with more repsect and acknowledged for the role I play within the family.

I feel at the moment I am in the middle of a storm but I am grounding just dealing with one thing at the time.

Now this morning I sorted the children out , nice run, really good mood only best described as a missle attack a complete crisitsm over a clothing issue with one of the children i took to school this morning. My reply was calm and I am not perfect, everyday I do my best, we make mistakes, I am not you. She hit the roof and I explained that she had stonewalled me for the last week and I couldnt read minds.

I was calm and then the verbal trirade continued so I defended myself verbally and calmly, so in that moment I felt unsafe in the house again. I have challenged her behaviour and put my point across. Then I realised driving that she onky identifies the negatives all the time with me and makes them into a big issue!!

I then messaged her saying she is very quick to forget all of the positive / good things that I do , that is how I feel. She responded to saying she tells her work colleagues I am a great dad.

So now I have tried to engage , I am really down, low mood, I have in pure survival mode. Self care, being kind to myself is high. I have a list of friends I can ring if I need them.

I am so afraid of my mental health crashing again after the all the larger than life effort I have put into my PTSD recovery. I am worried if I stay in my relationship within the house my health will crash again. I am protecting myself at the moment.

With everything in my life I put my heart, body, mind , soul into everything especially my wife and my children. For my wife not to even be on the same planet as feelings as me , is a heart wrenching emotional experience. ( this is the thought I have in my head) Due to her showing no intimacy , no reassurance being quiet I am reluctant to catastrophrise which is one of my old enemies. But I am not stupid or navive to now feel there is a major issue here.

There is only so many times you can shown deep rooted emotions, affection mostly rejected , words of love and share my feelings to have practically nothing in return. With this I am exhausted of pulling my heart out to the woman I love , the pain of rejection is deep. I want to protect myself from any more heartache. If she come to me and reassures me over the next few days then we may have a chance but I cant be two people in a relationship. It is mostly likely time to take this solo.

I am very disappointed that the lady I have been with for over 16 years ( 10 married , two children ) has not positively reassured me that she

a) wants to work at the marriage
b) loves me and still wants to be with me

I dont want to overreact but my gut, my hear, my brain is telling me that the writing is on the wall, maybe I should leave before I totally crash again with my mental health and now breath !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So here I am Friday 25th November 2022 a week later and what a week it has been.

So a week later I am emotionally drained, bit battered and a bit bruised in my head and emotionally.

Expanding on my potential high anxiety moments , the storm is still present ie I am still in it but have adjusted to it.

Compared to last week there is a small improvements, Mandi is now talking all be in a civil manner. We are not arguing, I try small talk, Hello , small pleasuranties but no response. Okay I thought two ways to go here I can pack up and f*ck off!! Hmmmm

That would not achieve anything at all, so I have changed my headspace, I will for the time being change my mindset. In the past stonewalling has destroyed me but with all my therapy and new tactics acquired I can perservere. I have given my wife time, space, very much wide berth breathable room.

We have been talking only about the children , ie school, pick up times, school routine and the cat!! Now this has only been few and far between so better than last week. All the anger has subsided and the unplesantries have gone.

So the high anxiety of last week subsided on Tuesday actually, I am now comfortable in this enviroment, I am doing the routine with the children, socialising with friends, socialising with my parents and support groups. I am alo still doing EMDR and art therapy so I am not unoccupied. I am not giving up my journey even in this time of storm.

So on Monday just gone would describe as one of my darkest moments but because of the journey I have been on it was a moment of clarity and growth.

I have come to realise that my wife is no doubt suffering badly with depression, burnout due to working nights, shift work and unstable diet. I believe she has hit a wall called 'compassion fatigue' which I have had several times my police career where you essentially are like a robot , shut down emotionally and go 'numb' ie breaking point. I feel that stepping back further , further away gaining a more wider perspective.

Through the 19 months since my breakdown there has been massive , life changing growth in me due to the high intensity of my therapy and personal work. I have changed alot in myself , more confidence, self aware of my conditions the world around me. With this I am more connected with myself and the world around me.

I feel now that to be honest my wife has in the last 18 months seen the very best , very darkest of me mentally. Now this for any human being is alot to take, a person who has supported me throughout it all doing her best, even though she hasnt fully maybe never will what has been going on with CPTSD she has been there in key moments.

When the support from her was effectively withdrawn this was not a personal attack but one for her to withdraw for I now believe her own sanity and mental well being. To be honest I cant blame her we all have our threshold , mixed to the fact 5 months ago , now in the present I am in full time therapy Dad and house husband (temporary) so i have been in my families life in a physical aspect alot more. Now all these factors combined I am not suprised this has not happened earlier.

My post last week was made I would call in the eye of the storm!! On Monday I had a good day, then I felt some anger occur later in the day, I had a really bad intense arguement with my 12 year old daughter. I had to draw support from my mum so I could have a break from the children.

No problem my wife came back from work, I tried twice to talk to her and she just ignored me. Then for some reason, all my insecurities came flooding back, not good enough, poor , all my fault. For an hour I was crying the corner of the bedroom effectively broken or so I thought. There was a serious issue here, I was looking for hotels, hostels , places to stay I staring at my suitcase.

The suicidal thoughts have in very strong, maybe I would be better off dead cant do this again. Then something shifted, I thought wait a minute this is how I am reacting to this situation, clearly she is on another level and headspace. She walked past whilst I was in the corner of the room. I have learnt through interaction with other people that a) should not guess what others have been thinking b) not come up with crazy conclusions about what other people are thinking , now this led me to think i have been second guessing what she has been thinking,

When the stonewall has occured this has bene her self defence mechnism throughout our time together, which has not changed. Throughout this I was insecure about what she was thinking etc etc. Then the thoughts of suicide stopped, the anxiety stopped and there was a moment of clairty. A change in perspective. Also what did occur is a strong sense of upset from a previous relationship when I was 19 years old.

Now when I had the intense moment of anger , within the moment last wednesday there was also flashbacks, thought about the previous relationship with an ex of mine in 2002 to 2003.

Now there was the same thoughts then when that broke up because i was effectively just cut from the relationship in a quite raw manner, relationship over that is it. From this I drank heavily,
So with this I drank heavy on this occasion for 2 weeks, self harmed in my bath, I had daily thoughts of suicide in this case. When I reached out several times to reconcile the relationship I was burnt , no answer or rejected, the emotionally connect at time was strong, 1st love, ADHD , young navive all in sort of speak , no experience of relationship and to be cut off in the that manner is quite tough ( obviously looking back now). This led me to drink heavily she didn’t reply to my messages and then I went to the bridge to commit suicide, stepped over the otherside, looked down at the motorway below, felt a sudden thunderbolt through my body of what the f*ck.

I then got back over the bridge and then walked home broken but had a reality check, she is not worth that.

So anyway with that (the bridge was explored within therapy. Now with this there was also another factor of which was a fear of detachment from people not just in intimate relationships but also friendships. With this that led me to people please, doing things that I didn’t want to do , apologise for things when infact I didn’t do anything wrong , this was when infact my own confidence and self esteem was linked to the emotions of others!!!!!

I am not surprised that I was constantly depressed, suffered with confidence and self esteem issues, during the therapy the last 18 months I have been slowly but steady building my own source. With this I have felt that I have been stronger because of it.

Now going back to Monday I had effectively not processed the toxic past relationship, this was how I felt during this relationship, the same patterns continued for 20 years. All be it my marriage to the beautiful Mandy is very different, respects me, treats me as a person and brought out the best in me in this case, she has been a great person to me.

So I spoke in therapy briefly about the past ex in 2003 whilst really honestly f*cked me up massively to be honest.

Now when I processed this memory all of the following came out

  • Physical abuse- balls being grabbed + twisted pain
  • Emotional abuse – not good enough, worthless, your are nothing , selfish , no compassions
  • Sexual abuse – issues about performance, commets etc
  • Shut down emotionally being cut off
  • Jealously which led to her checking my phone on regular occasions, texting other women ie removing them in this case
  • Me being insecure about myself
  • Manipulation about not seeing my own family
  • Very controlling about what to wear, who to see and friends, effectively wanting me all to herself.
  • Sex as a weapon
  • Sexual transmitted disease
  • Used as a plaything , piece of trash then tossed to the side with no thought otherwise

So through this the emotional connection was very , very deep in this case , heartbreaking.

Now this was 90 mins of the most intense EMDR therapy session that I had ever taken part in, it was like a full blown exorcist in this case , emotions cant breath, crying , angry

Therapist stated

: Narcassist behaviour

You were a victim of abuse

Toxic relationship

You were young, vulnerable , it was not your fault.

I had to her to repeat the words several times, I was defending her saying we were young but the therapist said she knew very well what she was doing the whole time.

I went through denial with the therapist to defending saying

  • As a bloke this is hard to hear
  • Police officer- hard stuff that didn’t happened to me
  • I am a victim of abuse, domestic violence
So I defended her me, we were young, now I stopped thinking, she repeated the words over and over, I took times to process let them sink in and when I looked at all the traits patterns, behaviour I instantly became angry and hated her, I blamed myself for letting this happen in the first place but she said not your fault ADHD, young vulnerable, first relationship.

Now I realise why I behaved in close relationships the way I did

This has messed you up which has had everlasting effects on your behaviour.

In my opinion a 19 year old PTSD which effectively resurfaced when Mandi shut down, led to the insecurities and all the other thoughts.

I had buried this only for the aftermath to resurface of key moments within my relationship at the moment.

Eureaka and a moment of clarity, I released this demon of the ex and banished her to the underworld , after the therapy I was relived , more space in my head but f*cked!!!

I am finally coming to the final pieces of my being and understanding me
So it has been around 2 weeks since I have updated the dairy, there has been no more triggers to do with work related related PTSD or my own personal demons.

I have made peace with several traumatic events in the past and processed these accordingly.

I have come to the point where I have met , smashed through my previous goal which was to process all the work related PTSD, my previous list of over 20 incidents manifested into over 50 more. I have done some thinking and I have realised (ADHD kicking in) that I will never be perfect in this case and this is an ongoing process.

I have become bit empty inside , not a numb in the emotional sense but like there is a gap in my life where my work used to be. So I have realised that I miss a work environment. I do not want to return to the front line of work because that will never go away, ie it will always be there. I need to write the next chapter of my story with something different.

So I am going to return to work in Mid Feb 2023 with regards to an admin job , this will limit the exposure to the material, emails etc in relation to my work related PTSD. All the triggers that I had previously had issue with have now been tested and there has been no reaction, ie a controlled environment at home. This was the main goal of the EMDR therapy to process the trauma which has caused me so many issues. In work who knows but I have decided this will be the last try with work, it has taken several hundred hours of various stages of personal growth to get to this stage and scared of a relapse. If i become ill again then I will maybe have to look for another job outside of the force with medical retirement an option.

I have managed to get support from several other people at work who will support / protect me on my return, ie putting me in a department as a collar number. So with this I will expect to be fully intergrated back into the work environment.

On personal level i am slowly giving myself lot of credit for the amount of work I have put into my recovery, without meeting all this headon I wouldnt have got to this stage.

I have grown to accept each condition for what it is and embrace it, this has enabled me to become myself a true character to be honest in this case. I am feeling alive and free, my baseline anxiety has also reduced to a more comfortable level. Stress has reduced and also overthinking about the smallest of lives problems.

In art I did a postcard with me riding the waves on a surf board, sometimes i would ride the wave , other times I would fall off and try again.

The phase ' Ride the wave , enjoy the ride', I wrote the postcard to life 'thanks for the challenges , keep them coming'.

I have come along way in the recovery and will keep ongoing , i found a key phrase which sums everything up perfectly 'Post Traumatic Growth '
Today I write this exactly one month from my last entry in this case!!
I have seen my psychiatrist who did my initial diagnosis and he is very pleased with the progress and has stated I have been in the high percent of patients with recovery.

With this I have pencilled in a return to work on 15th Feb 2023, my doctor explained with my ADHD I have show emotional maturity around this as well as PTSD , hearing this made me proud that my recovery has been working in this case.

This is real untanigble proof that the work I have put in has been working. The doctor has adviced about ADHD medication which would be life changing. I have seen first hand that the symptoms are ever more clear and present after discovering my own emotions, body and reactions after learning about the condition. He has suggest medication for an even better quality of life which I am going to try.

As part of my return to work plan I have been happy to type my own opinions and part of the process I have specifically asked for a Admin role which will minimise the risk of any exposure to any triggering events. Even thought the PTSD symptoms are dramatically reduced in this case I am under no illusion that the journey is not over and I could very well be walking back into hell with work!!!! But with this I know I have to try and run the risk otherwise I will be wondering all of my life thinking 'What If?'.

So I told the work doctor that at the moment I felt that I do not want to take part in a front line role as I am conscious of a relapse and this is in the back of my mind !! This would be naïve not to be honest.

I need to face the demon of work, I need to try, I feel that I cannot learn anymore , etc without returning to work as the next step. I feel the time is now and to give it a try. I am riding the wave and going on the ride which I am looking forward to.

The issue I had yesterday when I saw the force doctor was I used the words I do not want to go on the front line!! Now actually saying those words hit me hard, the real meaning hit me emotionally I was overwhelmed. I had thought this, spoke to family about this but saying to a work doctor was real. For 19 years I have been front line but to admit this is not for me at this time is a good decision but this is metamorpasis phase, ie coming out my new me , new character, new improved. I am craving out a new version of me , improved bigger, better , badder. I went for a run and journaled in this case which eased the overthinking. I was in the moment and accepted this was a mixture of sadness and anxiety, a change which will be hard to accept but one which is needed.

From a man who has been to hell several times , I feel i have stepped out of the fiery pit and out a man hole cover it. I know I could go back there one day but if I do I will be fighting stronger and harder with more knowledge and awareness.

To whatever happened today, tomorrow bring it on , we will ride the waves!! To the past I have made great decision, I have learnt , i have cried I have laughed, I have had suicidal thoughts because of you but most of all you are part of me and I now accept you as part of me.
So one week on from my force doctor and Psychiatrist I have decided to give medication a go for ADHD , I am in a good place mentally at the the moment in time.

I am going to start them on Friday and agreed if they improve the quality of my life this is great if not I will come off them.

So with this I have realised the ADHD symptoms effect me alot more because of the PTSD symptoms reduced , dormant etc.

I am returning to work om the 15th Feb, I have been turned down for an agreed administrative role which had been planned for my return so in this case I am returning to the old Burglary Unit. So with this I have been open and honest saying that I dont feel like a cop anymore and feel like Dave working for an organisation. All the police related enthusiasm seems to have been removed or sucked out of me. This is my natural guard coming up from all the trauma that I had put myself through within the job. I have agreed for a non frontline role and no pubic contact role to be honest.

I have agreed to do admin task such as vehicle cleaning , organising paperwork, cleaning my own drawers with a slow phase return over several months. I do not want to return to the front line and do not want to be exposed to a risk of a relapse to the frontline environment to be triggered or for the PTSD symptoms to become apparent again to be honest whether that is reading material or dealing with an incident.

I have broken myself off the several hundred hours that I have put into my recovery.

I have explained to work that this is the last chance saloon for me and if the panic attacks, high anxiety, triggers etc ie PTSD symptoms return then it will be time to close my locked and exit stage left out of the police.

I have a passion to return to work, a work environment , the people on the unit know me and my journey but the work I feel like an employee of an organisation when prior to all of this that happened the job was in my blood , live or die by the police ie do anything to help people but after my battle and resurrection , I have a new set of armour and skills and feel a change is needed.

So the next few weeks I do not know what is going to occur to be honest I am going to turn the page which is blank and go with it!!!

Onwards and upwards with the next chapter bring it on
So here I am 21 months from my mental breakdown, I have started stimulated medication for my ADHD. So far concentration , focus , irratability has improved. Alot of the ADHD symptoms overlap with PTSD. I can only think if I started this medication several months ago the PTSD journey would have not been as rock.

I have had one hours sleep, I had one table at 6am yesterday, but had 3 x cups of coffee, chocolate and a cake which seems to have raised the energy level and amplified the medication. So i am going to have to reduce my caffine and sugar intake.

I am happy that I am trying the medication as I am in a good place to start and try prior to going back to work, With several weeks without any panic attacks, had a small trigger 2 weeks ago but heavily reduced. The real test is when I get back into work to be honest and I am quite apprensive about going back.

I am in the best plan I can mentally and physically be at the moment, if panic attacks and triggers start again and are not manageable then exit stage left and new career.

I am hopeful all the hardwork I have put in the last several months will pay dividend in this case.

Work have agreed an appropriate plan of phased return which will ease me back and be
So after trying the stimulant ADHD medication I have decided to come off after 3 days. The medication had a strong effect on my body and I can say that I found this quite scary not to be in control of my body. The side effects were immense and the come down was very bad , immediate crash and tiredness.

So after several hours research on the condition, research papers I have noticed that my perceived day to day handling of ADHD symptoms is alot better than I had actually thought. My self awareness, emotional intelligence and awareness of my body response to certain stimulus us alot better than I have given myself credit for.

I have been 3 days now without the medication and this is the most normal I have felt since Friday. I had a caffeine dependency for several years and would have 3-5 cups of coffee a day without a second thought. During the last 2 years I think without really taking full notice I have developed a high sensitivity to caffine. I am not saying the caffine is the cause of my triggers, panic attacks but when I have had a bag triggers, stressful situation , high anxiety I believe now nearly everytime there has been some caffine in my system.

The triggers , the PTSD has been real but the caffine has amplified this , so I made the decision on Friday to go caffine free, I have had not had a cup of coffee for 4 days now. I am taking real care of my nutrition now , I am monitoring how this effects my anxiety levels. I believe this will help me , reduce my anxiety on the baseline and reduce the risk of any panic attacks by eating healthier