I have PTSD. My illness developed as a consequence and directly from a protracted situation whilst I was serving in the police. I was bullied – even now I’m scared to go into the details but it would be fair to say I felt my life was at risk due to the nature, depth and extent of the bullying. And that is absolutely no exaggeration.
The bullying resulted in me being medically retired. I was devastated. Back then I was diagnosed with having depression rather than PTSD. However as the years went by my undiagnosed symptoms worsened and deepened. I had depressive episodes but there were a whole load of other symptoms which I put down to anxiety, OCD, low self esteem, lack of confidence and even the menopause. Consequently over the last 20 or so years the way I have lived my life has been very limited due my symptoms of my mental illness. There have been so many situations on so many levels where I have been unable to function properly. I have lived with the thought that I was a failure for a very long time.
At the end of last year I hit a very low dark point – I had no idea why I felt so mentally unwell and was very scared of my behaviour and thoughts.
At the beginning of this year I received a mental health assessment and was diagnosed with PTSD, depressive disorder and OCD from the intrusive thoughts.
In many ways I was actually relieved! It was almost reassuring that even though I felt so ill I had a diagnosis to work with.
20 odd years of suffering and unprocessed trauma has manifested itself in a way that I feel I am unworthy, incapable and a failure, this in turn has taken a toll on my self confidence, self belief and self esteem. Ultimately I feel ashamed.
To put this feeling of shame into some kind of context, I have extremely self conscious, I tell myself how awful I look, I cannot get dressed on bad days, it’s just too painful to face the negative self talk. I would say it’s a type of body dysmorphia.
I joined IODPA for support and advice. The team have been so helpful. The group has been such a safe place to share some difficult stuff.
I started EMDR back in April and the therapy has helped me process the original trauma, however part of my healing is to try and get to a place when I can say ‘I’m OK and Im good enough “.
So I chose to train and run a 10k. This has challenged me on so many levels. My instructive thoughts, my self believe, my shame, my body image and my self esteem . I haven’t had to just work on getting fit, it has been so much deeper than distance training, it has been about putting on running gear and accepting how I look, it’s been about self belief and not to feel ashamed of who I am.
I also wanted to make my challenge more meaningful and pledge £100 to IODPA. I want the money to help support someone like myself.
I’m telling my story with a view it might help other injured officers. I’m not saying I am better but I can say that I am getting to a place where I can say “I’m okay and I’m enough” and that includes embracing my PTSD. It’s part of me.