What Does The Most Uncomfortable Conversation Look Like In Law Enforcement?
Updated: Jan 24
It begins with you! It includes vulnerability, courage and allowing yourself to feel emotions that you have previously tried to run from. Those same emotions that you’ve spent years suppressing will eventually come crashing out. A dam can only hold for so long before it develops a crack. The coping skills we learned from childhood do not actually serve us in our career lives. Breaking these habits can be incredibly difficult.
We are going to remove the sheets, the impact of trauma on our Police Officers, Military and First Responders. How traumatic experiences shape us and impact our health. How it can inhibit healthy connection, community and conversation leaving us speechless at times while we suffer in silence. An emotional prisoner trapped in your own mind.
The goal is to share my experience in an effort to help you gain insight and awareness into your own journey. The topics will be controversial at times; however, they need to be had. Police Officer suicide, addiction, depression and anxiety are all issues we will face during the course of our careers that remain largely unspoken of. This needs to change.
How does one even begin to unpack such a topic? Where do we start? For a large portion of us we will read this and most likely dismiss that this applies to you. Denial is tricky beast. Alternatively, this belief that we may hold at the beginning of the journey that this won’t happen to us is often due to combination of naivety and lack of understanding.
Have you ever stopped to think where are you in your journey with awareness into your own mental health? How have those traumatic calls impacted you? Consciously and subconsciously. What is your plan when you enter crisis mode? What does your support system look like? Are you able to be vulnerable and courageous about where you stand in your mental health journey? What intense emotions have you pushed aside hoping to later process? Only unable to return to them due to the level of pain they create. We don’t often equate our emotional experience or lack thereof with a potential degradation to our mental health.
There is no shame in not being able or comfortable to speak about your own mental health journey. None of us have been taught how to do this. We are all stumbling our way through this incredibly complex minefield, many of us forging the path for the first time for ourselves.
Learning to bypass the massive walls we have erected to keep ourselves safe and keep people out is our first challenge. We’ve also woven in ideals that denial and an obnoxiously strong ego will keep us safe. Maybe we haven’t seen our own face in years as the masks we wear to cope with the environment we are in keep the pain at the door. Policing after all is an experience like no other. How could one be expected to endure years of traumatic exposures sometimes to the tune of thousands of events over the life time of your career and not be phased by it.
I hope these words leave you captivated. Your foundational health is built on the pillars of physical, spiritual, emotional and mental health! They are all interconnected and if one suffers they all suffer. Putting the mirror infant of yourself is the first step. We will not let you do this alone, but you do have to be willing to do the hard work. Trust me it is worth it!