11 thoughts on “PTSD: ‘The Dirty Little Secret of Law Enforcement’

  1. I’m proud to count Mark Dibona as an ally and friend in the fight for mental health awareness in the first responder community. The old guard line of thinking almost cost MY life – on more than one occasion. I heard things like “suck it up, and do your job,” “quit your whining,” and “maybe you were not cut out for the job.” The sad truth is I still hear those words today as a former LEO, an advocate for mental health rights and training, a PTSD survivor, and an alcoholic in recovery who is currently in graduate school to become a therapist for others in emergency services. The cold lips of the baby I tried desperately to breathe life back into still haunts me as do countless other calls to include an officer-involved shooting my first call, first day out of field training. The only way to create change is talk about the NEED for it.

    • Erika! Wow! Yes, talking about it and stories like this are ways to spark change. I never knew the intensity of the job until I started the process for this story. Thanks for sharing.

    • I did uc work in Canada for 16 years was terminated due to reckless behaviour it turned out the force knew I had ptsd I was not told and my life spiralled into drug addiction and homelessness now l am getting proper meds and treatment. Mine is all about a child actually two

  2. Ms. Thomas, as a retired police sergeant who spent 10 years in homicide I appreciate your article. It is a topic that has long been ingnored not just in law enforcement but for all first responders. Our world has changed as has the law enforcement profession. Personal opinion, some of those changes have helped the profession as a whole evolve from being guardians, as I was hired to be years ago, into warriors. And with that comes added stress. All most people see is a badge, behind and beyond the badge is what people need to know, the person. Real people with real emotions. I wrote my first book last year with that goal in mind. My book does not have the power to changes minds but perhaps by offering a different perspective it can open them. Articles like yours can only help educate. Thank you again.

  3. Wow! I’m amazed, Erika. Thanks for sharing. I’ve always been fascinated with police officers and simply how they manage the daily stressors of the job. I do believe it’s relevant to have this conversation so police officers can be better understood. Please share this story.

  4. This article is so important because it’s a window into the issues that officers face, a very serious life threatening one. I agree that officers that serve the community have to go to therapy. I believe your mental health is very significant especially in these times that seem to change drastically every second.

  5. I work therapeutically with First Responders including Police Constables and these wonderful people have been taught from day 1 to just “suck it up”. When they can’t suck it up anymore, when the horrors of what they have seen is too much to forget, there is such as sense of being a failure and “weak”. The message of “suck it up” has to stop being the go to coping strategy within the police service. PTSD is an occupational stress injury, and the longer the officer serves, the more likely he or she is to finally reach a point where they can’t carry any more human horror. As one of my patients described that feeling of having seen too much suffering, “My cup is full. I can’t hold any more.”

  6. Working in law enforcement you drink, become depressed, harassed by higher officials, no one to talk to because you are labeled as a problem, little sleep creating anxiety and panic attacks, develop eating disorders, very little family time at home, always in fear of making a mistake, fear of getting written up, doing a good job is bashed by coworkers, conversating with higher ranks is a No No, you hide your emotions even when hurting inside, you are a number, fearing of saying the wrong thing because you get reported, you live in fear of who to trust, no fitting in if you do not belong to certain groups, retaliation is a factor to control and in the end you ask yourself was it worth your time or was it about money Life sacrifices are real and so is the man in the mirror-you.

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