My Story 2016

The Invisible Injury

Previous Post: Back to Pragmatism

So I jumped on to my bike and switched on the ignition….the red and orange light illuminated like some malfunctioning traffic light…..they were telling me to push the start button on the throttle.  I touched the switch as if I was caressing a much more sensitive button and the engine roared into life bellowing all its ecstasy from its scorpion exhaust.  There is something very romantic about having a hot and throbbing machine between your legs, especially when its 1200cc of Suzuki.  The British racing green machine was to be my ride back to pragmatism and it was the only pleasure I was to get on my first day back at work on Monday the 22nd of August 2016.

I pulled into the police station and found myself a park before sliding the helmet off my head.  I was now in a world that was very familiar but for some reason I was feeling very isolated….it was bloody unsettling and as I strolled towards the entrance I felt a flood of pressure rise up from my gut like some exploding volcano about ready to erupt.  Police stations are frequented by people who are filled with testosterone and  I wasn’t one of them as all mine had been purged from my body by the copious amounts of Citalopram I had been digesting over the previous four months.   My testosterone level was now zero and I couldn’t raise a pencil never mind anything else.   I wandered down to the changing rooms and my eyes ran rampant as desperation took hold and I longed to clap my eyes on someone who was familiar.  Someone I knew who would return me to some sort of normality and bring me back to reality.   I felt like a stranger and in a way I was..I hadn’t been there for nearly 15 years and its patronage was now people who were a lot younger than me.

What was I doing there….well I wasn’t going to do much.  It had been decided that someone who had suffered from depression like myself wasn’t equipped to work 8 hours a day and I was blessed with the luxury of doing half days, three days a week.  The Auckland Police took the advice of my psychiatrist and planted me at a desk where I could sit silently in my own little world and keep my head down.  Mental Health in the police is something that in some cases appears to be swept under the carpet…..there it can sit with all the other infestations….left to incubate until its time to hatch and take hold of its victim like some rabid dog who hadn’t had lunch.

I was a broken man when I arrived that day….sure I was recovering but I was nowhere near ready.  One of things about mental health is that you can’t see it and its that silent killer that circles around its prey like some vulture waiting for you to fall over so that it can swoop down and feed off whats left of you.  I wasn’t walking into the office with my leg in plaster or loosing weight at a rapid rate of knots, people couldn’t see what was wrong with me and I…….well I was the master of the illusion.   I knew how to perform in a police station….after 30 years of experience I knew that you don’t show your weaknesses in the police and to admit you can’t handle the job or life itself is not something that you want reverberating through the hallways of a station.

Be SoftWorking in a police station for me is a bit like walking on top of a water wheel… as long as the flow of water is nice and steady you can maintain your balance and walk quietly along minding your own business.  As the flow of water steadily increases and pressures of work and life begin to mount you start to walk faster and eventually start running as the rush of water has the wheel spinning at a rate of knots that you can’t handle.  Most of the time we can manage it and as the rush subsides you eventually return to some sort of normality.  For some…and me recently….they can’t keep up and eventually we fall flat on our face and the wheel whips us around and submerges us under a torrent of water. The wheel then churns you up and can either spit you out down stream or keep you completely submerged until it squeezes the life out of you.  I was lucky…the wheel spat me out down stream and gave me a second chance…some people I know weren’t that lucky and said goodbye to the pressures that tormented them.

So there I was…I walked into the office and was surrounded by people I knew…people who knew me when I was functional and had some sense of self-worth.   Now…..well I was carrying an invisible injury and the only person who was feeling the pain was me.  I was unsure about everything and when you suffer from depression you magnify your own insecurities to the point where you see nothing good in yourself.   The work I was doing added to my insecurities because I struggled to see any worth in what was I trying to achieve.   Don’t get me wrong it had nothing to do with the people or the police….they were good to me but I had a distorted view of myself and it was about to play havoc with my return to pragmatism.



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