Previous Post: The Invisible Injury
My first few weeks at work were not easy and although I’d walked into work with a happy face I was actually suffering from a bad case of anxiety. Deep down I knew I hadn’t done the hard yards with my recovery and I was ill-equipped to deal with police work on my return on the 22nd of August 2016. The definition for anxiety is you over-state the problems that you face and under-estimate your ability to deal with those problems. That was exactly how I felt when I first stepped into the Fraud Squad office at Auckland Central Police Station. I knew I hadn’t taken steps to tackle my depression and those first few weeks were just me treading water and keeping my head above water…..the problem was I was destined to sink as soon as someone threw me any weight. That weight would come in the form of a simple break in my routine and that break sent me spiraling back down into my dark hole.
Initially I worked 4 hours a day, three days a week but even that had me feeling like I’d been hit with a sledgehammer. I’d get home, lie down on the couch and contemplate what the hell had just hit me. It felt like my life had been sucked out through my ears, leaving a vacuum in my head that had my eyes looking like piss holes in the snow. I couldn’t do a thing and spent hours trying to find that place people call mindfulness. Mindfulness, in my head was non-existent because I was chained to negativity and that negativity drove me to hate myself. It was all compounded by my feelings of inadequacy at work and that made me do things that had me hating myself even more. In the evenings I’d seek some solace by stuffing myself with carbs and alcohol hoping I’d get temporary relief from the self-inflicted stress I had put myself through…..in the end all I was doing was dragging my body into the same dark hole my head had been for the last four months.
So there I was for those first few weeks twiddling my pencil and making coffee. I started work at 7 am and finished at 11 am. I was initially tasked with going through the fraud files and assessing them for investigation. Now assessing fraud files is about as exciting as having dinner with your mother in law and the whole process just about had me slitting my wrists with my slide ruler. Its was a slow and painful process but it was all I was capable of doing without unscrewing my head from my neck. I never felt I was doing a good job and I continually questioned every aspect of my miserable performance. That’s what you do when you are depressed….you magnify all your mistakes and weaknesses and minimise everything that you have achieved. Even just going to work and doing 4 hours was an achievement but I couldn’t see that….I couldn’t magnify those little achievements that were big steps towards recovery.
So there I was wallowing in my own in-security and although the police were good to me and I appreciated the opportunity to slide back into police work I didn’t manage myself very well and when I walked into work I clean forgot that I was recovering from a severe case of depression. As a result I became my own worst enemy as my impatience and my longing to impress others had me deceiving everyone who was trying to help me. After 30 years in the police I had become the master of deception and like every other policeman I wasn’t going to show my soft under-belly because in our line of work that is an invitation to rip you open and leave you to the mercy of others, both in and out of the police.
So why did I try to hide the struggle that I was going through? I did it because I didn’t want to seem weak and I was so desperate to be like everyone else. I wanted to show everyone that I was recovering and that I wasn’t this weak washed out policeman who should have resigned years ago. That’s what I believed people thought of me and my weaknesses were what I was trying to hide but in the end I wasn’t hiding anything. It’s ironic because I was more than happy to talk about my problems with depression and I even started this blog in an effort to give people an idea of what I was going through but for some reason I felt ashamed of showing other police how it was impacting on my ability to do the job. I suppose I felt like a stranger because depression is not a welcomed visitor in a police station and if you suffer from it, you can be tainted for the rest of your career……
Categories: My Story 2016