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Tips on dealing with PTSD

This ones a toughy... I'll be honest, I'm still dealing with mine. All that BS about "Time cures all"... Whatever. Time makes it worse for some people. Most of this is coming from Iraq. But a few are from the states. I won't get into details for the easily offended or grossed out woman/wives on here. But for those still dealing and have found a non-prescription way of dealing with it. I'd be more then happy to hear what you've tried. And for the love of god and all that is holy don't tell me therapy... I will find you... and I will beat you senseless with my phantom flashlight...

Drive on...


  • Hey brother, idk if there is ever a cure bro..its seemed it got worse for me as time went by and the more stuff i got into on the job. Anger, depression, suicidal intentions, the act of i dont care, and hallucinations here and there, the worst was drinking. There is a website called code 9 officer needs assistance, i watched the trailer and totally was amazed. My own Help was Alcohol class, lil bit VA, and reconnecting with family,friends and kids. i got out of the law field for a while. 07 to now im getting back in again, but im actually scared i wont be the same. I was in Iraq in 03 wit CEB 1st Marines so i do hear you loud and clear. I have this dream all the time, it was a shooting as a cop but it was like as if we where in the sandbox, tan cammies, rifles, and Haji suspect but i was with my patrol brothers and we where on the streets. Like i said Loud and Clear bro..!
  • edited 7 Dec 2012
    Hey bro I hear you, I was never in the military but I had one of my squad mates die in my arms. What really helped me was talking...... not to a shrink but to other guys that got my situation.... also eatting really healthy and getting regular massages... u can't hold stuff in, that is what is going to kill you.... man up and talk to someone....believe me it took me a long time to talk but when I did, I finally slept at night. Trust me its the best thing...even call me I will listen.
  • I was never in the military either, but I was shot in the line of duty. I find that talking to other people who let you vent and listen even if they don't fully understand helps. I also joke about the injury and keep a light heart so that I don't dwell on the fact that I am permanently deformed. I work harder to accomplish most things and find that the more I work and the more I accomplish the better I feel. And acupuncture for pain has helped a great deal.
  • Comedy... you gotta be able to laugh... it helps with the day to day... but like brownskies said ~ not sure if there is a cure... alcohol is surely not the answer. you can destroy so much more than the temporary numbness can hide.

    due to PTSD, I live with a failed marriage, a kid I only get to see every other weekend, borderline depression, no stable relationship after 2 years of being divorced, a failed career (the one I always wanted to be in since I was a kid), overweight due to depression symptoms & a back injury... blah blah blah...

    I am with you on the therapy thing... I went while trying to save the marriage (& figured they would also address the PTSD). Family counseling, Marriage Counseling, Individual sessions... one counselor told me that I was "just in a f*$ked up situation & there was nothing wrong with me & didn't know what else to tell me"... I stood up, shook their hand & told them "then I don't know what I am paying you for" & left.

    I tried natural remedies (before trying the Rx drugs) for the borderline depression, didn't notice enough positive results from it & wasn't going to play the Dr's game of upping the dosage over & over... I just didn't refill the last prescription & have never been back to see him.

    I am not anywhere near suicidal, but I definitely know when I am in an introverted mood...
  • edited 9 Dec 2012
    I know exactly what you mean about the "therapy" suggestions, LOL. Everyone likes to throw that one out there. Honestly, though, there is no one way of coping with what you are feeling right now.

    When I got home, life for me seemed to be out of control and as it turns out it was me that was out of control. Depression, anger, even guilt - all turned inwards on myself. All that emotion exhibited itself in reckless behavior that not only put me at risk, but my family and friends as well. We're talking tens of years here in dealing with this. My most recent experience with PTSD has been as a booking officer for a sheriff dept. Although people literally try to kill you on a weekly basis, it strangely felt natural to me. Like the lines were in place again - it was them... against us. Even the bond between officers was like in the military. There became a separation of my civilian life and my life as a deputy I can't really explain. Like I was two different people. At home, I never spoke about my work (it probably would have scared everyone anyway), but I never brought any of the emotion from work home, either. In some small way, I think that I was reliving my former military life. Unfortunately, there are a lot of political issues in law enforcement that make life miserable for good officers and I eventually left after only four years of service. I truly loved law enforcement and miss it, but the extra BS that come with it were simply too much.

    For me, it was like a light that came on. I looked at where I was not just physically, but in all things - emotionally, relationships, etc. and I realized that I wanted to change. I was READY to change. Not just for me, but for them. I became repurposed and refocused on what was the most important thing in life for me: My wife, my family and my friends who are as much my family as anyone could possibly be. I drew my strength from those relationships and still do.

    If you do anything at all, at the very least speak with other veterans. There is a bond you share that most civilians really don't understand. I would add that that same bond is shared among law enforcement, fire dept. and rescue as well (which, coincidentally, are staffed by many veterans). Sometimes hearing them talk about their experience can help.

    I can't give you any specific answer on your situation. Everyone is different. But I sincerely hope that your posting here is the beginnings of your own "light turning on" and you continue to seek the answers that you need.
  • PTSD is a topic in the LE community that is hidden under the rug. No one wants to talk about it. The problem is that without talking about it you can't prevent it or help it. This career lends itself to developing PTSD and aggravating this because we constantly deal with life, death, threats to our own safety, and the miseries of the world. PTSD goes hand in hand with depression as well.

    Lt. Grossman wrote about PTSD in "On Combat." This was a good read and well worth the time.

    The really scary thing about it is that a lot of officers suffer from PTSD. They go through their careers with all the symptoms and nothing is done because they are afraid of the stigma that comes with it.

    A while back I heard a high ranking official at a police department talk about his dealings with depression. He talked about going into counseling and taking medications. This person had a masters in counseling too. It was the bravest thing that I have witnessed.

    These problems aren't easily fixed. It requires a lot of work and it requires a combination of different things. Talking to friends, family, people you trust, and people that will listen and not judge. There is nothing wrong with counseling but you need to find the right counselor. If you go through your EAP it is confidential and free. If you combine all of these things in the right way, along with not eliminating the possibility of temporarily taking medication, it should help.

    According to Grossman, a big step in preventing it is Critical Incident Debriefing. He outlines out the proper way to debrief in his book "On Combat." If this is done correctly it does help in preventing PTSD, but it may not be the end all be all.

    Time will not help if you aren't doing the right things. Time will make it worse if things are left untreated. Do yourself a favor, read about the subject, study it, learn about it, learn what triggers you, and identify your own plan that will help you. PTSD is like any physical injury, you need to treat it and some physical injuries can't be treated with a band-aide.
  • Don't let any other officer who hasn't had experience with or suffer PTSD smash your head against a wall...

    I have had officers send me through the wringer trying to find something 'wrong' with me because I wanted to take down offenders who abducted and murdered a minor. Everyone has their own way of coping, everyone is different, some, it's alcohol/substance abuse, others respond well to counselling, others, medication, some just dig themselves deeper into the job.

    Don't get me started on ego-tripping counsellors with their head up their arse telling you what you should and shouldn't be thinking. The kind with no LEO experience. The civilian way of thinking and the LEO way of thinking are completely different. If you find a good counsellor who 'gets that', hold onto them, worth their weight in gold.
  • Hey brother im back, just wanted to say i liked what badger said, we totally share the same kinda process and experience. I agree with russellgarrard too, i had the experience of what he's talking about. Nobody understanding and treating like your crazy. My department had young leaders and no experience in the situation, i was the first officer back from deployment. The first year was okay, loved life and was typical rookie chasing anything and trying solve every case. So one night during a shots fired call in one of the projects, were walking and creeping in the dark and i swear its almost like patrolling in Iraq because were in a southern secluded area of Arizona, desert and dark. Im walking and i hear a distant boom. To me it sounded like arty, but because my mind knew i was a cop on a call i gather it as a shotgun blast. So i advise my bk up and dispatch i got shots fired. we dont find anything and move on, i get back to the office and im BS with Sgt. who was a no experience shit bird cop and she got by with mirroring other supers and reading a whole lot of what i should do books. I jokingly tell her abt what i heard and that i realized it wasnt shots fired. Instead of talking to me about it, she STFU and went to patrol commander. Next thing i know i was put on desk duty, they took all my weapons and sent me to some bullshit counselor who had no freaking clue. I started drinking even more and felt stupid that they treating me like i was a crazy homicidal maniac. I went to my counseling and played like was better and was happy i got my weapons and bk to the road...that there alone would piss anyone off, after that i couldnt trust any supervisors and became even more angry and rebellious ...spiral upwards, will eventually come down.
    Thanks for listening guys, hadnt told that story in a while.
  • I have to agree about a lot of counselors not understanding the LE way of thinking. This job changes you and we see the world differently because of it. It is almost like there should be a specialty for counselors who deal with LEOs.
  • I think one of my favorite lines from a psychiatrist (never served, both military or the police side) "You did what you had to do..." ...Really? I had to kill 3 civilians? I had to? ...And the guy who over dosed on any pill he could find who stabbed himself 5 times walked to the bathroom and back and stabbed himself 3 more times before bleeding out all over me and my partner and dying on the way to the hospital... You know what I went through? Shove it. I don't give a shit what you piece of paper nicely framed on the wall says. Experience speaks louder then reading a bunch of books and studies on the subject. ...Some things will never be forgotten. Working on my anger, depression and nightmares. Unfortunately I know this is a battle I'll have to fight the rest of my life. It's really nice to know that their are men and woman out there fighting the good fight everyday with me. Thank you, all of you.

    Ps. I'm not a bro :D

    Drive on...
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  • I have never met (save one) a psychiatrist that I would trust farther than I could throw them. I had several psych evals done in the Army for security clearance purposes, and one for my PD work. The one for the PD eval is the one I could trust. No BS, no agenda.
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