March 27, 2015

When I first joined the police I used to see people in the job that seemed very guarded, very like a closed book.

I know it's the wrong way to think now, but I always felt "don't be weak, keep going, be strong" when actually that was the worst thing I could do because everyone's got their limit, and I had reached mine.

About two years ago I had a breakdown and subsequently I was diagnosed with depression. I was off work for about six weeks in total. For a long time I was getting panic attacks; my heart racing, I always used to think the worst was going to happen in any situation.

I didn't even know what was happening, I didn't realise at all. 

I didn't even know what was happening, I didn't realise at all. It was other people around me who were noticing little changes in me. I kept breaking down in tears all the time - it was like I had no filter on my emotions. I couldn't control it: I was snappy; I was grumpy; I was dreading going to work each day.

Eventually there was a bit of a straw that broke the camel's back moment. I was booked on a spa day, I thought this one day was just going to sort everything out and I'd be back to normal. But work cancelled the day I'd planned a couple of days before and I can remember opening that email and seeing that it was cancelled, I just broke down in front of everybody in the office.

When I was sick, my boss contacted me out of the blue when I was at home and sent me a text to say:

Lisa, just to let you know if there is anything you need. I've heard you are not going through a very good time at the moment, you can contact me.

It was like a lifeline, just that one little text. It is so nice if somebody contacts you like that - when you're not very well it can make a big difference, those tiny things are so important because they can stop people feeling so alone.

Mental health problems make you feel very isolated.

Mental health problems make you feel very isolated. I felt so guarded, with all these walls up around me. It's not like when you break your leg and everybody can see you've got a broken leg.

I was really nervous about going back, but when I did return my bosses were absolutely fantastic, I had a lot of support: most of my colleagues were very supportive as well, though a few people didn't quite understand it.

I want people to know it is okay and it is fine to talk about it. I think this is so important: everybody has mental health the same as everybody has physical health, sometimes you're well and sometimes you're not well, that's just the way it is.

It costs nothing just to talk to someone, at the end of the day it's just human compassion and it can make all the difference, it did with me.

Lisa

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