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7 April 2021
As part of Stress Awareness Month, PC Claire Bond is sharing her story of how an assault on duty in 2018 led to years of physical, emotional and mental stress. This week, Claire speaks on the physical stress she experienced following the incident, and the support she received to help her manage this difficult time in her life.
I joined Staffordshire Police in 2001 and joined the Federation as a rep in 2018. I was always quite passionate from the beginning about changing people’s lives for the better.
However, on 23 September 2018, it was my whole life that changed when I was seriously injured on duty. In the blink of an eye, 17 years as a frontline response officer came to an end.
The stress that came with me being physically injured started pretty much straight away. I spent the next two years desperately fighting to return to a job I love and to be the person I was before my life was turned upside down.
The first year was all about the physical recovery. When my consultant said it would be 18-24 months before I could recover, I heard six months. I felt the need to prove how easy I could fix myself and get up and get walking. But the reality was I could hardly move as both legs were in braces. My husband had to help me to do everything and I spent three months having to live downstairs, with my children taking turns to sleep by my side. I felt utterly useless. I felt I was such a burden.
As time went on, the stress of trying to be upbeat to my visitors and trying to rush through the recovery process took its toll. I had to go on medication and accept that recovery was going to be for the long haul. I began to avoid people, I used the word 'fine' a lot and I started to suffer anxiety attacks. I couldn't understand it - why would my body not do what I wanted it to?
Eventually, it took my welfare officer to say to me "You have to listen to your consultant and you have to listen to your body. You have nothing to prove, people know how strong you are.”
I attended the Police Treatment Centre in Harrogate for the first time in April 2019. The place has been a lifesaver in managing the physical stress caused by the incident, and I would recommend all police officers sign up for their local treatment centre. The Federation have got us such good deals on the price and the support they can offer is priceless.
My Federation have been simply amazing, as have my Force. I was visited in hospital by Pete Blamire (Treasurer) and Keith Jervis (our previous Chair) and received help and advice from the start which, looking back, was vital to relieving my stress and supporting me in my recovery.
I have since learnt that some stress is pivotal for our job, giving us that flight or fight mode. But in order to get control over this stress, you need to ask for help to keep it at a sensible level. Too much and you don't recognise the person looking back at you in the mirror.