26 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 emotional and mental stress that were left behind by the incident, and the support she received to manage this.
The second year of my recovery was all about my mental well-being and attitude. Pretty early on, anxiety became a common place in my day to day. I began to avoid people and couldn't understand where this anxiety came from. I was constantly questioning myself and my emotions, asking ‘why do I feel like this?’ Everything was an uphill battle. I felt guilty about thinking about myself, but looking back now, it wasn't all about me, it was about my family too.
The emotional and mental stresses that were left behind from the incident were as prominent and as hard to deal with as the physical. The euphoria I had got from improving physically turned at times to despair. I did not sleep well and this affected my emotional wellbeing. I became really irritable and I'd say I was not nice to be around. It was at this point that I realised I needed help. I was avoiding talking about it, everything around me felt grey, I was very anxious and became increasingly angry. I didn't like this person, so I stuck my hand up and asked for help.
My Federation colleagues always helped me keep busy by inviting me to the Council meetings and I became a trustee, so at least I could still be involved at work. The Federation also helped me gain information on contacting the DWP to claim both PIP and Industrial Injury Benefits, which helped financially. I attended the Police Treatment Centre for a wellbeing course, which I didn't realise I needed until I sat and listened to how others felt. They also put me in contact with Police Care who helped me with a grant to alter my bathroom from a bath to a shower to assist in future proofing my house.
All this has kept me busy and helped my self esteem, especially after being given the diagnosis that I will not be able to return to front line policing, but will no doubt be office based for the remainder of my career.
During my recovery period, I was given a great piece of advice: “A fight is as much to do with your mental state as it is the physical condition you are in. There are two things you can do in that kind of situation, you can take a good punch and fall over and look for an exit, or you can dig so deep until the well is empty and then get a shovel and keep digging in the dry dirt until there is nothing more to dig and nothing matters more than winning.”
It took me a while, but I dug deep. And I won. Without the support that I received from my family, my friends and my Federation and all that they can offer, I wouldn’t have made it to where I am now.
There is no shame in asking for help to deal with stress. My advice is to reach out as soon as you can, don’t wait until it’s too late. There are so many avenues offering support and so many people who can guide you through. If you are experiencing any form of stress, please speak to your local Federation. We are all in this together.