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When suddenly everything gets on top of you

Monday, 10 June 2013 James

James talks about his anxiety attack and recovery.

For 27 years, I have been a police officer, and now I am quite senior. I have in recent years carried out numerous high-profile jobs, I have commanded over 300 firearms deployments and been responsible for teams and departments that have staff in the hundreds.

Over the last year, work has piled up and my responsibilities have expanded and increased. The attitude has always been that I was a capable person and could rise to any challenge, for my part I never wanted to say 'no', and I never missed a deadline - a matter of pride.

Over the last 12 months though the work has increased even further, I am doing jobs that were previously shared among three or more staff members. On top of that, my wife had a cancer scare and then lost her father - a hugely traumatic experience.

One day at work I was in a meeting when my boss told me that I was going to be responsible for yet another large piece of work. Something happened - a haze descended; my head started throbbing, and I could barely speak. Somehow I made it back to my car after the meeting where I then had a severe anxiety attack. I didn't know what it was; I thought I was about to die - alone in a car park.

I saw my doctor the next day. She was amazing and kind, but most of all she believed me. She told me I was heading for a mental health crisis, and that I must take time off and get well. I am now prescribed anti-depressants, and I am receiving counselling.

My doctor was quite frank with me - she told me to get help and accept help, or I might never recover. As it is I am well on the way to a full recovery and I am grateful for that. My message is simply this; needing and receiving help is not a sign of weakness. I do not scare easily and if this can happen to me then, given the right circumstances, it can happen to anyone. I discovered that there are wonderful people out there who want to help and who can help. I see myself as a lucky one and hope that by sharing this simple story, anyone who is reluctant to get help will do so.

If a big butch policeman can cry in a doctor's surgery and ask for help then so can anyone - you won't shock them, they are prepared for it and it will help you recover.

To your good health.

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