Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Victoria's first responders
When people expect you to be superhuman it can take its toll, says a Geelong police officer, who wishes to remain anonymous.
â€œIn a way you buy into their notion and you can fix anything because you do to an extent,â€ said the officer.
â€œThe hard thing is when you believe you are strong enough to deal with anything, the emotional toll of many and varied traumatic incidents over a sustained period can bring it all undone.
â€œYou realise that youâ€™re not superhuman and suddenly it all falls apart," said the officer.
The officer suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Explaining that she felt weak, she that â€œyou feel guilty because you werenâ€™t strong enough, you feel you have let the community down, as well as your colleagues and your family".
â€œMany friends tell me they donâ€™t know how I do my job â€“ I canâ€™t any more. The memories and visions will never leave me. They are a part of me, they torment me,â€ the officer said.
Thanks to a new partnership with WorkSafe, The Geelong Clinic now offers PTSD treatment to first responders â€“ like the police officer.
â€œMy treatment at The Geelong Clinic has been fundamental in starting to rediscover a lot of what I have lost,
â€œIâ€™m not â€˜fixedâ€™ but Iâ€™m on the path towards recovery. I donâ€™t feel weak anymore and I know now that Iâ€™m not alone," explained the officer.
First responders are the first to arrive at an emergency, and deal with crashes, death, violence and other circumstances well outside of â€˜everyday lifeâ€™.
The police officer found herself suffering from sleeplessness and round-the-clock anxiety, and wanted to withdraw from friends.
â€œWhen you begin to understand how your brain works it takes some of the fear out of the PTSD symptoms,â€ the officer explained.
The 12-week PTSD program, is available to first responders, veterans and defence personnel and involves anxiety and anger management, trauma-focused cognitive behaviour therapy, drug and alcohol education, and individual and group therapy
â€œThe strength of the bond formed with this PTSD group at the Geelong Clinic is enormous, we have bared our souls to each other, shared our stories and our fears," said the officer.
The Geelong Clinic is the only Victorian regional accredited hospital to partner with WorkSafe to provide PTSD treatment.