I have been in the police force for several years and my current role involves supporting victims of high risk domestic abuse. Within the role of emergency service workers we experience trauma on a daily basis. I hadn’t experienced any personal trauma until 6 years ago when my world fell apart after losing my little boy during pregnancy.
I suffered several major haemorrhages and came close to death. From that day on nothing felt the same. I was grieving so badly for my baby and dealing with constant flashbacks of the horrendous experience.
Having not experienced any significant trauma in life I was unsure how I was supposed to cope. I was sign posted for counselling, offered sleeping pills and was told to stay off work for as long as I needed. At this point all I wanted to do was block out every thought in my head. I tried to avoid the pain by making myself as busy as possible so I didn’t have to think about the thoughts in my head.
Two years later I found myself dealing with another significant experience in my life. Again, trying to make myself as busy as I could but this time it was different. Suddenly I couldn’t avoid the pain anymore and I broke. I couldn’t bear facing work or anything I'd kept myself busy with. I was signed off sick and left wondering how I was going to deal with life.
A friend of mine mentioned a new project called Surfwell. I’d always loved the outdoors so was keen to give it a go. My Surfwell day arrived, and I was overridden with anxiety. I tried to cancel as I couldn’t bare the thought of talking about how I was feeling at the time. Thankfully one of the instructors convinced me to come along and provided me with reassurance that there was no pressure to talk and just turning up was enough.
Surfwell completely changed my life. It allowed me to accept my struggles and use positive tools such as surfing to maintain a healthy lifestyle, both physically and mentally. Whether this be through exercise, healthy eating (sometimes!) or speaking to someone, whether a friend or professional about how you are feeling. I feel as emergency service workers we are often great at recognising mental health in people we come across within our roles but not so good at recognising it and seeking help for ourselves.
I got so much out of Surfwell that I felt I wanted to give back to others who may be going through what I was. I’m so proud to now be part of Surfwell and enjoy helping colleagues to lead happy and healthy lifestyles that we all strive for.
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