Editors Note: We are honored to introduce you to Scott Medlin. Scott has recently published a book about how to mentally survive working as a police officer. His goal is to help save lives and frankly, we think he has done it. Below is an excerpt from his excellent book.
While I am not a licensed psychiatrist, doctor, or clinical expert, I have spent twelve short years in law enforcement. During that time, I just about covered the spectrum when it comes to challenging and frequently plain’ ole unpleasant experiences.
As a result of this career and two deployments to Iraq, I have suffered from a number of mental health issues throughout various points in my life, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, addictions, mood swings, and becoming physically ill due to stress.
You might be thinking, “Wow, this guy does not know how to get help himself, let alone guide others.” Well, the thing is, I did get the help, and I will continue to work on my mindset and wellness. The fact that I am still affected to a degree by these issues brings me to two critical points that I hope you will carry with you throughout this book and beyond.
First and foremost, the most crucial distinction separating mental illness from physical illness involves healing time. A sprained ankle will go away after a few weeks of physical therapy. In contrast, you will need to continue practicing self-care and mindfulness to maintain your mental health, after overcoming the worst of a mental illness.
I hope that my experiences and the insights provided in this book from clinical experts will help you realize that you have a support system. Like you, I have experienced mental illness and stressful experienced due to policing. I hope this book provides you with insight that other learning experiences cannot.
Make sense? As convenient as it may seem, we cannot conceptualize mental illness as rationally as other, more mechanical issues. It is not a matter of “identify the problem, get the tools you need, solve it, and never worry about it again.” It is an ongoing process.
This process cannot begin, of course, if you do not first acknowledge the problem. It may very well be true that you are not as profoundly affected as some of your peers. Still, if you are in law enforcement or a similarly stressful field, you are definitely at risk of a mental battle.
We know this, not only because of the statistic mentioned earlier but because of the many other (non-suicidal) manifestations of stress that law enforcement professionals and their loved ones’ experience.
Few would argue that this problem does indeed exist. However, the real struggle is getting people to come together to address the mental fight in law enforcement as it is an uncomfortable topic. Neither the affected nor those around them want to talk about it. This crumbling standard, however, is unacceptable. It is the impetus for this book.
Through a comprehensive review of the data, the physiology of stress and depression, and the leading strategies used to lower suicide and self-harm risk, this book will attack this problem from a multitude of angles.