A police officer took on an extreme physical challenge to raise money for Police Care UK, so other officers can benefit from the support she has had.
Jenny was diagnosed with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in 2019 after experiencing a series of traumatic incidents. While she knew she was unwell and had been seeing a therapist to talk about her concerns, the diagnosis still came as a massive shock.
“I didn’t know I had this,” Jenny said. “I knew that I wasn’t very well – there was no denying that part of it – but I didn’t know what the matter was with me. I got so ill that a crisis team from the NHS got involved.”
Not knowing where to turn for help, Jenny’s husband Andy spoke to her Detective Sergeant who, along with her Federation Rep, put the wheels in motion. He was told to find Jenny the right treatment and they would make the necessary arrangements. Police Care UK agreed to provide funding towards her treatment.
“It was all a bit of a whirlwind, but I thought ‘something’s got to change’ so I took the place. It wasn’t for a good month of being in hospital that I fully acknowledged the help I was receiving. It could have been a lot different if I had gone somewhere else. I don’t know if I would have got the treatment or the understanding that I got there.”
Complex PTSD is sometimes talked of in terms of the ‘drip, drip, drip’ effect of trauma. Jenny’s psychiatrist used a similar analogy.
“He said the other way to describe it is every time you have a traumatic incident, you put it in a box, and you put it in your wardrobe, you close that wardrobe door, and you don’t deal with it,” Jenny said. “And then what happened is that my wardrobe got full and everything fell out. I just boxed everything away that I’ve ever had to face in my private and work life and didn’t deal with anything.”
Jenny spent two-and-a-half months receiving treatment and continues to receive regular trauma therapy today. Happily, she has returned to work; something she is delighted about.
She said: “I have to admit, there was one point when I was in hospital, I thought I’m never going back to work. I didn’t think I’d ever be allowed or if they would accept me back. I’m a wife, I’m a mum and there are so many positive things in my life, but my job has always been a big thing.
“I have been so, so supported with work and with my ongoing therapy as well. They’ve really been very considerate.”
Jenny’s attention is now focussed on raising money for Police Care UK. Last year, she and her husband took part in the 50-kilometre Race to the Stones ultramarathon. Jenny had exercised regularly for the last two decades but hadn’t previously run that distance before.
“I needed to challenge myself a little bit more,” Jenny said. “A lot of people know that I’m fairly fit, I run, I do classes online. I think that if I’m asking people to sponsor me, I need to do something that they can see is a challenge to me; something a little bit more extreme.
“I rely on exercise massively. People who suffer with their mental health will totally appreciate that. Exercise is probably the best medicine around. That and talking, which I’ve learned the hard way. I really, really struggled with talking. I didn’t want people to see that I couldn’t cope.
“There was many a time that I wish somebody had a magic wand and could just wave it at me and I would be fixed. And then people said to me ‘you can’t fix it because you’re not actually broken – you’ve just got a few things out of place that we need to rearrange’.
Jenny and her husband Andy raised over £4000 from sponsorship for the ultra marathon. She hopes her fundraising will enable others who are struggling to access the help that’s right them. “I wore a mask, and it took a long time from becoming ill to feel safe in removing that mask and showing my vulnerability. I’m really, really hoping that officers are not so worried about saying something has upset them or affected them or they’re not sleeping”.
Jenny says “some of the people we would like to acknowledge and thank (apart from all the other amazing sponsors); Steve Court, Garry Smith, Marcus McDevett, Sarah Glen, Piere Taub and Andrew Harpham-Salter. Without the help from all the above, including Police Care UK, my story and return to work, would have been very different”.
If Jenny’s story has made you think about your own circumstances and you would like to know more about the help available from Police Care UK, visit www.policecare.org.uk