Police officers have a very unique role to play in society that has them interacting with people and experiences in situations that most human beings will never experience. A police officer will see more violence, trauma, death and injury in one eight hour shift than most normal members of society will see in their entire lives. This has an impact. It has an emotional impact and a mental impact on these officers that they can’t help but take into their lives.
If you are a spouse of a police officer and you see that they are becoming angry, irritable or withdrawn, these are early warning signs that they are suffering from some type of critical incident stress and potentially even PTSD. As a police officer of 13 years myself, who retired with PTSD, depression and battled suicide, I understand the journey and I now understand the warning signs. I can look back on my own life and identify where it all started coming apart.
It’s the anger and frustration of not being able to control the situations and save the people you want to save and help the people you want to help, that weighs heavily, emotionally and mentally on police officers. If your spouse is a police officer and you find they are angry, or they are irritable or they are becoming withdrawn, then it might be time for you to reach out and ask if they need your help. The stark reality is they may say no because as the alpha personalities police officers are by nature, and have to be in their duties, means they will not want help and they will not want to have to show that they need help.
Police officers see putting their hands up for help as a sign weakness and this stigma needs to change. When your police officer spouse comes home from work, angry and irritable and seems to have an adverse over reaction to the simplest of things that occur in normal life, understand they’re not reacting towards you or your children or the people around them, they’re reacting out of the frustration and the difficulty of the things that they see. Everybody has a bucket inside them that fills with the shit of life. Police officers have an inordinate amount of extra shit that they experience in their duty, which has the bucket overflow resulting in an over reaction to many very normal situations.
If your Police spouse is becoming more irritable with your children, snapping towards you or generally seems more angry at someplace life occurrences this may be because of the reaction to what they’re experiencing at work. Road rage is another classic sign of an officer who is wound very tight dealing with the stress of what they deal with day to day.
Getting help for this person is critical and time is of the essence. Perhaps giving them information like this article is a first step. Finding a subtle way to open the conversation for them is the key to helping. They are not used to getting help they are normally the ones giving the help. They are the protections not the victims and this makes it very difficult to reach out for help. For someone who spend their entire career helping others it is a difficult step to then be the one who needs the help.
I hope this article helps you understand a little bit as to why police officers react the way they do and that it’s not about you, it’s about the shit they see and experience. All you need to do is love and support them.