So, this is where I am at and have been for the past couple of weeks. I am overcome by guilt and its equally evil twin shame. Both are completely irrational to the situation but are ever-present. And, to top it off, are being exasperated by the Christmas season.
I know I said a lot in the first paragraph so let me break it down in a bit more detail. Due to the nature of the incident that is at the root of the PTSD I’m dealing with, I have an unhealthy amount of guilt about it. To be direct, I feel guilty for doing my job and not doing anything in the situation as it was outside of my role and there was nothing that could be done anyway. Or, at least that’s how it looked. In fact I have spent the better part of the last seven months dealing with the moral injuries that have arisen because of this guilt and the lack of action that resulted from my role as a police officer vs the hospital staff.
This guilt, tied into the moral injury, is a very different type of guilt that you might normally experience. This has cut deep into my moral fiber and has left me questioning everything that I thought was right and everything that happened during the incident. It has casted doubt on everything and robbed me of my confidence. It is just as bad, if not worse, than the depression that seeps in partly due to the level of shame that it produces. The cyclical nature of it is huge and very dangerous and goes something like this:
- a thought will invade my mind about the incident,
- I begin to delve on the thought and question what I did or didn’t do int he situation,
- The feeling of guilt begins to rise,
- Almost at the same time, I get hit with the shame stemming from my actions / inactions in the situation.
- Downward spiral begins and Depression pops its head in to say “Hello, what do we have here? Someone struggling? Well, let’s rock.”
- I recognize what is starting to happen and try to ground myself in the present before it gets too late.
Yep, that pretty much sums it up.
All of this always brings me back to this question “How do I forgive myself for doing my job?”
That there is the million dollar question.
Guilt, it can really mess a person up.