What’s Hidden …

“It didn’t stem from one particular moment. It’s not as if I can pinpoint an exact experience that caused me to feel that way. It’s more like the 18 years altogether had taken their toll. “

38-year-old Stephen White has been a police officer for the entirety of his adulthood, dedicating his life to protecting and upholding the law. As a consequence of his career choice, Stephen has been involved in a multitude of scarring experiences, that unknowingly incurred a lifelong impact.

Almost a decade into his career, Stephen began to experience night terrors. Re-living some of his worst encounters, he would strike out whilst sleeping, causing harm to not only his surroundings but his then wife as well. For Stephen, this was his worst fear. 

“I would wake up from my sleep, to find my wife cleaning up broken shards of glass from a lamp or window I had punched by accident and I would have no recollection of doing it. It was awful.”

After enduring countless sleep studies and specialist appointments, it became clear that the night terrors were the result of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – a condition of persistent mental and emotional stress occurring as the result of injury or severe psychological shock.

As a side effect of his PTSD, the father of 4 would often lash out emotionally at his wife, creating a deep strain on their relationship. Whilst unintentional, this systematic behaviour resulted in their divorce. Stephen’s ex-wife, Michelle, explained that whilst she understood he couldn’t control his outbursts, they still caused her a great deal of pain.

“Mental illness does that, you know? It can turn the person you love into someone you can’t even recognise. He couldn’t stop it from happening, I get that, but it hurt nonetheless.” 

Upon meeting his current wife, Stephen felt the urge to take control of his PTSD, choosing to enrol in a 10-week program at a mental health facility. The program helped him to confront his struggles and offered a variety of methods to aid in recovery.

With the continual support of his family and determination to feel better, Stephen has learnt to overcome his PTSD.

“It’s been really hard but I’m here today, stronger because of it.”

Today, Stephen leads a happy life free from night terrors. 

He still continues to serve as a NSW Police Officer. 

This is Stephen’s story.

Until next time,

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