GARYY Smith's Story "PTSD"

As Posted On Facebook Group and Page

"BEHIND THE SEEN" Un cannabis related

But a unbiased read to give an understanding in to PTSD

Here's a great read from our friend Garry Smith

Senior Sergeant Northern Territory Police, about the highs and lows of being on the frontline.

Thanks to Peter Lewis for the use of his artwork. Peter has always been a fantastic supporter of BEHIND THE SEEN from the get go. 🙂

Love ya work Peter. 🙂

My story, my life with PTSD.

For your background information I have some 27 years Service with the Northern Territory Police. I have served in a variety of locations and positions such as: -

Darwin General Duties, Nhulunbuy GD’s, Alice Springs GD’s, Darwin City CIB, Alice Springs CIB and Drug Intelligence Unit. I have been the Officer in Charge of Alice Springs Drug Intelligence Unit, Tennant Creek CIB, Hermannsburg Police station and Tennant Creek Police station. I am currently one of the duty Watch Commanders however I am currently on medical leave as I am being treated for PTSD.

I have had an interesting career with many highlights. I became quite well known for my N.T. Police Facebook posts around Australia and in fact the world.

I am known amongst fellow Emergency Services members as a friendly figure that supports his peers to the best of his ability.

Unfortunately I have attended some of the most horrific incidents commonly faced by Police. Anything that was going to go bad seemed to happen when I was on shift! I knew these incidents were having an effect on me but I did not understand what it was doing to me initially.

Out of the thousands of critical incidents I have attended, my treatment team seemed to have narrowed down three or so particular events that have had a profound affect upon me. I will not go into detail however I am more than willing to discuss my involvements in open discussions.

For years I was one of those persons who continually put on the brave face after critical incidents and most of the time I was in fact the senior member on scene who offered Peer Support to them. I rarely had any support or if it was offered I brushed it aside because I am that big tough Garry Smith. I was too “Tough” too “Proud” too “Ashamed” to accept or seek help.

I self medicated. I turned to alcohol as my Peer Support and again will not go into details here but happily in an open forum, allowed it to take control of my life.

Some of the things I now know were the signs of slipping into the dark areas of PTSD. These include: -

Using alcohol and food to feel better or to simply not feel ultimately putting on excessive weight

Became cynical, critical, irritable and impatient

Turned my back on family and friends which damaged relationships with good friends and even worse, my son Sam

Nightmares and interrupted sleep ~ e.g.

Lack of energy

Couldn’t be bothered with things I usually enjoyed and many other things

Gambled (and drank) to a stage of financial difficulty

Isolating or roomanising myself

Hygiene suffered

Erratic thoughts and decision-making

Would not answer the phone

Didn’t want to be seen in public

Nearly chucked it all in and walked off

When I reached absolute rock bottom I self-harmed and ended up in custody of my peers.

I am lucky enough that the Northern Territory Police took it upon themselves to help me get back on my feet. Firstly through or Employee Support Services and now in the hands of an outsourced treatment team.

I made it known to family, friends and basically all and sundry that I was a sufferer of PTSD. It shocked many however it also had a reaction I was quite surprised by. I have been approached and assisted quite a few people who were having trouble dealing with their own demons. Not qualified in anyway I could not tell them what was wrong but offered my guidance so they could start on their own journey of help. It made me feel good knowing my problems could assist others.

My PTSD gives me a great understanding of what all Police members can and will go through. For the remaining nine or so years of my career I want to dedicate as much time as I can to help others that may go through what I have been through.

Today I am a much better person. I accepted the diagnosis and I am doing everything I can to get me back up and running. I am in a better place now than I have ever been. I see a future. I see myself becoming a useful and dedicated member of the N.T. Police again. More importantly I see myself as becoming a useful member of society. I am working to get the old Garry Smith back and I intend on succeeding in that endeavor.

Please feel free to ask any questions.

Good Luck all.

Garry Smith.

#police #ptsd #mentalhealth #emergencyservices #stress #mentalhealthawareness #firstresponder #firefighter #paramedic #triple000

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