Dave, a police lieutenant from the West Coast, emailed me in search of some information about the signs and symptoms of psychological distress. His concern, like that of many first responders, is that he is slowly running out of ways to cover up the emotional upheaval he has been experiencing lately.

Enter John Sutherland, formerly of the London Metro Police Department and Scotland Yard. John has lived the glorious life of a law enforcement officer, leading men and women in uniform happily. His love of the policing profession is as obvious as the pain he felt when he lost his ability to practice it.

After twenty-five years on the job, John was struck down with depression and anxiety – unable to physically function at all. With the help of his physician and the support of his colleagues, family, and friends, John is conquering his mental and physical demons one day at a time.

Depression is the leading precursor to suicide. This is not something a person can “snap” out of. As John put it, “Sadness is to depression as a puddle is to the Pacific Ocean.” The struggle back from the brink wouldn’t have been possible without the love of his wife and children. Together, they loved him back to life.

Today, John is learning how to master a new normal. For instance, taking Citalopram has become a daily part of his life. His bravery in speaking up about anti-depressant medication as a biological necessity goes a long way to tearing down the stigma that so many police officers fear when it comes to mental wellness.

If you or someone you love is struggling with anxiety or depression, please contact your physician immediately. If you’re a first responder and you’re looking for access to therapeutic resources from the comfort and privacy of home, you now have access to the HEROES Project online. For information about registering for our next open session, visit https://the-heroes-project.teachable.com/.

The Command Post

Where First Responders work together to improve the lived experiences of their fellow First Responders.