Mental State of Mind is Everything

I know that it has been a while since I was out on the streets chasing crooks, but I still get in uniform from time to time, and not just for the discount at Lubys. But when you put that uniform on there are things you think about that will never leave you.  Be it the good time you had with other officers like I did in the Gang Unit at Southeast, or the bad times at the funerals of friends lost.  All of these things play into who we are as individuals.

There are other things that play into who we are, like the responses we have to certain events. We have all been somewhere and noticed that something just isn’t right.  Our senses heighten, we pay attention to everyone around us, and making sure we have a plan if something does go down. This is who we are, the vigilant who see things before anyone else notices something is wrong.  But with this innate ability to know when something is not right, we have a higher level of stress, both on and off duty.

There have been several times when I have been out with family and suddenly feel anxious. I am sure that I am not alone in the fear of being out with family when something goes wrong, and we find ourselves needing to act. But thanks to my years at Southeast, and my training with the Tac and Gang units, I feel very confident in my ability to handle most situations.  It is not that I am some super cop, or some kind of bad dude, but because I am mentally prepared.  Police work is truly a mindset.  One that allows you to push aside fear in time of complete chaos and handle the situation.

Sadly, there are also times when this mindset works against us.  This is especially true in our personal relationships. This mindset can cause us to keep others at a distance, especially after a traumatic event.  None of us want to be the person who “breaks down”. I will be the first to tell you, I have broken down after a bad scene. I never told anyone, I just sucked it up and moved on.  Not saying that it is right or wrong, but just how I handled it. The job is emotionally and physically draining from time to time, and we need to find ways to release the tensions that we often feel.  So many times, we look to self-medicate through one of the vices like alcohol, gambling, pornography, but there are better ways.

We need to find activities outside of work that will help mitigate the anxiety that we can feel from the job. One of the best ways to relieve stress and anxiety is to take up a hobby, play golf, fish, find a good church, go to psychological services, find a therapist, whatever fits you best. We are always expected to take care of others, but you must also take care of yourself.  Remember, you not only have the community counting on you but more importantly, your family.  The mindset is everything!

Author Doug Griffith

Published October 9, 2023