Thursday, November 10, 2016

Deputy Sheriff: 'I Felt Like a Failure' Stigma of PTSD

Deputy Sheriff: 'I Felt Like a Failure'
By Katherine Kam, Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS
November 10, 2016

Like soldiers, cops prize a show of toughness, and acknowledging PTSD is hard. “It takes a lot for cops to talk about their internal feelings because we don’t want to be judged or we’re afraid our gun will be taken away from us. We may lose our job,” DiBona says. “I held all that in, and I told very few people what was going on.”
Nov. 10, 2016 -- In 31 years of police work, Sgt. Mark DiBona has witnessed a torrent of human tragedy. But it took a child’s death a decade ago to crush his spirit.

DiBona was sitting in his police cruiser at 3 a.m. when a mother drove up and screamed that her 6-month-old son had stopped breathing. Firefighters at a nearby station were out on a call, so DiBona tried to revive him with CPR. But the baby died from sudden infant death syndrome.

“I felt worthless that I could not save the baby through my training, and I tried my hardest,” he says.

After he attended the baby’s funeral, the nightmares started.

The baby appeared in terrifying dreams: in his mailbox, at the dinner table with him and his wife, in the passenger seat of the police car.

In one nightmare, the doorbell rang and DiBona answered it, startled to find the baby lying on his doorstep. “He was lifeless,” DiBona says. “I started doing CPR again, and I woke up in a cold sweat, yelling and screaming, just feeling bad that I couldn’t save the baby.”

During the day, DiBona was tormented by intrusive thoughts, as well as guilt and shame -- negative emotions that kept intensifying. He isolated himself from other officers.
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