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History of Depression & Becoming a Police Officer

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Posted over 2 years ago

 

I’m a twenty-three year old graduate student, who is interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement. 


I have an impeccably clean and boring record. I’ve never been arrested, never had a speeding ticket—I’ve never taken drugs, and I never drank underage! I was one of the top students in the graduating class of my university and have good references for my character. I consider myself to be an okay, but not perfect, person, which a solid moral foundation. 


But I’m concerned. I have had a (brief) history of depression. It happened last year. We aren’t sure what triggered it, but my guess it might have been a combination of genetics, stress, and the fact I was involved in a research project that called for traveling the world and visiting various places of historical genocide, which, after a few weeks, really gets to you. I was medicated and it went away. (For the record, I still take the medication; I’m just not sure I want to come off of it until I’m settled into my new place.) I wouldn’t consider this an issue at all, but the problem gets a little bit messier. While studying at college last year, a (well-intended, but extremely busy-body friend) filed a report that I was planning to commit suicide. This just wasn’t true. She had no evidence to support this, (other than I’d told her a few days earlier that I was depressed), but assumed that because I stayed in my room for two days, this was my motivation. (My father was very ill and close to death in the hospital—I think that’s a normal human reaction, you know, to want space, but she and the college didn’t, I guess.) My college grossly overreacted to this and started placing all these ‘you must do in order to graduate’ things into effect—including mandatory counseling and having to report what was discussed during these session to them, which I’m pretty sure was illegal. So, in the end, I filed a report with the OCR, won, and everyone in that department was fired. 


So while I don’t consider myself a ‘mentally ill’ person, I am concerned that there’s going to be quite a bit of history (somewhere) as to my alleged suicidal tendencies and depression. (For the record, I’ve never attempted suicide, or been institutionalized, ever.) It’s also something I’d need to be forthright about, obviously, if I ever tried to enter a police academy, and even when I explain the situation, I have a feeling it still might disqualify me, because there are so many people wanting to become officers, and so little space. They can afford to take the people without dramatic backstories. 


Is my chance of entering a police academy ruined? I am trying to get my foot in the door by volunteering at my local station (something that it looks like will happen), and want to do this regardless, but worry that after volunteering I’ll want to be an officer so much that it will be incredibly difficult for me to accept I’d be automatically disqualified. 


 


 

Eagle_and_flag_max50

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Rated +1 | Posted over 2 years ago

 

Everyone at some point in their lives deals with depression. Maybe not to the point of needing medication. But, there have also been officers that have been medicated for depression.


The mind is a tricky thing. Different things affect people differently. While your mind may have been affected by the genocide research, you might be able to handle something else that would leave others depressed.


I think a concern I would have is - How will this have an effect on your handling of deceased persons calls, or incidents involving the very young or very old; or graphically appalling crashes, gruesome murder scenes?


If you're trying to get your foot in the door with a local agency, run it past some of those folks. A face to face discussion might help you figure things out.


Best of luck to you.


In GOD We Trust (All others get searched, then checked through NCIC)

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If you have considered suicide this will probably be the kiss of death. I can't think of any agencies willing to take the risk of hiring you. I appreciate your honesty in your forum. I suggest you consider another profession.

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Rate This | Posted over 2 years ago

 

Wait, no. I've never considered suicide! My point is that this girl just assumed I was suicidal/about to kill myself because I'd told her I was depressed and stayed to myself for two days after I learned my dad was in the hospital. 


My concern is, however, that even after having explained the story very clearly (as I just did), people are going to somehow hear the opposite of what I've been explaining (as you just did.)  

Texas02n_max600_max50

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Rate This | Posted over 2 years ago

 

I am NOT a mental health professional! From what I understand of depression, it is treatable with therapy, medication and a combination of the two. Be honest with the department you're applying with and also contact the State agency the regulates law enforcement  to see what the policies are that govern both the department and the State.  


"Niether fire nor wind, birth nor death can erase our good deeds." Buddha

Th_policeavatar_2__max50

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Rate This | Posted over 2 years ago

 

I dealt with a nephew for years who was bi-polar. He eventually killed himself  at 35. So take what I  am about to  write with the compassion that was intended. Because  a report was made by the "girlfriend" I just don't see it happening.I agree with UncleDennis.


""Life is a storm.. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes"
Alexander Dumas-The Count of Monte Christo

Tribal_cat_tattoo__2__max50

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Rate This | Posted over 2 years ago

 

I have dealt with friends and family who have had depression in their lives at some point.  Some took meds, some did not.  People can become depressed for various reasons, one of those reasons can be a world of issues coming down on that person all at once, very difficult issues I might add.  Sometimes, the mind can only handle so much, where physically and mentally, depression manifests itself. We all handle things differently.  What makes me depressed, may not make others depressed, kind of like what 36TR was saying.. so BUMP to that.


Just because someone was concerned that you were suicidal, doesn't mean you were.. as you stated.  Sometimes people over react because they are concerned; I know this from experience.  So, do as 36TR tells you, and seek the advice of the Officers and others who work for an Agency.  I'm sure they can provide you with the greatest insight into your situation.  


 


 


"Government's first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives." - Ronald Reagan

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Rate This | Posted over 2 years ago

 

Oh boy,do I bump my friend Dennis a million per cent.You have freely admitted that one of the numerous possibilities of your depression was bought on by touring the world and checking out the scenes of genocide.You cannot begin to fathom what transpires in your own country.I was an officer for some twenty five years in a town of over half a million souls.I voluntarily worked the two roughest districts in said city in a one man car.Frequently I responded to calls of suicides,homicides,shootings,cuttings,stabbingsrapes,burglaries,feloneous assaults,many of these calls"in progress".THese calls ALWAYS came on a weekly basis and more often on a nightly and/or hourly basis.I'm also wagering you have never heard the last screams of a person trapped in a car which is totally engulfed in fire or been advised that your seventeen year old son was just killed in a traffic fatality in a neighboring city,as I was.If you're squeemish about blood,guts,gore etc.I would urge you to NOT even attempt this vocation.There are so many other careers,the vast majority pay more and are much less dangerous and taxing.

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Rate This | Posted over 2 years ago

 

Catwoman911 says ...



I have dealt with friends and family who have had depression in their lives at some point.  Some took meds, some did not.  People can become depressed for various reasons, one of those reasons can be a world of issues coming down on that person all at once, very difficult issues I might add.  Sometimes, the mind can only handle so much, where physically and mentally, depression manifests itself. We all handle things differently.  What makes me depressed, may not make others depressed, kind of like what 36TR was saying.. so BUMP to that.


Just because someone was concerned that you were suicidal, doesn't mean you were.. as you stated.  Sometimes people over react because they are concerned; I know this from experience.  So, do as 36TR tells you, and seek the advice of the Officers and others who work for an Agency.  I'm sure they can provide you with the greatest insight into your situation.  


 


BUMP Cat and 36TR 


Caduceus_max50

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Rate This | Posted over 2 years ago

 

Speaking from experience, there are, basically, two types of depression, Situational and Clinical.  Situational is just that, while Clinical is either inherited (e.g., Bipolar Disorder), or being in a situation for a long period of time. I am writing this as a view on the situation. I am not a LEO, so there is no way that  I would have the ablity to be one. This is just one Corpsman's overview on depression.


Doc


Quis custodiet ipsos custodes.
Troll Hunter, "Doc", LEO Supporter.
It's not the falling down, it's the staying down.

Me_grappling_pic_max50

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Rate This | Posted over 2 years ago

 

 Like some others have said, I'd recommend talking to the agency. They might be able to point you somewhere that can help the depression. Depression isn't something to mess with and if you have any doubts about you being able to perform the job because of it then you might want to look into someone or something that could help the depression or another profession entirely.

1asteriskshield_ezr_max50

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Rate This | Posted over 2 years ago

 

"We aren’t sure what triggered it, but my guess it might have been a combination of genetics, stress, and the fact I was involved in a research project that called for traveling the world and visiting various places of historical genocide, which, after a few weeks, really gets to you." 


I am not one to sugar coat things so I wont. In this profession you will see things which will test your mettle on a daily basis. Not knowing triggers for this, that and the other is not an excuse. Putting a loaded firearm and the discretion to use it on top of the powers to arrest and take away a person's liberty into the hands of a person who has been diagnosed as clinically depressed is a recipe for disaster. Not knowing about what other agencies would do I can tell you it would be a "NO" from ours. You can try to hide the condition but it would be found out and you would be disqualified. There are many things that many people aspire to be, I aspire to be a millionaire for example, but not all of us are qualified to become what we want to be.


You can't cure stupid.

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Rate This | Posted over 2 years ago

 

Bump headbrer!!


Also, I feel I need to reiterate what I stated before... what makes some people depressed, may not make others depressed.. for example.. I get very sad, depressed, whatever.. when one of my animals die.. or any other person's pet that I know.  I could never be a Vet.  But people?  I don't have that same type of sadness.  So, I could be a Doctor for people, because I don't get so attached.  This is a very simple example.  I believe the OP is stated that they had so much going on at one time in their life, it put them into a depressed state.  It doesn't mean this person is not mentally healthy.  This is my take on the post.  


 


"Government's first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives." - Ronald Reagan

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Rate This | Posted over 2 years ago

 

 And it's best to disclose this type of depression to the agency as opposed to hiding it. Hiding it could cause some serious problems and possibly cost someone a life if worst came to worst.

1979_max50

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Rated +1 | Posted over 2 years ago

 

It sounds like you may have just become overwhelmed by the situations that you experienced at a young age. This is not uncommon. All you need to do is look at our young military to see how it affects you. Now there ARE times in a career as a LEO where you will see and hear some horrible things. Those that bothered me most were children and young females, I guess because they could create life. Some of these memories I have crammed back into some deep recesses and whenever they creep out they are vivid and disturbing, but they are also unfortunately factual. Like seeing a 3 yr old skull exploded and flattened by the rear wheels of a semi truck, the bodies of five young kids burnt into a massive crispy ball with the heads noticeable because they had popped open in the heat, the screams of parents who you just told that their child was killed etc. It can be tough. It can also be soul-lifting as well. Know that you are saving lives and doing good work kept me sane. (I think <G>) If it is a concern and there is any sign of mental illness in your family then I do not recommend this job for you. Suicide in the ranks of LE are pretty high because of depression. I am under treatment myself for depression that was related to my early retirement because of the injuries I suffered and no longer being able to perform as a LEO. Being a LEO is the best profession in the world and I am very proud to have been part of it. Just remember that it is also the profession that can also rip out your heart and stomp on it.

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Rate This | Posted over 2 years ago

 

Robo, my friend.  I've been on this site a few years and this is the first time I have seen a cop with the inclination and good grace to take the time to  describe in detail memories crammed back into deep recesses that creep out in full fledge to eat the brain.  Thank you for shining your flashlight in that direction.


Yes, I have heard first hand accounts. I have seen retired SWAT run tears to the inside describing picking up  far-flung body parts in the aftermath of a plane bombing including the macerated corpse of an infant forced through a grating of some kind.  Then there's your rat-infested, garden-variety bloaters of all ages that must be processed at a crime scene.  I remember a certain homicide detective who drank too much.


Yet every cop will tell you none of this even comes close to touching the ongoing psychological bludgeoning called due process.  It's a killer, if you let it.  And they don't let it.


Dark humor?  You betcha.  Faith in God?  Gotta be.  Family stability?  It's what stands between a man or woman's soul and the gaping maw.  Because storming off on the way out the front door is an edge-killer that can rob the split seconds an LEO needs to save his own life.  Unaddressed depression is a killer. Check out the LODD stats for automobile deaths.  That tells it all.


LEOs here hit the nail on the head about the hazard of depression - especially suicidal depression.  That particular hazard is why it torques me when the Average Joe makes blanket statements about LEOs.  Like the Average Joe's cornered the market on mind-crushing depression.  Nah.  Cops just gotta cope.  A LOT.


It's what we ask cops to do.  So we don't have to.


Maybe I have no business throwing in my two cents, but in my gut I feel law enforcement is not for you, bluedawn.  Please don't get angry if LEOs here tell it like it is.  Instead - hearken well.  Maybe you are cut out for something related to it - something where you can make as big a difference as any cop.  It is waiting out there. 


Good Luck!


This thread has really depressed me, BTW.


 


Robocop33 says ...



It sounds like you may have just become overwhelmed by the situations that you experienced at a young age. This is not uncommon. All you need to do is look at our young military to see how it affects you. Now there ARE times in a career as a LEO where you will see and hear some horrible things. Those that bothered me most were children and young females, I guess because they could create life. Some of these memories I have crammed back into some deep recesses and whenever they creep out they are vivid and disturbing, but they are also unfortunately factual. Like seeing a 3 yr old skull exploded and flattened by the rear wheels of a semi truck, the bodies of five young kids burnt into a massive crispy ball with the heads noticeable because they had popped open in the heat, the screams of parents who you just told that their child was killed etc. It can be tough. It can also be soul-lifting as well. Know that you are saving lives and doing good work kept me sane. (I think <G>) If it is a concern and there is any sign of mental illness in your family then I do not recommend this job for you. Suicide in the ranks of LE are pretty high because of depression. I am under treatment myself for depression that was related to my early retirement because of the injuries I suffered and no longer being able to perform as a LEO. Being a LEO is the best profession in the world and I am very proud to have been part of it. Just remember that it is also the profession that can also rip out your heart and stomp on it.


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Rate This | Posted over 2 years ago

 

MarlyB, I have had the unfortunate duty to have responded to two Officers who had 'eaten their gun'. One was State and one was a just retired FBI Supervisory Agent. Very high up. No indication on either of them with the exception that they just didn't seem to have the same fire in their eyes about right and wrong anymore. Like they just didn't much care. What these two had experienced or what demons they were fighting we will never really know but the breakdown was complete and they both shot themselves in the head while they were alone in the house. Very sad as both had great careers and were highly respected.


     You talk about "dark humor" and it is true. Truthfully it is a bit on the sick side but you also see that type of 'humor' common in Emergency Rooms and other places where people often see violent death. It is a way of coping with those things that man was not meant to cope with on a regular basis. We LEOs do just that and in some departments you are busy enough to witness quite a bit. I started to say I could not count the number of people who have literally died in my arms or in front of me but that would not be true. I just don't want to. I can if I want recall each and every one of them in vivid detail. I know it has been less than a couple of dozen including a couple of very good close and personal friends. Not all LEOs go through this many, God I hope not but at the same time I feel that there are some Officers who have had it happen even more often. It is simply something that you have to deal with and like I said, you don't forget it, you just cram it into the dark recesses of your memories sometime for later personal remembrances. You also get to do some fantastic things that are so great that it makes all the nasty cruel stuff go away and lifts your soul again. No matter what, being a LEO is the best and most rewarding job in the entire world and I feel Blessed that I have been part of it.

Cruise_2014_max50

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Rate This | Posted over 2 years ago

 

 My department hired a man who not only suffered from depression but was sent to a mental hospital upon returning from Vietnam for treatment prior to becoming a LEO. Not only was he a good officer, he was one of the best cops I've ever worked with. He had that knack for finding stuff anf getting into situations. He ended his career as a sergeant and one of the most respected members of the PD.


I would recommend speaking to the agency you are looking to join. 


PL MENTORING TEAM MEMBER

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Robocop33 says ...



It sounds like you may have just become overwhelmed by the situations that you experienced at a young age. This is not uncommon. All you need to do is look at our young military to see how it affects you. Now there ARE times in a career as a LEO where you will see and hear some horrible things. Those that bothered me most were children and young females, I guess because they could create life. Some of these memories I have crammed back into some deep recesses and whenever they creep out they are vivid and disturbing, but they are also unfortunately factual. Like seeing a 3 yr old skull exploded and flattened by the rear wheels of a semi truck, the bodies of five young kids burnt into a massive crispy ball with the heads noticeable because they had popped open in the heat, the screams of parents who you just told that their child was killed etc. It can be tough. It can also be soul-lifting as well. Know that you are saving lives and doing good work kept me sane. (I think <G>) If it is a concern and there is any sign of mental illness in your family then I do not recommend this job for you. Suicide in the ranks of LE are pretty high because of depression. I am under treatment myself for depression that was related to my early retirement because of the injuries I suffered and no longer being able to perform as a LEO. Being a LEO is the best profession in the world and I am very proud to have been part of it. Just remember that it is also the profession that can also rip out your heart and stomp on it.


 



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typesetter62, Congratulatons!


You have just been awarded a -



 


typesetter62 says ...



Robocop33 says ...



It sounds like you may have just become overwhelmed by the situations that you experienced at a young age. This is not uncommon. All you need to do is look at our young military to see how it affects you. Now there ARE times in a career as a LEO where you will see and hear some horrible things. Those that bothered me most were children and young females, I guess because they could create life. Some of these memories I have crammed back into some deep recesses and whenever they creep out they are vivid and disturbing, but they are also unfortunately factual. Like seeing a 3 yr old skull exploded and flattened by the rear wheels of a semi truck, the bodies of five young kids burnt into a massive crispy ball with the heads noticeable because they had popped open in the heat, the screams of parents who you just told that their child was killed etc. It can be tough. It can also be soul-lifting as well. Know that you are saving lives and doing good work kept me sane. (I think <G>) If it is a concern and there is any sign of mental illness in your family then I do not recommend this job for you. Suicide in the ranks of LE are pretty high because of depression. I am under treatment myself for depression that was related to my early retirement because of the injuries I suffered and no longer being able to perform as a LEO. Being a LEO is the best profession in the world and I am very proud to have been part of it. Just remember that it is also the profession that can also rip out your heart and stomp on it.


 



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Rate This | Posted about 2 years ago

 

ssu459 says ...



Oh boy,do I bump my friend Dennis a million per cent.You have freely admitted that one of the numerous possibilities of your depression was bought on by touring the world and checking out the scenes of genocide.You cannot begin to fathom what transpires in your own country.I was an officer for some twenty five years in a town of over half a million souls.I voluntarily worked the two roughest districts in said city in a one man car.Frequently I responded to calls of suicides,homicides,shootings,cuttings,stabbingsrapes,burglaries,feloneous assaults,many of these calls"in progress".THese calls ALWAYS came on a weekly basis and more often on a nightly and/or hourly basis.I'm also wagering you have never heard the last screams of a person trapped in a car which is totally engulfed in fire or been advised that your seventeen year old son was just killed in a traffic fatality in a neighboring city,as I was.If you're squeemish about blood,guts,gore etc.I would urge you to NOT even attempt this vocation.There are so many other careers,the vast majority pay more and are much less dangerous and taxing.


 


Wow,  I have been for a long thinking about getting into LEO, but this posts does sum it up for me quite a bit.   I have been actively talking with any LEO's that would take a few minutes with me for more than a year.  


I was about about to enroll in a self sponsor academy available because. I didn't meet the minimum requirements of the largest LEO dept in HOUSTON.


 


alot of the LEO's I have talk to in the past 


I'm 


2012-09-24_22-41-56_408_max50

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Rate This | Posted about 2 years ago

 

 This is a page filled with sure and sound advice. I would add only this, and it's pretty much been said alrady too.


Do you know where you want to work? Do you have a Department in mind? If so, do a few ride alongs, and talk to the Officers you are assigned to. Be open with them. Talk with them. Go to the recruiter and talk with him as well. Talk to everyone. Get a feeling for the department, and more importantly, their feeling of you. This may not automaticly be a career path killer. As, many have said before, this is based on you having NOT attempted suicide. If you have, it is often something that never really goes away. The thought remains in the back of your mind forever and someday, may rear it'sugly head. Your Department would greatly prefer that this moment not come while you are in their employ. Too many LEOs take their own lives already, and they made it past the screening. 


You will face an uphill battle. If you really want this then your desire should greatly outperform your obstacles. If the obstacles prove to be too much to overcome, then either you don't want it enough to overcome them, or it is simply not possible. Only you can decide where that line is. No one can tell you not to pursue a career in Law Enforcement. On that same note, you cannot force anyone to hire you either.


If you cannot wear a badge, this does not mean you cannot support your community in another aspect of Law Enforcement. There and hundreds of other associated professions that allow you to uphold the law and put bad guys away. Sure you may be in a crime scene suit, or scientist's coat, or behind a camera, but you are part of the team, and your work is important.


Police Work is not for everyone. it's not even for a good portion of people who apply, get hired, and work it for a few years. Once folks figure out that it is much more "work" than just driving around giving out speeding tickets and tackling bad guys. 


In a world where there are Sheep and Wolves,
I am the Sheepdog.
Ranger Up!

I am NOT a hero
but I know a few