Adam Collins PTSD Article

Tell us about yourself. You can share as much or as little as you like. (This can include your job, your family).–

I grew up in the central valley town of Visalia, California, the middle of 4 kids. I swam and played water polo in High school and was decent enough to earn a scholarship to California State University of Long Beach playing water polo. After college, I went on ride-a-long with a friend who had been working for Long Beach Police Department and there began my love
of law enforcement. I joined the first police academy I could get into, which happened to be in my hometown, Visalia Ca. In 2002 I started my law enforcement career in Atascadero, California at a small Police Department of 32 sworn. Three years later I moved to my hometown of Visalia and began working for the Police Department, a department of  approximately 155 sworn. I was married in 2005 and have two daughters.

I have been lucky enough to work a few different assignments during my career. I have been a Field Training Officer, a Gang Enforcement Officer, and Narcotics Detective. I have been on the departments SWAT team since 2007, I am part of our newly developed Peer Support Team, and I am currently assigned to a High School and Middle School as the Youth Service Officer.

June is known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) awareness month. Please feel free to share how PTSD has impacted your life

On May 16, 2013, I was assigned to the Gang Suppression Unit . I was leading a search for a suspect that had fled from us during a traffic stop when I was shot 4 times with a .357 magnum at close range. My partner was also shot once in the back. This resulted in injuries that kept me off work for 8 months.

Soon after the shooting, I began dealing with things such as nightmares and anxiety. I expected these reactions and they didn’t really last a great length of time. As time went on though, I noticed that I was having trouble regulating my emotions. I was physically limited because of my injuries and kept re-injuring myself during my physical recovery. I, of course, told everyone that I was fine, but I felt fear, anxiety, and anger at unusual times. As a man and a police officer, I began to feel as though I would never be physically strong enough to do my job again. I isolated myself and used alcohol to mask my feelings and avoid talking about things. I eventually went back to work, but was a shell of who I was before. I was pretty good at hiding who I was and put on a front to everyone I worked with for a long time.

As you can imagine this kind of behavior was not conducive to healthy interpersonal relationships or lifestyle. No one in my life seemed to know how to help me and at that point I wouldn’t know how to accept it anyway. The longer it went on the worse I became until eventually I reached my low point, 5 years later. I finally accepted help that was offered to me and my life began to change.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who is struggling with PTSD, what would it be?–

This is my opinion and my experience only, but hopefully it helps someone. Post-Traumatic Stress is nothing more than a normal reaction to an abnormal event. Physical injuries heal and so do post-traumatic stress injuries, but we have to know that it may change how we look at the world. This can be a good thing!

My advice would be this:
Be vulnerable and talk to someone. You are not weak if you ask for help. In fact, seeking out help is STRENGTH! In my experience, talking about what happened and helping someone else who has been through something similar can and will help you. Read something for growth, watch a Ted talk, meditate, pray, eat healthy and workout. The mind body connection is so important! These are things that seem to work for me. Just remember to keep moving forward. God Bless.

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