Authors' note: This is our third and final installment of our series on Another Cop Killer. If you have not yet read them, please refer to Parts 1 and 2 (linked below)
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The first three weeks were like living life in a fuzzy tube, rolling through it under a power he had no control over toward a distant light he could neither focus on nor trust was really even there. The walls of his tube were snapshots from the lives of everyone else around him - his wife, his daughter, the neighbors who waved with uneasy concern when he shuffled out to grab the mail each day - going about the business of living, except with the gauzy, Dali-esque quality of a fever-dream from which he was both frustratingly disconnected and unable to escape.
Thank God for seventeen years of accrued sick time!
As fuzzy as the walls of his tube were, the memories of what he lived and felt and experienced were in sharp relief. His (was it his?) snap decision to pick up the phone and dial 911. Dale shooing off the paramedics and telling them he would give Kurt a ride to the ER tonight and we won't be needing you here and Thank You Very Much Now Beat It! Dale's non-stop chatter as they rode to the hospital, alternating between work gossip and the never-before-revealed story of his own nearly fatal bout of depression six years before. Telling the assessment counselor about The Black and how he had scared himself tonight and how he DID NOT want to die - that IS why he called, after all - and how he loved being a cop and just knew he had lost that forever...
He remembered the assessment counselor telling him her cousin was a cop, and she knew how much The Job meant, and to just trust her. The psychiatrist he chose told him same thing - Just trust me - and his therapist did too. So he started to trust them a little; and the therapy; and the little chemistry experiments the Doc insisted doing on him.
As days turned to weeks, and the shrink seemed more and more satisfied his tinkering had landed on the right mix of chemicals, and the talks with the therapist became less guarded and more open; the tube became less fuzzy and surreal until finally it was no more. The Black dissipated to ever-lighter shades of gray on its way to gone when Dale, in the middle of one of his many visits, asked the question,
- So Kurt, you about done with being crazy for awhile? Cuz we are seriously thinking of fragging your fill-in, man!
- Yeah, Dale, I'm all cleared. Monday it is then...
Months had passed with no return visits from The Black and Kurt was reviewing reports at his desk mid-tour when a young patrol officer, just a few weeks on the shift, tentatively approached.
- Uh, Sarge. Hey, uhhh, is it okay if...? Can I ask you something important?
Kurt looked up, shocked at the thin, quavering voice coming from this usually confident kid. He was alarmed to look into teary, red-rimmed eyes.
- Todd? What is it?
- Um, Sarge. A couple of the other guys said I should probably talk to you. They said you could probably understand and know what to do. Sarge, things just are not going so well for me right now. I really think I need some help...
Fear is one of the primary reasons law enforcement officers fail to seek help when they find themselves in the midst of a clinical depression. Being depressed already takes a person's sense of control and autonomy. Add to it the fear of losing personal and professional face at work, the sense of self and purpose LEOs derive from work, and possibly even their very employment, and it is understandable so many are hesitant to seek help. Fear and uncertainly are byproducts of depression that serve only to deepen it.