My Story to Everest…
In only a few months time, I will be saying goodbye to loved ones and friends and heading out the door to Tibet to try and climb the highest mountain in the world.
I’ve been a Police Officer for over 15 years and in that time, I’ve been very busy chasing criminals, protecting local communities and helping people in their times of need.
I’m pretty sure there isn’t much I haven’t seen and these life experiences have made me the person I am, but it all had an impact on me.
A lot of it has been emotional and some of it has been horrific, but just like everyone else in the Emergency Services, you deal with it and move on to the next job.
When you get home, you have to try your hardest to switch off and carry on with a ‘normal life’ as best you can…
It’s a challenging and demanding job, but I enjoyed it so much that I remained on the frontline of policing for the vast majority of my career and then became an Armed Response Officer.
I used to say “I’d do this job for free”, but something changed!
Perhaps it was the politics and the subsequent cut backs which decimated the public sector? Perhaps I was on the verge of burnout? Perhaps it was a combination of many different impact factors all at play, but whatever was going on, the stress I felt within the organisation was beginning to bite.
I felt like I was drowning. The me that I knew and whom I had relied upon was changing, but I didn’t recognise it. I began to resent the job and my sparkle and passion faded.
I was no longer interested in anything anymore, yet there I was still turning up for work and being asked to deal with anything and everything I was sent to.
Those long shifts were becoming longer and longer. I was never home on time and it began to have a huge knock on effect in my personal life. Always tired. Like a Zombie, I was trying to recover and become human again in my few days off, before returning to do it all over again. A vicious cycle!
Kitting up the car one day ready to go out on patrol, I suddenly stopped what I was doing and thought, “I can’t do this anymore, I need to get out of here”.
And guess what? I wasn’t the only one feeling this way…
A friend and colleague of mine had committed suicide. It was a huge shock to me. Then another disclosed that they had seriously thought about ending their own life, and I thought “Just what the hell is happening here!?”
I was feeling pretty helpless and I needed something to focus on, when a colleague happened to shove a leaflet under my nose for a charity climb of Mount Kilimanjaro for the Air Ambulance. He said “Do you fancy it?”
I signed up immediately and that’s where I discovered something amazing.
Being away in the mountains seemed to help me and I’ve been doing it ever since in one form or another.
I can speak from some personal experience of the effects of PTSD and depression over the years and I was involved in a freak accident on my way to work one morning which really set me back quite a bit, but I managed to pick myself up, and once again I turned to the mountains.
Immersing myself in yet another challenge on a big mountain, I found that my worries fell by the wayside and I could think more clearly about what was more important in my life.
It was like hitting Ctrl Alt Del.
I fully recommend you try it and I hope to be able to offer you this opportunity one day soon…
So, mountains and adventures have now become a huge part of my life and I’ve found that my sparkle and passion has returned, although now I’m walking a different path.
A path that’s away from the disillusionment and stress I was experiencing.
I had no idea where it was going to lead me…
The opportunity to climb Everest has come to me quite by chance.
I wasn’t prepared for such an invitation but, I’ve made the decision to grab hold of this once in a lifetime opportunity and make it count for something that is very close to my heart and speak up about some of the issues around Mental Health in the Emergency Services and try to reduce some of the stigma surrounding it all in the hope that it might help someone else.
I’ve learned that our Emergency Services workers are at a much greater risk of experiencing a mental health problem than the rest of the population, but they are far less likely to seek the support they need.
I can understand this from my own experiences with stress, as it’s in our nature to always help others before thinking about helping ourselves.
My wife works for the Ambulance Service and I know exactly what her and her colleagues have to deal with on a daily basis, and I’m sure it’s the same for all of you out there doing these demanding jobs and you have my total respect!!!
So, I’ve chosen to represent Mind; the Mental Health Charity and their Blue Light Programme, to raise awareness of the issues that can affect us all including our Emergency Services workers whom I’m extremely passionate about supporting.
To be told by Mind that one in four of us are experiencing such high levels of mental health problems and stress including PTSD that we have contemplated suicide or thought about leaving our jobs really struck a chord with me from my own experiences.
Mind has recognised this and for the past couple of years they have been delivering the Blue Light Programme to the Ambulance Service, Police, Fire & Rescue and Search & Rescue Services and all of their volunteers.
It means that there is help available if you feel that things are ever getting on top of you and it’s totally confidential.
They are always there to listen to you and they can direct you to local support services who can help you. I only wish I had known about it at the time I was having difficulties, as I could have done with some help and support, but I was unaware of it and was unwilling to turn to my own organisation.
There are so many people out there who need help, but have never heard of Mind and the support they can offer.
When I mention to colleagues that I’m climbing Everest to raise awareness of the Blue Light Programme, they say “Well, what’s that then, I’ve never even heard of it!?”
So, my motivation is clear and I know I’m doing the right thing in raising awareness and sending a message out to EVERYONE that help is available and it’s not a sign of weakness or something to be afraid of.
Everest is now something I feel I have to do. I don’t know what will happen, but I’m willing to roll the dice and take my chances.
I’m working extremely hard to finance it, train for it and make it all happen so I can do the best I can for this cause.
If you would like to support me for the cost of a MacDonalds Coffee, then please click below.
Buy a Cop’a Coffee!?
If you feel that what I’m doing is worth a Cup’a Coffee, then please would you shout me one? It will really help me on my way…
Chief Wiggum is waiting for you here to explain: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/buy-a-cop-a-coffee
100% of your donation will go straight to Mind and help towards the support of our Emergency Services through the Blue Light Programme. https://www.justgiving.com/fundrais…/mind-everest-expedition
Or simply share…
Thank you all for your support so far to help me reach the top of this flippin’ snowy hill and raise the profile of Mental Health within our Emergency Service
Please keep following my progress on Facebook @Mind Everest Expedition and be safe out there this Christmas.
I’ll be in touch soon…
Click below to follow Jamies progress via his Facebook page:
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