2am Reflections: Life Shouldn't Be a Life Sentence

You are on your final night shift before going onto days off. Strangely, there is a brief lull on the radio and there are no jobs being dispatched. You are sitting there in your patrol car while your partner is in the all-night garage. They are raiding the aisles for crisps, a great big bag of chewy sweets. Not forgetting that night time staple, the largest can of caffeine laden energy drink, with a name like War Lord or something equally ridiculous, to give you that final burst of energy to get you to the end of your shift.

It’s raining steadily, bitterly cold and your mind wanders.

Although the call of the duvet may be playing in your ear you know that it’s your first day off and you will stay up, try and muster some enthusiasm for the day and offer to take the kids to school. It will be the first breakfast you have shared with them all week.

Despite your best intentions you will walk around like a zombie from some Hollywood B movie, are curt with your partner and the kids. You marvel that you can even keep your eyes open. You look in the mirror and see someone who vaguely resembles you but now has that sickly grey pallor and have added at least 10 years to your actual age. The black circles around your eyes remind you of your visit to the panda enclosure at the local zoo.

Life feels like a treadmill, picking up pace leaving you struggling to stay on your feet. Each and every day is a challenge to even get out of bed. But you do because you have people who rely on you, a mortgage to be paid along with a stack of other bills just so you can go on existing. It’s never ending! When did life become this hard?

Briefly your mind flits back to your first day on the job, all shiny and new. You smile at the fresh-faced naivety and remember, a little embarrassed in all honesty, at your response at interview when asked why you wanted to join the service. With your shoulders back, your chest thrust forward you announced, “because I want to help people”.

That’s where it all began, but somewhere over the years and the never-ending demands as budget cuts ravaged an already stretched service you began to lose sight of yourself, of your values. Your health takes the hit time and again, and still you force yourself out of the door, “just one more shift”.

Radio static cuts into your 5 minutes of respite and there’s another job to attend……. Oh well, only 5 more hours to go (fingers crossed I don’t get kept on).

- When did you last put yourself first, if only briefly?

- When did you last feel joy, fun and happiness?

- When was the last time you were the partner you vowed to be?

- Or the type of parent you wanted your kids to have?

There is another way. I know, because when the stress and anxiety took their toll on me, I had two choices;

- Do nothing and see the husk of a person that I had become, struggle with even the simplest of tasks, shrouded in a darkness I wouldn’t want to ever re-visit.

- Or, invest time and effort into working out what I wanted, what made me tick, what made me smile.

That I am here sharing my thoughts is a testament to the route I chose to take in my darkest moment.

Life shouldn’t be a life sentence!

Work to live, doing something that gives you satisfaction and joy.

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