Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Coping Mechanisms

So here's an interesting article from Max Hastings Read Here about keeping a stiff upper lip and how sometimes it's better for you in the long run. He was embedded with The British Army during the Falklands War so should know about the stresses and traumas of conflict. I have linked to Rogue Gunner who was out there, do pay him a visit it's a great blog dedicated to HM Forces.

I think trauma and work related stresses are not necessarily one and the same, but one on top of the other could tip you over the edge. I've seen some horrible sights and still been able to eat my breakfast, because it's how you cope with it that matters. If you are in the police you are going to see murdered people or deaths in car crashes, just as, if you're in the army in conflict you will have to deal with the loss of comrades. (in fact that is highly likely with the police too but can't be compared).

Black Humour is hard to explain, but often after a horrible sight I've ended up joking about it with colleagues. This is not very Politically Correct in today's climate, but it is a coping mechanism. I recall a quote from the Falklands war when somebody had their leg blown off and was screaming "I've lost my leg", only for mate to reply "No you haven't it's over here". It's a way of getting on with it, instead of flapping.

How we pissed ourselves at the sight of the old man who had been dead for well over 6 months in his flat and was melting into the floor. Unbelievable sight but we had to deal with it. You can dwell on the loneliness he must have felt and lack of good neighbours afterwards.

We used to have a drink after work if there'd been a major incident. After the poll tax riots nobody went home and we all stayed for a few beers and worked through it together. I was on the riot squad then and believe me we were wiped out. I'll save that story for a 20th anniversary post. It's a form of critical incident debriefing, but what with different shift patterns the after work drink appears to have died off.

My blogging on here is itself a coping mechanism. Before this I would have been out running a few times a week, healthy body healthy mind scenario. See, even being held together by a few screws needs an outlet to deal with it, otherwise I'd be on that slippery slope downwards again.

What I got from counselling was you need to deal with it (stress) in whatever way works for you. Understand that what you are feeling or displaying is a natural reaction to events. I've put a Burnout document in the sidebar - it's worth reading just to help you recognise behaviours in others.

It makes sense. I was obsessed with cleaning the toilets in my house. Harpic really does work on those difficult limescale deposits. It's all in the list. So if stiff upper lip works for you great but I suggest if you are at the Flashing Red stage you need to try something else.

1 comment:


Thanks for the link, I wish you a stress free life!