A police chief faces his PTSD

I’ve written in this space before about the Facebook page of Kenyon police chief Lee Sjolander, whose writing reveals him as a philosopher, a healer, and counselor as well as being a cop.

Perhaps no other Minnesotan with a high profile has so well used the medium since former lawmaker Win Borden, who died a few years ago.

Sjolander’s post this week reveals that he struggles with post traumatic stress disorder — PTSD.

It’s time to visit about my PTSD…

So, let’s take some time and visit about mental illness, and mental health. I’m pretty much an open book and if you followed us here for any length of time, know that I will share things about myself if I think it can help others. Well, I think it’s time to let you into my world a little bit more.

So last fall was tough for me. I was so down and anxious. Now, all of us have times where we don’t feel 100%, but this was that times 1000. I found myself getting internally angry about things that I never did before. I wasn’t taking my anger out on the public, my coworkers, or my family, but I was angry. I was also depressed, filled with guilt, and shame. Nothing seemed to bring me any peace or joy. This was way more than just the blues. All of this was made worse by the anxious feelings I was having all the time. No matter what was going well for me, I kept feeling this huge cloud like the other shoe was going to drop at any time. I found myself avoiding any feelings of happiness, because I didn’t want them taken away by overwhelming sadness.

I kept reliving the worst calls I’ve ever had. One I called “32 teeth” because I remember how hard I worked at recovering every tooth at the scene and that’s all I want to say about that.

I had a “moment” with Mrs. Chief in the garage after the funeral of a local man I looked up to where I broke down… She and the rest of my family have been so supportive, and my family also includes my coworkers.

Time for some help…

I went to my family doctor and described the best I could what I was feeling. He suggested I look at taking some medication and speaking to somebody professionally about what I was experiencing. I started taking some medication, taking better care of myself, and I found a wonderful therapist who has been a huge help during this whole process. I’ll start weaning off the medication soon, but the therapist still has some work to do. I didn’t get this way overnight, and I certainly know I won’t be back to my old self overnight.

Here’s some advice…

You are not going to be good for anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself. It’s not selfish, it’s good common sense and it’s very important.

Take some time off. No one ever put on their tombstone the amount of vacation days they had left. Take the time off if you have it, it’s important and I will be taking time off this summer.

“Real men” cry, admit when they’re wrong, help out around the house, and are not afraid to speak to somebody professionally about their feelings and are willing to journal about “stuff”

Ok, that’s enough sharing for one night. Thanks for being here and being part of my journey.

Stay safe,

It’s a struggle, obviously. But two aides posted that they’re helping the chief.


(h/t: Audrey Kletscher Helbling)