I was married with two young children and work-life balance just wasn’t there. I had started to recognise that my temper was not as under control as it once was but fortunately I had people I could talk to and this included 3 sessions with the department funded psych service.
The result was simply that I was responding to some difficult circumstances… but that left the question of where to from here?
The options were clear. I could remain in circumstances where I was not happy expecting that they would change. This was not likely any time soon. Or I could try and find a way to accept the circumstances at work and be happy, but this was also unlikely. I could leave and seek alternative circumstances…
The timing was fortunate as my long service leave was due and I was able to use the time to plan an alternative. While I had always considered my police career was going to be my only career and see me through to my retirement, I had a degree and qualifications from before I started policing so after 15+ years of policing, I returned to Uni to complete a Diploma of Education and became a primary school teacher.
Leaving was an interesting experience; nothing from the Association or the Department, no phone call or conversation. I had arranged the date with HR and local management were more interested in ensuring that all uniform items were returned than considering my welfare.
It has definitely been a bumpy ride since leaving, as every school I have worked at has had people with a variety of opinions and attitudes towards police.
Now working with the Retired Peer Support Program, I have found many former members forget that they had a life before they joined ‘the job’ or think that there is one beyond it. While a great and unique job, it is just that. None of us are ‘just’ anything. I am the combination of my life experiences; good or bad. I feel an affinity to my old school (30 years on), ‘The Job’, (5 years on), and my current profession.
I am more than capable of remembering the many funny, unbelievable, anecdotes and experiences from the 15+ years in the job. I too, like most, have pushed all of the mundane, boring, annoying and sometimes traumatic memories to the back of my mind.
Some of my observations:
- No other workplace has the camaraderie that policing offered.
- The frustration caused by the circumstances that made you change career takes a long time to wear off.
- You may question the value of your service as quickly everyone you knew has moved on.
- The pressures of the world are everywhere and continue after policing and sometimes you may wish there was still the supports that you had when in the job.
I left the job as it was the best option for me and my family at the time. Do I question if it was the right decision? Sometimes. Do I miss the job? Sometimes. Do I love having more time with my children and consider it was the best thing for my physical and mental health… without doubt!
I am very fortunate that when I felt it was time to leave the job, I had the financial circumstances to support the change. Although I took a pay cut when I resigned, I think physical and mental health is far more important to a family than money.
The support services and assistance to members who are considering leaving has improved from 5 years ago when I left. If you are thinking about wanting to leave but have doubts (which you will) seek advice and support so that if or when you take the step, it is informed and supported. It was a shock to my system and quite daunting, but with my support network, it was a move for the best.