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When Asking for Help in the Past Affects Your Job Prospects in the Future

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I applied to be a police officer, twice. I was denied.

Let me rewind. When I was 21, I met a guy at work. Less then a year later, I was married. I knew what I was getting into, but I didn’t know to what extent. A few months after I turned 22, the guy I married made me believe I was sick. He was addicted to drugs and suddenly started beating me, convincing me that I was worthless. I was so young and so scared. I fell into a world of panic and self-abuse. Five months after my wedding, I decided I couldn’t help myself anymore — or anyone for that matter. I found myself truly horrified at myself and the person I had become. I knew if I went home after work that one of us was going to die.

So, I asked for help.

Instead of going home, I went to the hospital. For five days I shared a room with a woman with schizophrenia. I ate lunch with drug addicts. I was pushed pills by a nurse four times a day. I saw a psychiatrist every day. I showered with two nurses watching me. I was constantly being told that I didn’t belong there by the other patients.

When was being released, the doctor told me his first words of advice… “Don’t go home to that man. You are not sick.” After being released, I went to an intensive outpatient program where I learned DBT. I graduated from the program, med-free. I got a great job. I divorced my husband. I bought a house. My soul needed more though. I wanted to help people. I wanted to protect people like I used to. I applied to be a police officer and made it through all the testing. However, in the interview I told the truth. They told me they thought I needed more time, but that I was an ideal candidate. That I should try again when I was more confident in who I am. In 2018, I applied again and made it through testing again. This time, I was turned down. Disqualified, they said to me. Because my psychological background does not meet their “standards.”

I was being punished for asking for help. I know the police stigma right now is not good. I also know that my history doesn’t exactly say, “Give me a gun! I’m a qualified candidate to act under pressure.” However, I believe I was more qualified than others because I asked for help. Instead, I was shamed. Shamed for protecting myself. Shamed for being scared. Shamed for being hurt. Shamed for not knowing who I was. Shamed for letting another person make me believe I was not worth it. All the same things that my ex-husband made me feel.

I will never take back that day I went to the hospital. It changed my life in a million magical ways. I always felt like I needed to help people and even though I won’t do that by being a police officer, I have helped people. I survived a thing that many people do not. I am alive. I now understand that when I went to the hospital that day, I helped more people than I would have ever imagined: my family, my best friend, my future colleagues, my ex-husband, all the people I will meet in the future and myself.

I changed the world that day. I will not be ashamed.

Originally published: May 6, 2019
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