Can anyone offer some guidance for this situation?

I haven’t posted here in forever, so I’m not completely sure if this is the right forum for this topic. I apologize if this belongs somewhere else. I’m just hoping that some one out there might have some advice or guidance to offer me.

So here’s what’s going on: my boyfriend and I have been together for about a year now and are very much in love. We started talking about marriage and family about six months into our relationship and I’ve never been happier than I have been since I’ve been with him. Everything about our relationship was perfect up until about two months ago. He is a police officer and in the past six years has been involved in three fatal shootings. I heard a little about the shootings from the mutual friend who introduced us before we ever went out, but he has only talked to me about them a few times. I could tell from those conversations that they did weigh heavily on him, but for the most part he seemed like he was handling it pretty well.

Then, a couple of months ago we learned that there are still some outstanding legal issues with the most recent shooting. I think it’s probably better that I not go into details about that here, but he was “cleared” of any wrongdoing and sent back to work shortly after the shooting. Now these other issues have come up, and I think it must have stirred up some memories because his personality has completely changed over the past couple of months. He used to be so open and loving towards me all the time, but suddenly he has drastic mood changes where one minute he’ll be telling me how much he loves me and the next he’ll start talking about how he’s not “being a good boyfriend” to me and thinks I’d be better off if we broke up. During the times that he thinks we should break up, he’s not hostile or abusive or anything, he’s just very cold and will go all day without calling or messaging me (when he used to communicate with me pretty much nonstop everyday) and then is really short with me when we do talk. It’s almost like he’s trying to push me to break up with him, but in the same breath he tells me how much he loves me and how much better I make his life.

About a week ago we had a long discussion where I confronted him about everything and he told me that he’s been having a great deal of trouble sleeping because he keeps thinking about the shootings. He has literally been going several days without sleeping until he basically crashes and sleeps for a long time and then the cycle starts again. I’ve also noticed that he’s not eating like he used to and is losing weight and muscle mass pretty quickly. I have begged him to see a counselor, a doctor, anyone because I really think he needs help that I’m not equipped to give him. He refuses to talk to anyone because he says that it could do a lot of damage to him at work if anyone found out. That’s when I suggested that he talk to one of the Priests at my parish because I think they could give him some good advice and I know they’d keep it confidential. He refuses to do that either. He isn’t Catholic - he was raised in a pretty strict Baptist home, but has been going to Mass and other parish events with me since we first started dating. I think he wants very much to have the same faith that he did when he was young, but after seeing all the horrible things that he has, he finds it very difficult to do so. He tells me frequently that he admires my faith, but he just can’t find it in himself to have faith for himself.

I’m so worried and completely at a loss as to what I should do. I pray for him every single day, but everything just seems to get worse and worse. He is so exhausted and clearly depressed, but I don’t know how to help him if he won’t seek help for himself. I’m really afraid that this is going to cause us to break up. He bears so much guilt and I honestly think he’s talked himself into believing that I’d be better off without him. I’ve tried to convince him that that isn’t true at all. I love him with all my heart and I want more than anything for him to be happy and healthy again. I just don’t know what to do for him.

Does anyone have any thoughts or advice or anything for me? This is one of those things that I can’t really talk to anyone I know about because for obvious reasons I don’t want my friends and family to know about the shootings. I’ve always been really good at solving problems, but this is one that I can’t figure out…

***Wow, I’m so sorry. :(This has got to be very difficult for him, and you to watch him go through this pain and torment. I don’t have any advice, except that a good counselor could help him considerably. I will keep you both in my prayers…just be there for him, he needs you now more than ever. You sound like a very special couple. ***

The most important thing you can do for a man is to tell him how important he is to you and how much you love him. Ask him to do things for you and show how appreciative you are for all the things he does.

Unfortunately, it may also be true that he thinks that what he is doing right now is in your best interest, that he is trying to protect you. Perhaps you can make it clear that you’d rather he be honest and forthcoming than depressed?

Of course, it would be one thing if your boyfriend became abusive, but you really need to stick in there and show him what love really is.

Finally, for his sake and the sake of your relationship, if you feel that it has become very serious and that he may be in danger, it may be helpful to even stage a sort of intervention. If he won’t go see help, bring the help to him.

Obviously, as you know, he is very depressed, and a lot is weighing on his mind.

  1. Google information on PTSD as it sounds like that’s what he is going through.

  2. I’m wondering if he is also blaming himself for the shootings which is thus causing him to say he is no good (o you or to anybody).

  3. Be a rock solid foundation for him. Don’t decide to break up but don’t decide to marry. Be an example of strength and stability to him as that is what he needs right now. Later on the Holy Spirit will show you if you and he shouls marry.

  4. Above all, have Masses offered up for him and pray mightily for him that Satan isn’t able to use this weak period in his life to attack him some more, enter into him and cause more problems. Pray to the guardian angel of policemen – St. Michael the Archangel.

Here’s my suggestion, for what it’s worth.

Tell him something like this. Face to face, not on the phone or the 'net.

"I know you’re in a really bad place right now and I don’t want to add to your load. But I have to ask you to make a tough sacrifice for me. I need something from you, and I need it badly.

"I know you think that the best thing you can do for me right now is to get out of my life. What I want from you is to let me decide what is best for me.

"I’ve decided that the best thing for me right now is to help you, support you, and stand by you in this. The tough sacrifice I ask is for you to let me do this up close and personal.

“You’re a cop. You don’t run away from trouble. I’m a cop’s girl. I don’t run away from trouble, either. We’re in trouble right now. Together. My job is to get your back, not desert you when things get bad. Let me do my job.”

God bless both of you. You are in my prayers. I ask St. Michael to intercede for him, to bring him healing and peace, and I ask our Lady to cover you both with her mantle. And I ask St. Padre Pio to intercede for his conversion.
:signofcross:

Ruthie

His department should have some sort of counseling available for him. Do you know any of his fellow officers or his supervisor who could help you get him to see that he needs help? I would not necessarily break up but, I definately would not marry him while he is in this frame of mind.

Thanks for all the encouragement and advice. I feel like a weight has been lifted just by being able to “talk” to other people about this. All of your kind words and prayers are much appreciated.

I have no intention of breaking up with him. I love him so very much, and I want to help him get through this. My fear though is that he is talking himself into breaking up with me. He really seems to be struggling with the fact that he can’t give me anything in an emotional sense right now. I’ve tried telling him that I understand he’s going through a very difficult time and that I don’t expect anything from him right now besides just letting me be there to help him. It’s just very hard for him to accept that, as he definitely has a “protector/provider” type of personality.

As for counseling through the department, it is available, but he went through all the required counseling (which in my understanding is mostly a formality - just a couple of sessions, which most cops spend convincing the counselor that they’re perfectly fine) after each shooting and was put back to work. He feels that if he seeks further counseling, they may think he’s unfit for duty. He would be truly heartbroken if that happened - he LOVES being a cop more than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s been a year and a half since the last shooting and it seems that the expectation of his peers and supervisors is that he should be “over it” by now. He does have one close friend at work that has been involved in a couple of siniliar incidents himself, and I suspect that my boyfriend does confide in him a lot because he thinks that he understands. But that guy is by no means a professional counselor, which is what I think he needs.

On the bright side, we did have a very nice date yesterday afternoon/evening. He seemed fairly relaxed and even fell asleep on my sofa for a couple of hours which is apparently the only sleep he’s had in days. I’ve been praying for him incessantly and asking St. Michael ans St. Dymphna to intercede for him as well. I’m trying very hard to have faith that he is going to get through this, but I admit that some days I feel very hopeless…

***I’ll be praying for you and him, Felicity. ***

:gopray2: Your post really moved me. Poor man, devoting his life to keeping others safe and experiencing this. I will say some prayers for you too. I agree that the best thing you can do is to show him (and tell him) that he still has your respect and admiration and that you have made your choice - to be there for him. Ruthie’s post says it better than I can.

Keep praying - and remember others are praying for you too:)

I would challenge him on his answer. Most police departments are very aware of post traumatic stress syndrome. He should have been sent to counseling immediately after the shootings, this is usually standard operating procedure within any police department. The stress that police officers endure are well known within the LE community, they have dealt with it for several years. He is in more danger of losing his job if he does not get help. As it is right now his ability to function as a police officer is compromised, I also know that many departments do have “stress leave” available to officers-the stress officers deal with even if they never have to use their weapon is much different than other types of jobs-because you have to be ready for any type of situation-the situations they walk into are usually different than the info they received-they have to “switch gears”-dealing with criminals, dealing with victims, car crashes, whose lying, whose telling the truth, making split second decisions that can’t be changed, like what level of force to use,the list goes on & on. It’s a real hard job with some hard choices to make & the public is right there doing Monday night quarterbacking and these cops literally only have seconds to decide & act, then they have to live with that decision. Of course Police Departments are well aware of this also When one receives therapy it falls under the laws of confidentiality, those who work with him don’t need to know. I’ll be praying for you both. God Bless

Felicity,
These are all good responses to your situation, so I don’t know if I have much to offer that would help any better, other than prayers, of course. But it does seem to me that he is suffering some crisis of faith here, and that the consequences of his actions have begun attacking his confidence in his own personality and in his relationship with God. The answer to this attack (from the Devil, but also from our own understanding of virtue, and who we are) is not to run from faith and religion, but toward it, go deeper into it. It seems to me that the first thing is to remind him that the truth about our God is that He is Self-giving Love, and that He wants and expects us to be like Him. This is exactly what his job asks of him on a daily basis, even at times to a heroic degree. He is placing himself on the line to protect God’s children, and he accepts the risk, just as our Lord did, that it may cost him life or limb. This does not make him a bad person, but a heroic person, just like our Lord, who was Himself fearless. But it does invite him into a closer experience with our Lord of the mysteries of Life and Death, and blame and consequence. Sometimes Christians find it hard to recognize this about ourselves, because we think humility is not electing ourselves heroes, or in claiming to be good. As long he is not making mistakes, which would be understandable under the circumstances, the other person must take responsibility for the consequences for his soul. And also, I would say, that both you and he should not carry the importance of his work as a secret alone to yourselves. You and his work are a part of all of us.

Felicity,

You might kindly point out to your boyfriend that he is more likely to be removed as unfit for duty if he doesn’t get some help, because he cannot hide these symptoms forever, and sooner or later, someone is going to notice that his job performance is suffering (if they haven’t already). Don’t underestimate the observation skills of others or his employer. A human being cannot go for days without sleeping or eating and not exhibit effects from it, and such personality changes as you have described will not go unnoticed, either.

Also, you might kindly point out that as a police officer responsible for public welfare, it is his duty to be at his best mentally and physically, because an officer has to be quick at his job, make responsible judgments on the fly, drive a patrol car safely, and fire a gun quickly and accurately, plus keep himself and his fellow officers and the public out of danger. As the depression increases and the lack of sleep and proper nutrition compound, he will not be able to perform his job safely, and could put himself and others at risk.

Nobody needs to know he is getting help, if he chooses not to disclose it. An employer cannot disclose anything medical to anyone without the risk of facing serious legal consequences. But it is my guess that if he did reveal it to his friends, they would be supportive of him, if they are friends.

I can say this because I was once in a similar situation when I experienced a severe clinical depression many years ago. I was fooling myself that others did not notice the changes in me, and I voluntarily went on a leave of absence to get treatment, because I realized that my depression was impairing my functioning as a nurse, and I did not want to put my patients’ safety in danger by giving a wrong medication or making some other bad mistake. I never suffered any employment consequences from it, and when I did tell some friends at work, they were surprisingly (to me) very supportive, and that’s when I found out that others had noticed my condition.

Please continue to be as supportive as you are to him, but also be truthful. He sounds like he really needs some help, and there is no shame in it, no more than having diabetes, or heart disease or some physical ailment. I will keep him in my prayers.

No advice, I just wanted to say that I really think you are doing the right things by talking to him about it, encouraging him to get help, and praying for him. Maybe you could start a thread in the Prayer Warriors forum? If you do, please link it here!

Your boyfriend needs a medical and psychological evaluation to determine the best possible course of action. Please encourage him to do so. Medical advice is not permitted on CAF, however. Best of luck and God bless.

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