Retired police officer speaks of PTSD fight after ‘fearing for life on duty

Mark Rawlins cycling from John O'Groats to Lands End, pictured with some of his support crew.

Mark Rawlins cycling from John O'Groats to Lands End, pictured with some of his support crew. - Credit: Archant

A former Weston policeman forced to retire after ‘fearing for his life’ while on duty has cycled more than 900 miles in support of other officers suffering from a serious anxiety disorder.

Mark Rawlins served as a frontline 24/7 response officer with Avon and Somerset Constabulary for 27 years before what seemed like a routine investigation into a theft in 2010 went drastically wrong.

He was forced to retire due to the trauma of being attacked by the suspect.

Mark, who lives in Hutton, said: “I attended an incident when I attempted to detain a man for theft.

“He began to fight with me and then his friend also began to attack me – I feared for my life.

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“That evening, I fell asleep at about 7pm and didn’t wake up for 20 hours.

“My body had gone into total shock which was confirmed by my doctor the next day.

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“The incident ended my career, I never returned to work.”

Mark was first diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in January 2011, but was re-diagnosed with severe PTSD in May this year.

The condition still has a ‘significant’ effect on his life, causing issues with anger and depression.

Mark said: “PTSD can have a significant impact on day-to-day living.

“I experience flashbacks and nightmares several times a week.

“I constantly sweat and fight throughout the night – sleep is a problem which is hard to overcome.

“It is very hard to relax with PTSD and sufferers will feel anxious most of the time.

“Concentration also becomes a major issue. Simple things such as following directions become a problem.”

To raise awareness and money for charity Injury on Duty Pensioners Association, Mark has completed a two-week cycle from John O’Groats to Land’s End.

He has raised around £10,000 for the charity and believes more is needed to be done to show the impact PTSD has on daily life.

Mark added: “Hundreds of police officers are diagnosed with PTSD every year, all over the UK.

“It is hard leaving it at work when you attend a cot death on Christmas Day.

“It is hard to leave it at work when you attend a gunshot suicide, are first on the scene and see the devastation.”

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