The road back
My name is Matt and I have been a police officer for the past 21 years. Whilst on patrol I was seriously assaulted whilst breaking up a fight between four people. I was knocked out after one of them smashed a beer bottle over my head. I suffered physical injuries and then several months later, my mental health deteriorated and I ended up being taken to hospital and detained in a psych ward. I was subsequently diagnosed with PTSD. It took two years to start the process of returning to work.
As part of my journey towards health I became aware of the Forge Through program. I attended in August 2020. The program is professionally administered but is super casual and friendly. Dean and Gina have gone to great lengths to make participants feel welcome and safe. Dean is an expert practitioner who not only knows how to make a great knife, but is equally capable in the perhaps more difficult role of being an expert instructor. As I went through the process of making my knife - selection of discarded steel, heating the metal, shaping it, treating it, polishing and making the handle - the metaphor of how my journey of PTSD was so similar became strikingly clear.
This course taught me two very valuable things. Firstly, that whilst being incredibly difficult, trauma can provide the space for transformation. Like making a beautiful knife from an old discarded metal file, my life can similarly change. Secondly, the power of mateship and sharing. Sharing personal stories and experiences around a bonfire after the day is done allowed me to have renewed faith in the power of knowing that others hear and understand my story - and without judgement, stand ready to support me and be by my side. I would urge anyone who has been affected by the trauma associated with being a first responder or member of the armed services to consider the Forge Through program. Through the medium of fire and steel you will see yourself and your journey in the beautiful creation made entirely by you.
Matt NSW Police - serving