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Lebanon officer shares her story about overcoming PTSD: 'I felt like there was no hope'

Posted at 11:47 AM, May 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-25 14:26:38-04

BOONE COUNTY, Ind. -- A Boone County family with deep roots in law enforcement is using Mental Health Awareness month to share their story about overcoming some of life’s darkest moments.

Taylor Nielsen was working as an evidence technician for the Lebanon Police Department in February 2016 when a 31-year-old mother and her 4-year-old son were found fatally shot inside their Zionsville home.

In the months that followed that murder, Taylor said she became depressed and started having nightmares and suicidal thoughts.

“I felt like there was no hope,” said Nielsen. “I felt like I was not going to be treated for this or find any help for it.”

Last October, friends found her and saved her after she had attempted to take her own life.

“They ended up finding me in a field,” said Nielsen. “I remember one of them actually reaching their hand out and saying ‘it’s going to be okay.’”

Nielsen was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 

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Since that time, Taylor and her family have learned that talking about mental health struggles can save lives.

“When she stepped up and had the courage to speak out about her experiences it just changed my life forever,” said Taylor’s father, Mike Nielsen.

Mike is the Boone County Sheriff and was the commander at that gruesome murder scene in Zionsville.

“The incident that took place back in February of 2016 will forever be stuck in my mind,” said Sheriff Nielsen.

After helping his daughter get on the road to recovery, Sheriff Nielsen said he realized he also had PTSD and is now getting treatment.

 “It affects everybody out there,” said Sheriff Nielsen. “It doesn’t make any difference whether you’re a student, a police officer, whether you’re a teacher or a nurse – we are affected by mental health issues at some point in our life.”

Together, Sheriff Nielsen and his daughter are on a mission to erase the stigmas associated with mental health issues and to get federal legislation to help other officers who are suffering like they were.

Taylor said her message isn’t just for members of law enforcement though – it’s for everyone – especially parents and anyone who works with children.

“We have all of this education that we send our kids to yet we never teach them just how to love themselves,” said Taylor. “That could be one of the most powerful things and powerful moments in someone’s life.”

Taylor and her family want to help others recognize the signs of anxiety, stress and PTSD.

“There is help out there, and they can get that help,” said Taylor. And that is really what we want them to know.”

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