The retired cop talks about the importance of getting help.
Fans of GH’s Maurice Benard and his video podcast, State Of Mind, have grown accustomed to his celebrity guests sharing their vulnerable sides, and more recently, everyday people with bigger-than-life stories to tell. This week, the actor-turned-ever-more-seasoned-host invited a retired police officer, Ben Martinez, to share his experience of being assaulted while on duty and how it lead to being diagnosed as bipolar at the age of 50.
Maurice Benard and Ben Martinez: The Incident
At a recent event, Benard (Sonny Corinthos) met Ben Martinez through his young son-in-law, Carlos Avila. Avila and Ben Martinez, Jr. are friends who have discussed the experiences of young Ben’s father, retired police officer Ben Martinez, Sr., who battled bipolar disease and years of depression before and after being shot on the job years earlier.
Martinez experienced times before the incident when he felt himself pulling apart from other people. It’s fascinating. Based on what I now know, my mother suffered from depression, which I was unaware of. I wasn’t aware of that when I was younger, but as I got older, I began to enter these extremely peaceful states. He reported the initial symptoms. The part of depression that would enter it is that “I would see myself not interacting with my wife and not interacting with my kids as much as I wanted to.”
Martinez discussed his battle with depression and the workplace incident that motivated him to get therapy. It got harder and harder to handle over the course of my adult life. The darkness he carried with him was only made worse by his occupation. “I believe that one of the reasons it originally got more challenging for me was the fact that I was involved in an officer-involved shooting. The person was intoxicated from beer and marijuana. I failed miserably in my attempt to restrain him, falling to the ground as a result. At that point, I did have to shoot him because he was essentially on top of me and punching me.
Having served in the military before becoming a peace officer, he discovered the hard way that tough guys are not bulletproof. “You would assume that since the gunshot was survived, everything should be alright. At that point, I was in such a hole that I essentially didn’t want to survive.
Ben Martinez: The Aftermath
The seasoned officer found himself self-medicating or drinking, as many others do to cope with the pain of mental illness. He explained, “I wasn’t a drinker previously. Although I was able to stop it from getting worse, it was enough to let my wife know that something wasn’t right. She raised an eyebrow when she came home and saw me drinking although we had only ever had alcohol together when we went out.
Trigger Warning: The subject matter that follows makes references to suicide and suicidal thoughts. There are options for getting assistance if you or someone you know is contemplating suicide. In case of emergency, dial 988 or 911.
Suicidal thoughts began to creep into his head when he realized he couldn’t cure his ailments. “I do love my wife, therefore it’s hard for me to talk about this. I do care about my kids. But there was a time in his life when he really picked up the gun, pointed it in the direction of his head, and pulled the trigger. Unfortunately, the bullet didn’t cycle properly and jammed. To be completely honest, it was just one of those situations when you thought, “Oh, just not today.
Martinez ended up in a mental hospital after spending years attempting to cope. “I won’t say that it is culture. I won’t argue that machismo or the pressure of working as a police officer prevented him from receiving treatment. He at last understood he needed assistance. Many other officers, firefighters, or military members realize how difficult it is to not be the one everyone looks to.
He encapsulated the overarching justification of those who had pledged to serve and protect us. No, we all feel pain. All of us take in a lot. We are unfortunate not to be armored walls. We absorb up that material like sponges on a regular basis, and if we don’t find a method to squeeze it out later, it gets heavier and heavier, dragging you down more.
General Hospital’s Maurice Benard sat down with a man from poor circumstances who joined the military and eventually the police in order to uphold the moral standard in the wake of George Floyd, the defund the police campaign, and the January 6th Capitol attack. Awe-inspiring to those who are suffering from the daily barrage of bad news.
Ben Martinez spoke softly about his upbringing in Coachella Valley, where his parents worked multiple jobs to support their family, his struggles in school, his decision to enlist in the military like his father and grandfather did, his time spent working with migrants and refugees at Guantanamo Bay, and what ultimately inspired him to become a police officer.
He was open about his experiences as an officer involved in a shooting incident, the aftermath, using his struggles to help others, and finally reaching out and getting the help he needed. It is an eye-opening look behind the scenes of the boys in blue who do it for all the right reasons. Don’t miss this emotional episode of State Of Mind.
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