My name is Allison Kreft. I am a 34 year old mother of two married to an amazing supportive man for the past 13 years. I grew the early parts of my life in Rice Lake/ Cameron area of Wisconsin, GO PACK GO, and moved to Minnesota where my family put down roots in Pine City when I was 7.
When I was in elementary school my parents placed my siblings and I in a Christian Baptist Academy in Hinckley, MN that we helped found. After a few years they decided that homeschooling was a better option and my Grandmother agreed to homeschool my 3 siblings, 3 cousins and I in her tiny home in Pine City for three years. In 9th grade my parents decided it was best to put me back into public school where I completed highschool.
From a young age I was taught to be independent and strong by both my parents. I also saw a lot of very strong independent women in my family and was taught to be my own person no matter the cost. I did a lot of outdoor activities with my father like hunting, fishing, trapping, farming, camping and creating thing from nothing outside. My mother and grandmother taught me to cook, bake, sew and be extremely crafty.
I grew up going to a Minnesota Deer Hunter’s Association summer camp called Forkhorn in Virginia, MN where I met my now husband when I was 15. This camp really solidified my love for the outdoors and camping. It gave me the desire to become a Conservation Officer.
After high school I attended Vermillion Community College where I earned my Wildland Wildlife Law Enforcement Degree and then went on to complete my SPLERT (Seasonal Park Law Enforcement Ranger Training) Certificate. I also became the Secretary for the Law Enforcement Club. I had every intention to go on after college to become a police officer or a conservation officer.
After college the economy was terrible and there were no jobs to be found. I landed a job with American Security working at the Ford Motor Company in St. Paul. After about a year I moved to be a security officer at Fairview Southdale (now MHealth Southdale). I quickly moved to be a Supervisor at Southdale and fell in LOVE with the hospital atmosphere and the community I served. I quickly realized that hospital security was not just siting around. I wad quickly introduced to the psychiatric side of security within hospitals.
I found myself getting a bit bored with only a seven floor hospital so I landed a position with the University of Minnesota Medical Center (now MHealth UMMC) as a security officer. I also trained and worked as a dispatcher.
After about a year I continued my growth and received a position at Hennepin County Medical Center on October 17, 2011. I was told that HCMC was “the best of the best” and if I wanted to be a Cop I was at the right hospital to learn and be chosen by a police department.
The longer I worked for HCMC the less I wanted to be a Police Officer and the more I fell in love with the hospital atmosphere and the people I worked for and around. I built relationships with the staff and got to know the clientele. I held many positions while I was there. I was the Assistant Investigator for about 4 years, trainer, FTO, cross-trained dispatcher, CIT instructor, and I wrote the training manual for the department. I had so much fun getting on the floor and talking to everyone every day. When a new hire came in it was exciting to be able to walk next to them and mentor them while they got ready to be on their own.
Over my ten year career there were definitely a lot of ups and downs. HCMC has 6 separate inpatient psychiatric units, two of which are ICU units, one acute emergency psychiatric center (APS) and several psych clinics that we responded to numerous times throughout our shifts. You literally never knew what your shift was going to be like. You could walk in and have several ours of nothing or your first hour you could fight with 20 people and have to restrain all of them without getting a break between it all. Nevertheless I did it because I love to help people and I have a servants heart.
One day I walked into work and I was dispatched to a call for a schizophrenic and intoxicated patient in an EMS rig that needed coaxing into the ER. I arrived and the patient was up and down and all around. After some talking we were able to get him into the hospital and into an ER room. During our conversations with the patient and the Doctor, the patient went to swing to punch the Doctor in the face. I caught the punch with my hands and the fight was on. My partners and I physically restrained the patient and before we could put him into actual restraints, I was struck in the left temple which left me with a Traumatic Brain Injury. I started Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy a few months after getting injured but continued to work. I also talked to my TBI primary right away about being more anxious than normal and he recommended psych, but at the time I didn’t want to accept that I had anything I needed help for.
I started struggling with daily headaches and migraines. I began to distance myself from my coworkers and some friends and family and avoid calls at work when I could. I started to feel more and more anxious all the time, but more so while I was getting ready for work or the day leading up to work after a few days off. Going to the stores and the busy visual environments is hard for me. When someone yells it makes me so uncomfortable when it never used to.
While at work I would sweat and shake on calls. I would have complete panic attacks that would leave me uncontrollably crying, shaking and sweating in public situations and sometimes in the middle of calls. My self worth started to diminish because of all of this. I feel weak a lot because I feel like I should be able to control this. I also started to struggle with sleep and nightmares that were very specific to work related things.
As I started to acknowledge that there might be more going on than I wanted to admit I began talking to my husband and one of my bosses more about what was going on. My husband was so extremely supportive and talked me through everything I needed help with. He recommended I talk to a Psychologist and that I listen to my care team if they say they think I need that too as well. My boss also talked with the extensively about his experience with PTSD and said that he thought that I needed to at least talk with someone about what was going on.
I began talking to my psychologist last May and think it was one of the best decisions I have made medically during this process. I have also started to talk to a psychiatrist who matches my personality to a T and have agreed to be 100% open and honest with the two of them so that I can get the help I actually need. I decided to have serious conversations with my primary TBI doctor who wanted me to take a break from work for a while and I agreed to do this. I asked for one one more day at work to talk to my bosses and she let me do that. On my last day working at HCMC, June 28, 2021 I got hit in the head again by my coworker while making an arrest and ended up in the Emergency Department sedated. That was my last actual day worked.
I have also decided to, with the help of my care team, medically retire from my position as a Protection Officer at HCMC.
Every day is a new day. My life has drastically changed over the last 15 months and to be honest, not every day is easy. I have my good days and my bad days. My days where I am so anxious I could scream, I didn’t sleep well because I had a shitty dream, my days where my self worth is so low because I feel like I have lost everything career wise, my days were my head hurts so bad because of my TBI’s that I am on edge and crabby because it makes me remember why I feel like this.
Then there are my good days. Those are the ones I need to focus on. The ones were I get to be with my family and the ones were I get to be in front of the lathe creating beautiful works of art, or the ones were I get to spend at the Whitebear Makerspace Volunteering with the Invisible Wounds Project. Those are the ones I need to pull forward and focus on.
Talking about my own mental health struggles is sometimes embarrassing. I feel like the use of the term PTSD and Anxiety has been over popularized and nonchalantly used. I feel like there is a bad stigma to it when it is said and I want to help make it less harsh. I want to be able to take the stigma away and not feel so embarrassed. I feel that too often in the law enforcement and para-law enforcement world it is frowned upon to say that you need help and that is why there are so many people struggling. My hope is to be able to open up more of those conversations and also help me feel a bit less anxious in public settings.