‘If it wasn’t for my wife I probably would be living under a bridge’

David Nelson.
David Nelson.

The former police officer was medically retired in 1993 at age 33 because he was going crazy – literally.

More than two decades later, between bites of a salad roll, the 54-year-old talked about the roots of his former madness.

He described the blood and guts, death, drugs and daily war zone that police officers dealt with, or didn’t deal emotionally with, which led him to create a hit list.

‘I started making this killing list. I started getting this fear that I was going to appear and had killed all of these people,’ he said.

His coping mechanism was to blank out, and that scared him most.

Mr Nelson described himself at his worst as ‘Mad Max in my own thunderdome’ and the then 25-year-old was scared he would put his fantasies into action.

With easy access to deadly weapons and with a sick mind, the father of two could quite possibly be sharing his story from a jail cell.

His hands shook when he wrote out tickets and he was worried he would overact and assault someone, so he went to the police doctor.

He had 28 visits in two years because of assaults, injuries and stress related symptoms ” yet remained operational.

It wasn’t until he threatened to put a police doctor on his hit list that he was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for three months.

Six months after leaving the hospital ward, he was cleared to carry a gun and drive police pursuit cars again.

He had a point to prove; that he was well. ‘I thought I was fine,’ Mr Nelson said.

‘I started going to fights (in pubs) again and loving it. I thought I was fully recovered.

‘Then I started crashing cars, I was involved in lots of fights, I fired my gun at somebody.

‘Then the complaints started coming in.’

Mr Nelson went to his own GP only to find the medication he had been taking for 6½ years should only be taken for a few weeks because it was known to impair judgement and reactions.

‘When I stopped taking it, I started walking around in circles,’ he said. ‘My skin started burning and 21 years later it still does.

‘I was retired two years later and my wife has been looking after me ever since.’

Death had crossed his mind, haunted by everyday things ” white crosses, power poles, brick walls, trees ” anything that reminded him of his damaging past.

‘I’ve crafted my life so I feel like I avoid nothing ” it’s my normal but the reality is I still avoid everything,’ Mr Nelson said.

‘If it wasn’t for my wife, I probably would be living under a bridge somewhere.’