Blog: Maria Fox, my journey back to health

Published 22 May 2023
Written by
Maria Fox
T/Chief Superintendent, West Midlands Police
Reading time
10 mins

Faced with burnout in October 2020 and believing her policing career was over, this is T/Chief Superintendent Maria Fox’s inspirational story of how she reset every health pillar, turning adversity into opportunity whilst sharing a road map for others to improve health.

About six months into my Counter Terrorism role my health started to decline, ignoring the signs I tried to carry on as normal until it all became too much and by the end of October 2020 I was in complete burnout and was unable to work. After a period of absence I returned to work in May 2021 and in September 2021 I accepted a role back in Local Policing where I continued to build my resilience to get back to full health.  In July 2022, I knew I was well again as I passed the selection process and was appointed T/Chief Superintendent at Sandwell. 

During a two week post-operative recuperation in August 2022 I decided to write my book - “Crisis to Comeback”. I wanted to share with others how, faced with obesity, a second DVT, a severe ECG condition, acute perimenopausal stress and emotional breakdowns, I found myself unable to continue working and how I came back from such a health crisis and developed a roadmap for others to learn from.

Policing can take its toll on any of us, the pressure can be relentless and can leave its mark physically, emotionally and spiritually. Many of us rely on caffeine to wake us, sugar to keep us going, alcohol to wind down and once we hit our mid-forties (especially us women going through hormonal chaos) it gets a lot harder to maintain.

By telling my story I hope to raise awareness and encourage others to take a different approach to self-care, prioritising both their mental and physical health.  I want to reduce the stigma of alcohol consumption as a “go to”, explaining why it can become so destructive for many, and advise how to change this pattern. I am now motivated to help others change and look after their wellbeing, providing them with the tools and approaches to look after themselves.

Since my return to work in May 2021 I have gone from strength to strength, I have continued to apply the learning from my burnout experience and I hope my story will inspire others to take small steps to improve their own health and wellbeing. 

More about 'Crisis to Comeback'

As Maria approached age 50, passionately pursuing her vocation in policing, and serving as a senior leader for over 17 years, she was faced with a series of escalating physical and mental health symptoms that threatened to end her career prematurely.  

Having never previously suffered with any significant mental health challenges, she finds herself adrift with no anchor or navigation system to follow.  Once an exceptionally capable, energetic, extroverted and highly motivated individual, she felt as though she had lost all capability and was left with limited mental and emotional resilience; she could not even see herself returning to her senior policing role and sought pension advice on the implications of retiring early.  Her dream of completing her 30 years of service with pride and a sense of fulfilling her potential appear dashed, as she resigns herself to the priority at hand - taking care of the basics to make some kind of recovery….

Would her strategy and tactics for self care be enough for her to return to her full time role? Could she reverse the diagnosed heart irregularity without medical intervention? Would she be able to maintain her physical and mental health if she returned to work? Could she manage intensely stressful work demands again and press on towards another promotion?

This book tells the true story of how she turned her physical and mental health adversity on its head to become the healthiest, fittest, strongest and leanest version of herself in adulthood.  She shares candidly and courageously all factors leading to her burnout, interweaving science and her own lived experience to provide you with practical tools to take control of your own health, for prevention as well as cure.

Using Lumen to hack her metabolism, and pursuing an alcohol free lifestyle prove to be crucial components in her full recovery, health transformation and subsequent successful career progression.  This book will inspire and motivate you to make better choices with regards to your own health and wellbeing as well as learning how good and consistent health choices provide strong foundations for success in all other areas of your life.

If you are interested in reading Maria's book you can find out more here

More about Maria:

Maria Fox is currently a T/Chief Superintendent in West Midlands police.  She started in her service in Greater Manchester in July 1994 and has been a senior leader since February 2005.  She has undertaken front line and leadership roles in uniform and as a detective at every rank both in Greater Manchester and the West Midlands where she has worked in some of the most challenging operational contexts, from Moss Side, Manchester to Handsworth, Birmingham. 

As a Chief Inspector she undertook numerous roles – Crime manager, Homicide SIO, Local policing Chief Inspector and Force Incident manager over a period that spanned 8 years. 

In 2013 she was promoted Superintendent to Walsall as the Local Policing Crime and Operations’ Superintendent before she moved in 2015 to become D/Superintendent leading WMP’s Serious and organised crime, Force Priorities’ and Economic Crime units whilst overseeing Kidnap and Extortion for the West Midlands region. 

Towards the end of 2017 she moved laterally within the Force CID department to lead WMP’s volume, violence, acquisitive and complex crime investigations’ teams – a workforce of approximately 500 with 100 leaders from Sgt – Chief Inspector across all the geographic command units across the West Midlands. In the summer of 2019 she moved to CTP WMCTU becoming regional lead for Prevent, Prepare and Protect. She is now a T/Chief Superintendent in local policing.

Copyright statement

Our published blog articles are written or supplied by the third parties we’ve identified and are not available for re-use under the non-commercial College licence. Anyone wishing to copy or reuse all or any part of these articles will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright owner(s).