I looked into the mirror and did not see the same person I once saw

I have PTSD

I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD for short.  You may ask yourself, how can this be?  It is what we see in soldiers coming back from war.  Well I hate to break your bubble but there is a war raging in city, town, neighborhood, your back yard.  We put up with a lot from people who are so easily offended when we pull them over for doing 60 km/hr in a school zone.  We get a mouth of sputter bad words and threats because of it.  What they do not know is just last week I had to go and tell the parents of a 7 yr old girl that her daughter was struck by a speeding car and that she is in critical condition in the hospital.  I give the ticket to the driver requesting that they reduce their speed and obey the signs, and wish them a nice day.  Again abusive back talk, insults and swearing but I ignore them and return to my car shaking my head and asking myself why I put up with this.  I smile and say, to serve my community to keep it safe.

As I pull away, I get a call from the office telling me that the member starting on the evening shift is off sick and I will have to stay around and cover for him.  I have yet had a day off in over 6 days, putting in almost 75 hours which is twice as much as an average worker doing 40 hrs a week.  I smile and say it is for the community.  It is dark now as I patrol the streets, when I notice a car running a red light.  I put my lights on and siren and go to intercept them.  They see the lights and make a run for it.  They pull away from me very fast.  Now I have the choice to go after them, but if they hit someone I would feel so bad.  They finally pulled over without incident.  As I approached the vehicle I got a strong odor of beer coming from inside the car.  There were 5 people in the car and 4 were drinking.  The driver did not have a drink as he was the designated driver for the evening.  I asked why he sped away, he answered that there was beer in the car and even though he was not drinking, he would still be in big trouble. I explained what they were doing is not right, but what he was doing was a great idea.  He got away with a ticket for running the red light and verbal warning for alcohol in the vehicle.  This was only because of a presentation that I gave at the school the other day, for the importance of a designated drive and drinking and driving.  I was glad that he got the message and let him go; I thought it could have been worse.  I smiled and said, it is part of the community effort.

The weather was warming up, as spring time approached.  I still had my down filled parka to stay warm as the temperatures could change.  I was asked to assist another detachment with a drug file they were working on.  It required surveillance for the most part of the day, but the target was to go into the city to get 100grs of cocaine.  We followed him and watched as the transaction took place.  We decided that we would take them down in our detachment area.  Once we were within the area, we decided to stop the car by boxing him in.  We safely got him pulled over, as I watched as the lead investigator got to the passenger side of the vehicle to get out our target.  I was just getting out of my car as I was now running to assist him with the arrest.  I was about 10 feet from them when I saw them fall over and a popping sound.  I got there and put the handcuffs on him and we wrestled him into the back seat of the car.  He was in pain as he was shot in his bicep and was bleeding.  We bandaged him and the others took him to the hospital and I returned to the detachment.  It was there where someone remarked by asking where are all the feathers coming from.  I noticed that it was from my coat as there was a hole just under my arm.  We figured that as they fell, the members gun discharged, went through the suspects arm, continued and went through my coat, missing me by about an inch.  We all laughed about it and said that I was lucky.  I got home late that night, and drank about 25 onces of rye.  This job was no longer being fun.

Over the next several months I was changing.  I was becoming cold and heartless.  I no longer cared about those around me.  I was shutting myself off from all those around me; my wife and children were the first, co-workers, friends, and family.  Drinking became my past time, and arguing was my primary sport.  I would make routine road stops,  and became aggressive.  Co workers would look at me with a strange look, wondering, but not asking anything.  There would be nights that I would not go back home to my family but find another place to stay, with someone I did not care about and I didn’t have to remember their birthday, or asked any questions in the morning.  The detachment Commander requested a meeting with him, and it turned into an argument and ended with me walking out slamming the door behind me.  He did not offer any help, he showed no concern no understanding, no compassion, but only wanted to deal with the growing number of complaints that we beginning to show up.

I did not like the person that I became.  I looked into the mirror and did not see the same person I once saw.  I knew then that I needed help.  I went to the force psychologist and discussed many issues, I continued on with a private psychologist that was closer to me.  It was he that I should see my family doctor to get the time off to recover as going to work and our sessions were cancelling each other out.  I got the time off and for 16 months of personal sessions and some family sessions we were able to save our marriage.  She became a part of me, closer now, and more understanding.  The arguments were getting few and far between and soon nonexistent.  The road was full of pot holes with ups and downs.  It was not easy for me, or for her, but I made it back.  Now we are celebrating our 30 wedding anniversary and she has become the best friend that I could have.  I thank her every day for not leaving me as she went through hell as much as I did.  Thank you for listening.  Tim

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