THERE IS HOPE
The reality of the policing universe is that even the toughest of cops can succumb to Operational Stress Injuries (OSI). OSI has no boundaries and commissioned and non commissioned members are affected equally. I speak from experience, Over the years I have seen some of the toughest men and women that I knew in the RCMP crumble. It is the nature of the job. We were trained to investigate and use the tools of the trade, I.e. Firearms, Tasers, batons etc. Yet virtually no training in how to cope with the constant trauma that we come across during the course of our service. In my opinion, having suffered from PTSD for the past 11 years, it is very important to acknowledge that to counter the stigma we have to stop comparing experiences, people including cops are impacted differently by what they experience, so stop judging and start supporting , as we truly do not know what that person has been through.
For me, it was the constant suffering of others, during and following the traumas I had to deal with, arriving and dealing with multiple fatality motor vehicle accidents and watching the suffering of survivors. The guilt of not being able to do more to comfort them and the worse, conducting next of kin notifications. Telling the spouses and children that their spouse, father had passed away. Too many suicides, multiple murder investigations, brushes with death. They all wore down my emotional armour.
I started to experience the flashbacks, nightmares of the situations I had dealt with, getting angry at my wife and children for no reason, inability to sleep, constant memories of two of my young colleagues and friends who had taken their own lives, having lost their battle with PTSD.
Despite the stigma and my pride, I realized that I needed to seek help to save my family and I. Living in a small community, I can still remember my first visit to the psychologist, constantly looking over my shoulder to ensure that none of my colleagues saw me enter that office. Seeking help saved my family.
Following a transfer to Ottawa, I was unable to find a family physician or any other support, too stubborn to ask for assistance, I collapsed at work and was placed on medical leave. After been on medical leave for 12 months, thinking I would never get back to work, tired of numerous assessments, tired of constant change in medications and their side effects ,tired of feeling sorry for myself and most of all, tired of not being there for my family, Through all of this my invincible wife stood by me, supporting me and encouraging me in my recovery. I truly believe that I would not have recovered if it wasn’t for her patience, kindness and perceiverence. Nov/2012 I was at one of the lowest points in my life.
One afternoon while my wife was at work and my kids at school, I was desperate but knew that I needed to talk to a peer. The first internet support site that I came across was the Badge of Life, I sent an e- mail requesting help. Within 5 minutes of having sent the e-mail, I received a phone call. The caller was a retired Ottawa Police Service member. He convinced me to meet him right away at a Tim Horton’s. I met him there, he bought me tea and he spent the next 3 hours with me, mostly listening.
That kind, compassionate peer helped turn my life around. His advice to me was continue counseling, physical exercise daily especially on days when you do not want to get out of bed, focus on the positives in your life and the most difficult one for me was forgiveness.
I learnt from him that helping others heal actually speeds up your on healing
Thank you my wife and Peter Platt, you saved me.