Have you ever been so scared that you think you can’t help someone that you care about? To be so scared that your Dad was going to hurt himself and there was nothing I could do? Well I was that scared in 2011, I have not shared this experience with many people for the fear that they would judge me and my family or feel that we were somehow different. I have learned that many families unfortunately go through the same experiences as we have. I would like to share our experiences in hope that it helps someone else.
My Dad had a good reputation and was always respected in his line of duty and always looked out for his family and friends. In 2005 after 15 years in the Airforce and many tours of duty, he decided to join the RCMP so he would be able to spend more time with us instead of traveling all the time. After a few years we started to notice he had changed and became more moody and detached from the family. His moods became more depressed and he was not the same person as before.
To make matters worse my Mom was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 and all I could think was great first my Dad is depressed and moody and now no Mom for a year. I was thinking we are done and my family is falling apart. I was really afraid that I was going to come home to find my Dad dead. I did my best and stayed by my dad and told him everything was going to be fine and were going to make it through this difficult journey together. My Dad became very withdrawn and spent alot of his time at home alone and did not want to be with us. He was no longer able to go out in crowded and noisy places because he was afraid of those places.
Shortly after my Mom departed my Dad sat down with me and explained that he had been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. My Dad told me that he had seen many bad things in both the military and the RCMP and that these events had affected how his body was dealing with things. He had dealt with a number or terrible events from suicides to car accidents and deaths of all ages including young children. Part of his job is to inform families when a member has died, this was very hard for him to do but he did what he needed to for his job.
After my Dad was diagnosed with PTSD he began to see a therapist who was helping him to get better. He also began to attend the OSI or Operational Stress Injury Clinic for help. They help him to realize that his injury is a normal reaction to stressful situations. I began to see improvements in my Dad but the fear was always there that he was going to hurt himself one day.
After my Mom returned home things were not all happy and smiley. We were all together again but we were not a real family. My parents fought often and the entire family became very sad. Both my Mom and my Dad became very depressed and talked about splitting up and divorcing. These days were not happy ones at our house.
My turning point is not a one moment flash that I had one day. My turning point has happened over the past four years as my family has continued our journey dealing with my Dad’s injury. I have seen many improvements in my Dad and our family. I see how to enjoy a happy moment with my family and on my own. I have learned how to deal with the not so good moments also and am providing my Dad with all the support that I can. I like to see him smiling and enjoying his day. I am still fearful that he may hurt himself but as each day passes I feel better that he will not hurt himself. I want to see him grow old happily and to enjoy all the time together that we can. These are experiences that no kid should ever have to go through, it still affects me in a way to this day and it always will. No matter what but it’s my family and friends that keep me going every day and the reason I go out each morning and face the day. I want to be there to help my family and friends.
I hope to follow in my Dad’s footsteps one day and become a police officer. I know it is a very stressful occupation and the things I will have to deal with are not pleasant but with what I have seen and learned with my Dad I think I will be better prepared to deal with those things.
One big thing I can say is you don’t give up on your family be there for them and let them be there for you. When everything seems lost there is always a light at the end of the tunnel and tomorrow is a brand new day to start happy!