I am the PTSD Spouse, Part 2

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I am the one who started to see glimpses of the old life.

I am the one who drove to every appointment.

I am the one who encouraged you to leave the house.

I am the one who helped you to find a new “normal”.

I am the one who was still there when you found your laughter again.

I was the one who said maybe THAT part isn’t about PTSD, maybe THAT part is something every parent feels some days.

I am the one who walked beside you while you did the hard work.

I am the one who meditates with you.

I am the one who didn’t panic on a bad day.

I am the one who sees you as you are now. A strong brave man who wasn’t afraid to admit he was hurting and faced this demon head on and chooses every day not to let it win!

By Jess

It’s never too late to say Thank You

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Thank you Daddy

I keep thinking it’s too late, but remind myself that it’s never too late to say thank you.

You don’t know me, but I am the daughter of a police officer, and reading of the loss of any officer really hit home. I know how important your job is, and can barely fathom how stressful it can be.

While my dad, like most officers, is a strong, masculine, proud man, I can see the tragedies he’s witnessed, hidden behind his blue eyes. I can see the stress lines that map his face, and the exhaustion of his mind and body when he arrives home.

My dad has missed birthdays, Christmas’ and other family gatherings because duty called, like it does for many officers. As a kid I remember being disappointed, but never angry. I was always proud of my dad that was protecting the world. My own personal superman, and I just assumed everyone viewed him that way. Nevertheless, as an adult, I now see that this is not the case.

Some people view police as power hungry, doing injustice, never being in the right place, ruining their families, delivering bad news. Officers moves are scrutinized and publicized. They are torn down by the very same people they show up to help. That’s the thing about police officers. It doesn’t matter how many times they are publicly and maliciously attacked–when you call the police, whether you like/respect them or not, they will be there to help you, your family, your friends and your neighbours in their time of need.

Rarely are officers celebrated and thanked for what they do on a daily basis, nor is it acknowledge the extreme toll their job takes on their mind, body, family and more.

So, I just wanted to say, as someone who has grown up with a behind-the-scenes view, Thank-you.

Thank-you for bravely strapping in for a roller-coaster of a day, every day, prepared to assist and protect your community as best as you can.

Thank-you for missing your sons hockey game, your wife’s birthday, or your daughters play to make sure my family can sleep soundly at night.

Thank-you for compassionately helping people through situations they’d otherwise not know how to navigate, such as death, car accidents, break-ins and assaults.

I am sorry for the horrible destruction and tragedy you see and that you are forced to valiantly carrying that burden with you wherever you go.

Whitney

Two years after graduating the sergeant came knocking on my door…..

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He did not sign up for this. He signed up for making a difference in the world. He signed up because of his deep rooted patriotism and desire to serve and protect his community and his country. When he graduated, his trainer said that he had never even drawn his gun. He’d certainly never been drawn down on! I was told we never speak of accidents or shootings. It was as though I would jinx the whole thing. I was told I didn’t need to know, because it would never happen.
Two years after graduating the sergeant came knocking on my door. By the grace of God my husband was alive but I was not prepared. I was so shocked and caught off guard.
This will be our ninth regimental funeral. Nope, we did not sign up for this.
When he was diagnosed with PTSD 18 years ago, we had no clue what that meant. Now I do. I know that going to this funeral will trigger him and we will spend the next three weeks getting him back on track. We already have an appointment made with the therapist. But this is what we do to honour those who fall. The esprit de corps and camaraderie that will fill the streets on Tuesday will remain with us and keep us going.
I’m so grateful to the people who’ve reached out to us to ask if we’re ok. We don’t have to justify our grief to them. They don’t ask us if we knew Cst. Beckett. They know it’s irrelevant. They’re all brothers and sisters and they all mourn each other equally. Hopefully this will be the last regimental funeral we will ever have to attend.

From a member of our admin team here at Families of the RCMP for PTSD Awareness

The Stigma of Suicide is Alive and Strong!

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When I started my advocacy journey, over 3 years ago, I was a naive spouse driven by pain and the need to bring PTSD out from the darkness. My hope was to save families from some of the pain mine had gone through by having an awareness and knowledge of mental health.
I was not aware police officers were dying by suicide, but soon became aware, from the few brave and courageous spouses and families who stepped forward to break the silence.
These families have deeply touched my soul and I will bring a part of them with me through life. I have shed many tears reading their emails and talking to them. I have heard their pain and felt honoured to have had their trust, so I could share their families’ experiences with the world. I hold them all very dearly. I see them as beacons of bravery and courage.
What I wasn’t prepared for was those who are adamant about keeping suicides and/or PTSD under the rug and quiet. I have been subjected to relentless, mean, rude and hateful Facebook messages and emails about our decision to share and acknowledge suicides. Some have gone as far as saying I am responsible for the deaths of members by popularizing suicides. Others have said I am disrespecting families and the policing profession. Some spouses have hunted down my personal Facebook page and sent me nasty messages saying that I am every police spouse’s worst nightmare, threatening to start a campaign against me if I don’t stop. One told me my soul is going to burn in hell.
This isn’t just limited to suicides, some are furious to have images of RCMP members and PTSD put together. One RCMP member incessantly contacts me every time I use the picture, with different quotes on it, of the RCMP member slumped over his cruiser door during the Moncton tragedy, depicting the true emotions of a police officer reacting to a very traumatic event he witnessed. She states she is a good friend of this member, he doesn’t have PTSD and I have no right to use it in reference to PTSD in anyway. She says I am humiliating him and demands I take it down.
I have had to take my personal information off the website as I have had people contact me saying they have my name and are going to track me down.
I have had senior police members from different police departments contact me and demand I remove posts.
I have not and I will not.
I am very careful not to make references to what led to their suicide other than when families have shared with me the details of their struggles. I don’t even use the word suicide in the post, just “We lost another” and what was made public.
Almost all of the posts I make about losing a police officer are because someone close to them contacts me and requests for me to do so. They feel a deep need to have them publicly honoured and acknowledged.
I feel deeply that to stay quiet about suicide, to continue to treat it as taboo or a sin, is telling those who are struggling with what is going on within them is also wrong. If we don’t open up the dialogue, and be honest, we are telling people “you need to keep your struggles hidden”. We can stop the need to post about members who went to such a dark place, the only viable option they see is to take their own life, but that takes a determination by the leaders to put in place training at all levels, from recruit to retiree, addressing how PTSD is real, can be mitigated and must be in the open to deny it power.
There are many positive messages as well, but the mean ones sting, make some of my days long and sleep does not come easily at night. I received this one positive message just last night, when I was particularly low. These are what I try my best to hold in my heart and allow them to lift me back up.

“Terry
I ran across this page while reading about the Moose Jaw Member that presumably took their own life.

I was not in the RCMP, I was with Regina Police Service from 1979 to 1990. It took me over 15 years to realize I was dealing with PTSD and it was this year that I finally began to manage it with some level of success.

I can’t thank you enough for what you are doing here. Back in my time, no one even heard of PTSD. Three of my brother officers, two of them my fellow SWAT team members took their lives during my years of service. Others have since of course and it’s all preventible and more manageable. Thank you for speaking out, standing up, and organizing. You are saving lives.

Thank you

Families of the RCMP for PTSD Awareness
Hi Terry, You have no idea how much your kind supportive words mean. Thank you so much Sir for them and your service. Lori

Terry
You are very welcome. You’ve been given a calling. An important one. Every bit as great a calling as the one given to those now needing your help. Fight the fight. Take care.”

Thank you for each and everyone of you have take time to support us and families who are hurting with a few kind words and to do what you can to bring change forward.
We will move forward because those that need us to are worth the pain brought on by the few who are scared and ignorant.
What we witness when we are honest about these tragedies is an opening of dialogue, people sharing, reaching out and connecting. Breaking the isolation that leads people down the dark path of PTSD. This openness builds a community of support and understanding, quite the opposite of what these naysayers are depicting.
There is so much work to be done around mental health and none of it can truly happen until we are honest and stop perpetuating the stigma by keeping quiet about the things we don’t want to, or are afraid to, look at.

Lori
Founder of Families of the RCMP for PTSD Awareness

From the wife of a RCMP member who suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

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Thank you for starting this support group. Change can happen with awareness and support.
I am a widow of a RCMP member who was diagnosed with PSTD. My husband struggled with this illness for 3 years before taking his own life 12 years ago this month. After his death, I wrote a letter about my experience as a spouse of a RCMP member who suffered from PSTD in hopes of helping other members and their families. I know it travelled across Canada as I had many people contact me about it. It was also given to a RCMP psychologist to help bring awareness on how PSTD affects not only members but their families as well. It saddens me to read in this FB group that things have not changed a lot over the years when it comes to supporting members and their families who are affected from PSTD.
It is hard to believe on January 26th it will be 12 years since that tragic day. The hardest part of moving forward has been watching my children grow up missing their dad in their lives (our son was 10 and our daughter was 7). My daughter has a tattoo on her arm of her father’s signature and DOB and DOD, she also wears an engraved picture of him on a necklace.
Sherry

6 February 2004

From the wife of a RCMP member who suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,
It is difficult for me to even know where to begin to inform people about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the affects it has not only on a person/member suffering from it, but the family as well. I feel obliged to tell our story, I will be gaining strength in doing so. By telling our story I may influence others to pay attention to this disease and help others deal more effectively with it. God knows it has to be addressed immediately.
As I write this letter I feel pain that no words can describe. My husband was my best friend, my soul mate and the father to my two children. I watched him suffer pain within himself, and struggle to live for the sake of myself and his children. Anyone that knew my husband would say he was a very hard working, loving, and compassionate person who brought sunshine to everyone he met whether it was a first meeting or a lifelong friendship. He wore his RCMP uniform with great pride and respected all his colleagues whether they were a Commissioner or Constable. I am telling my story in hopes that my husband and my own cries will be heard. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is life threatening and treatable. It is not a personality disorder, or a moral disorder. It is not self induced or wanted by the sufferer or their loved ones. It is a primary disease the same as cancer or any other primary disease. If you feel inclined to make judgments about the sufferer, you contribute to their suffering exactly the same as if you induced cancer cells into someone with that disease.
Before ending this letter, I want to thank all of you who did help and support my husband and I over this traumatic series of events. Many of you were angels of hope and comfort to us, and God will know and reward you. Please hear my message. Remove the unwarranted stigma from this deadly affliction…………..

I beg you.

Sherry Webb
This is only a small excerpt from Sherry’s letter to the RCMP after her husband Constable Jeff Webb lost his courageous battle to PTSD January 26th 2004.

There is an attitude out there that “He signed up for this”. No, No he did not

This week my spouse and I are preparing ourselves for the second regimental funeral in 5 months. We know in advance that this will triggering for him. We are already trying to get his family organized (like herding cats) and ready for the chaos of the day. His brother, who is EPS, cannot attend b/c he’s on course in Ottawa, which adds to his anxiety.

There is an attitude out there that “he signed up for this”. No, No he did not. He did not sign up for this. He signed up for making a difference in the world. He signed up because of his deep rooted patriotism and desire to serve and protect his community and his country. When he graduated, his trainer said that he had never even drawn his gun. He’d certainly never been drawn down on! I was told we never speak of accidents or shootings. It was as though I would jinx the whole thing. I was told I didn’t need to know, because it would never happen.

Two years after graduating the sergeant came knocking on my door. By the grace of God my husband was alive but I was not prepared. I was so shocked and caught off guard. This will be our ninth regimental funeral. Nope, we did not sign up for this.

When he was diagnosed with PTSD 18 years ago, we had no clue what that meant. Now I do. I know that going to this funeral will trigger him and we will spend the next three weeks getting him back on track. We already have an appointment made with the therapist. But this is what we do to honor those who fall. The esprit de corps and camaraderie that will fill the streets on Wednesday will remain with us and keep us going.

I’m so grateful to the people who’ve reached out to us to ask if we’re ok. We don’t have to justify our grief to them. They don’t ask us if we knew Cst. Woodall. They know it’s irrelevant. They’re all brothers and sisters and they all mourn each other equally. Hopefully this will be the last funeral regimental we will ever have to attend.

From a member of our admin team here at Families of the RCMP for PTSD Awareness

I am the PTSD spouse

I was the one shocked by the diagnosis and completely unprepared.

I was the one who saw the changes in your behavior but wasn’t made aware of PTSD’s existence so I blamed everything on myself. Was it that you didn’t love me anymore?

I was the one who couldn’t scream or even cry because I needed to be strong for my spouse and family.

I was the one who read the therapist’s diagnosis report “Is exhibiting self-defeating behaviours which can include suicide”.

I was the one who was terrified to leave you alone and would sit in the car in the drive way taking one last breath before entering my home in fear of what I might find.

I was the one who watched in disbelief as friends, colleges and even some family turned their back to us in our greatest time of need.

I was the one for whom even the smallest outings stopped or became major affairs.

I was the one who watched for the signs and did my best to prevent or support you through the triggers.

I was the one who became both mom and dad because even our regular daily activities became too much for you to handle.

I was the one who managed the doctor, therapist appointments and medication refills.

I was the one who researched and read all I could so I could stand up for you and get you the support and therapy you deserved.

I was the one who wanted so desperately to be close to you and feel your love but found the medication and your symptoms made this impossible.

I was the one who laid awake at night terrified and wondering if we would make it through another day.

I was the one who silently wondered what happened to the life we once lived, where did it go?

I was the one who saw the glimmers of hope and held onto them tightly so I could lead us forward.

I am the one who loves you with all my heart, will be there for you and my family, I will not back down from this challenge life has dealt us.

By Lori Wilson

Founder of Families of the RCMP for PTSD Awareness