Hey Travis , I’ve not done this before so I’ll give it my best .. here goes..
Go have a drink with your crew , “ don’t be a pussy “ .. Have another drink , don’t be a pussy. PTSD is just another word for coward or pussy, have a whisky , shove those feelings away and get ready for your next shift... When I started on the job 22 years ago that was the mantra of supervisors and Senior Management. PTSD was a dirty word that was verboten. I started my career in Oct of 2001 with Federal Corrections in Canada. In Canada we are fully sworn Peace Officers which I know differs from some places. There was no mention of PTSD in the academy, there was no mention of mental well being. I can remember being told it was ok to come to work hungover “ steaming one off” rather than seek any psych services. I can recall in the early stages of when I started to change probably 4 or 5 years in, it was small subtle things. Mainly depression or anger that seemed to be the only feelings I really felt. I was losing my ability to connect with people not on the job. By year 8, compartmentalize was the mantra , just shove it down and keep going . I had no motivation to go to the gym, to go out , to see family , friends , I wanted to come home sleep and watch TV, sit in my lazy boy. I just found the world to be grey, I didn’t get joy out of work or any hobbies, I was angry all the time. I didn’t know at that point that was experiencing PTSD, I was locked into a cycle. Around 2012 I attended The “ Emotional Survival For Law Enforcement “ seminar , hosted by Dr Kevin Gilmartin. I truly realized that day I was dealing with PTSD( but que denial). My wife said it was like he had followed me around for a week when he started listing symptoms. But being a Gen X old school , ptsd was still something other people had , not me , I was not at a place where I was strong ( or willing) enough to say I need help , in hindsight I wish I had ... in my warped mind PTSD was just some psych services bull shit that lazy Officers used to get time off . My mind was sick, I knew by the seminar I should get help but I also did not want to admit to myself I needed help . Like the proverbial devil and angel on each shoulder. From 2012 to 2018.. I just felt like I was grinding to get through the day or the shift, my brain was overloaded with images, memories and feelings that I was trying to ignore . I was engaging in very self destructive behaviour at work and it seemed doing everything I could to ruin my personal life. I was putting my self in dangerous situations and creating some of those situations by being a “ cowboy “ and it was affecting co-workers . At home alone or on work commutes I would think about suicide. Sometimes that just seemed like the best option, it’s not , it never is. I was fighting with supervisors, co workers, family. I would randomly start crying or feel like crying, if not that, then I was just angry as thats how I could feel. At that point I had a true come to Jesus moment with myself.. I realized I needed help and the workman’s compensation with our province passed legislation recognizing PTSD as a injury. So I filed my papers went through testing, got diagnosed and started treatment. I was diagnosed with PTSD and major depressive disorder and put on meds. The meds helped me sleep something I had not done in years .. but put weight on me, the treatment was exhausting. I would go 3-4 times a week. I was in treatment for 9 months , off work for almost a year. I was on meds 2 years. The treatment was life saving and relationship saving. It’s hard , no doubt about it, but it got me to a healthy point and brought me my life back. I’m not numb anymore , I learned how not compartmentalize but to file the memory away properly to deal with the feelings. It will be 5 years this summer since treatment, do I still have issues with some PTSD effects , of course, however , it’s so much better. I want to tell you your not alone, your not weak, your strong so much stronger than you think. The journey starts with the first step, take that step.