PTSD and what I have learned about my own flavor of crazy sprinkles

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This week, I have turned over my blog to Nicole Carnegie who eloquently expressed what many of us are feeling. Without further ado, here is Nicole's message:


My husband has had 4 critical incidents in the past 3 years, so our family is very familiar with the emotions that can be experienced during these difficult times. Just a warning - it's long! As I sit here in tears after viewing the video memorial of yet another one of my husband’s brothers in blue, the second one this month actually, I am racked with emotion. My heart aches for the families that are left behind. The loss of a husband, a father, a son, a nephew, an uncle, a friend, a fellow officer. How to we even begin to express our condolences? Their loss is so immeasurable, so life changing, so final. When we, the families of police officers say goodbye to our loved ones before shift, we say things like “Stay Safe” and “I Love You.” The truth of the matter is that these brave men and women are going to work with the sole purpose of helping others and keeping the public safe. We are lending the public our husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, son and daughters so that in their time of need they have someone rushing to their sides to help them, to keep them safe, to make a horrible life changing event just a little bit less daunting to handle. The problem for us is that when they return home to their families, they are never the same person. How can an individual not be changed and affected by the constant loss of life, the abuse and neglect, and the tragedies that they witness? It is impossible. Every single experience that these officers have, every call they respond to, every tragedy they witness, every family member they console, every time they must use force, this stays with them. It does not magically go away! They must struggle to compartmentalize this pain, this trauma, this constant negativity in order to survive. For some, the pain is too great. We the families of these officers are at home eagerly awaiting the return of our loved one. We look forward to the two weekends per month that we can spend together as a family, we look forward to eating dinner together less than 50 percent of the time, we look forward to sleeping soundly at night not constantly worrying about our loved one who is out there working. I am sure that this expectation also puts pressure on our officers. Pressure to hide their pain, pressure to put on a happy face, because let’s face it – one wouldn’t generally choose to do this job if they didn’t genuinely care for others. This year has been hard. Hard for everyone. We have all made sacrifices for the collective good of society. The media has done a good job at focusing on the negative, and those that do not respect their jobs and abuse their power. They have also done a good job of telling one side of the story and showing one half of the video footage. Instead of focusing on the good, what positive things are being done during this global pandemic, all we hear is NEGATIVE press. Constant criticism, ill informed suggestions, judgement, hate. So – what does this do to our already tired and emotionally affected officers? They lose sleep, they lose self-worth, they question why they chose to do this exceedingly difficult job – and all of this while they are still expected to show up, be strong, help others, save lives. So, in closing I leave you with this: When I watched the video remembrance of both officers who have been lost recently, I felt overwhelmed with grief and empathy for the families and fellow officers affected by the loss of their loved one and brother in blue. I also felt very connected to their pain. But mainly, I felt an overwhelming sense of pride. What a beautiful display of respect, love and unconditional support shown by the members of the WPS during these exceedingly difficult times. Their professionalism and true dedication to their police family is unmeasurable. Thank-you for your service. Some of us do see you, do appreciate you, and are glad that you are only a phone call away always. Respectfully, Nicole Carnegie

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  • Pattie

How do you parent with PTSD? The answer for me is that sometimes I didn't. Sometimes even now, my husband is a single parent. And when I was first injured? I would say that for the first year and a half, he was not only a single parent to our two teenagers, but also had a third dependent in me. As a society, we talk about "in sickness and in health" but what about when your spouse is physically capable, but their brain breaks? In our situation thankfully my husband stuck by me and did his best in dealing with his own fears as a husband and father and did his best by our kids. No one knew what they were doing, there's not exactly a contingency plan for things like this, and no one got what they needed.


That first year and a half, I was in a deep depression and suicidal, I had pretty severe agoraphobia where leaving my room was often accompanied by a panic attack if I could even leave the room. I cried and slept a lot that first year, and both my memory and focus were gone. I had to re-learn how to read, couldn't speak a sentence without getting distracted, and would ask the same questions over and over because I couldn't retain the answer. And didn't realize I had already asked the question. Our kids did their best to be understanding and we had a lot of family dinners in our queen size bed because I couldn't leave our room.


I have never been the kind of parent I wanted to be, probably like most parents. I can't even imagine how much harder this would have been had I been a single parent, and if I was alone during that time I don't think I would have made it.


So how to move along the path of recovery from PTSD and still parent. Well, the thing I have in common with other parents is that we all screw up. And as I grow and learn about who I am now, I do own my mistakes and eventually I forgive myself for them. I don't brush them off, and because my kids are older, I tell them where I messed up and why that was wrong and I apologize with full sincerity. I try not to tell them why I did that because I don't want them to feel like I am making excuses. If they ask, I do tell them where my wrong thinking came from but as their Mom that is aside from the point. The point is that I made some pretty bad decisions with the best of intentions.....and despite my intentions I was so very wrong. But I can't dwell there. To dwell in that space means that I become the victim and I have the right to OWN my mistakes, learn from them and move on.


So, this has been part of my process. I know that "I did the best I could at the time with the tools I had available to me." And I can either flog myself for those regrets or I can move forward and model who I am now. I am not perfect and never will be. That I am continuing to "do my best with the tools I have" and am gaining more tools as I grow. And when that day comes when my kids need to voice their hurt, I will receive what they are saying and give them what they need on that day because this is also part of their story.



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I had posted a variation of part of my story on Facebook recently since it was Mental Health Awareness Week, so I thought it fitting to use this as my first foray into blogging.


There's been a lot of talk about how today we can "pretend " it's okay to talk about mental health but "who's listening"? The thing is that most of us were in the not listening group at one point which doesn't negate the importance of the conversation. I first went to therapy in 2007 for issues other than my PTSD which hadn't yet been diagnosed and in my first meeting I was SO turned off when my new counsellor said about one of my experiences "that hurts my heart" I mean who says that?! Over the year she taught me emotional vocabulary which frustrated the hell out of me because I wanted directions. Rules, a path. Do: A, B, then C to get the results you want. I mean, I can follow direction like a MOFO, but the touchy feely vocabulary was NOT my forte!


Lasted a year with her before our sessions were over and felt wrung out. Fast forward 10 years and BAM, full onset of PTSD blindsided me. No idea it was coming. Totally out of commission that first year, can't count the number of times I wanted to complete” for my families sake (so I told myself). Four years later I'm still here and yes its still hard some days and it is way easier MOST of the days. But it's only been in the last 4 years that I've been able to receive the words that counsellor spoke to me in 2007 because it's at this place that I am ready to receive them.

The people you talk to might not be ready for your words. They may scoff and argue, and try to "Yeah, but..." your experiences or your thoughts. However, something I have learned in this process is this. You will never know when the effect of your presence and your words will be felt, so keep showing up. Keep talking about it. You will never know your impact, so you have to keep faith that you are here and have gone through what you have for a reason. I'm not a religious person, at least not in the Christian sense. However, I have seen some of the ripple effects I have made and felt the ripple effects of those that came before me and all I can do is continue to pay it forward by talking about it and trying to create a space where people feel safe in being authentic to themselves around me. I know--its taken a long time to get to a place where I could say something like that and not cringe, but then life isn't about the destination, it's about the journey, right?

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Crisis/Suicide Hotline 24/7: 1-877-435-7170

Mobile Crisis Unit 24/7: 204-940-1781 

CMHA Service Navigation Hub:  

Call 204-775-6442 or

email hub@cmhawpg.mb.ca

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Crisis/Suicide Hotline 24/7: 1-877-435-7170

Mobile Crisis Unit 24/7: 204-940-1781 

CMHA Service Navigation Hub:  

Call 204-775-6442 or

email hub@cmhawpg.mb.ca