I joined the CF in June of 1993, did my training and was posted to Chatham, New Brunswick, where I was stationed until the base was closed in 1995. However, I was injured on Basic Training 6 weeks in so I was unable to complete this part of the journey. I took a medical release for the time being to get better as this was what I always wanted to do.. I had the surgery to fix my knee and a year and a half later, I was reposted to the detachment base in Moncton, NB where I ended up changing trades to Air Defence/Artillery. In 1997, I completed my Basic and continued on from there. In 1998, I took an educational leave but ended up returning to the forces only that summer and ended up doing an exchange with an armoured corps until 2000. My journey in the world of the army, continued when I returned to a request to join the Cadet Instructor Cadre where I am served until my retirement in 2006. In all my time with the forces, I never did deploy overseas. However due to my lengthy time in forces and the varied roles I had taken on, I had completed some of the most rigorous training known to humans. Both physically and psychologically.
I don’t think that I ever really experienced nightmares early on as a result of my training. As well, I don’t know if I ever really knew myself that well back then enough to know if I was having them anyway. After some down time between my service times on the bases, I was employed in a local funeral home. This is where I think my eventual journey to PTSD started. I never really saw myself doing this long term but needed some extra cash in my down times. In all my time in the forces, I had never really seen any dead bodies other than what was shown in our training videos or simulated casualties, so it wasn’t until this part time job that I saw my first real dead body.
Working for the funeral home, did present me with a number of vehicle crashes where bodies were strewn everywhere with blood and guts. I still can see some of these accident scenes in my mind. I also know that my PTSD as related to car crashes was never so more real until recently, when myself and my family were involved in a car crash in 2016. This is the most recent event to set my symptoms in motion. I closed my eyes at night and I replayed the accident over and over in my mind hoping something different would happen. But it didn’t.
Now going back a number of years where I guess I started to self evaluate myself and discover my PTSD, I can look back to some major trigger points in my life. My relationship with my wife (girlfriend at the time) was on rocky ground as we spent the majority of our time away from each other, as I was working in another province, but not in the military. We were struggling both to find ourselves, complete our educations and manage financially. It truly was a struggle. But to this day we didn’t give up and we are still together and married 10 years this coming New Year’s.
From the onset of my PTSD, it took me nearly 8 1/2 years before I eventually snapped. I don’t think that I ever became a violent person to those around me or did any self harm. But I was different. I had really changed! My parents could see it, my friends could see it and my work started to suffer. I still have my days where I snap and go crazy, but I am starting to realize what sets me off and trigger my symptoms. One thing I know now is that early on in my army career I could do, but can’t seem to do know that much is watch actual war movies or fight movies with blood and guts. It all depends on my mood at that moment, whether I will watch or not. I even have trouble when it comes to attending the local remembrance day services and hearing the guns. My family doesn’t really know my struggle as I have not been diagnosed with PTSD.
Not being diagnosed by my doctor is something I did; I wanted to get better and return to my unit to continue my career with no restriction and felt that if I had been diagnosed clinically that this would impede my track. I know what my triggers are and where my safe places are as well. I thank my family most of all for standing with me in my fight as well as people like PTSD buddies group and my coworkers both serving and retired that help me in my day to day life.