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PTSD: Catherine Galliford Speaks

Dec 22

I was diagnosed with ‘mild PTSD’ a number of years ago and, unfortunately, as a result of my treatment at the hands of the RCMP Health Services doctor, the PTSD became even worse.  I’m extremely surprised at the RCMP’s inability to acknowledge that harassment exists within the RCMP or that some people just break under so many stressors.  If the membership had somebody to go to for help and, quite frankly, had been given the opportunity to ask for help without judgement and without your peers and colleagues being taught that they have to look down on you for asking for help, perhaps PTSD wouldn’t be as rampant within the RCMP as it Is.  Unfortunately, many Mounties don’t even realize that they have it because it is so hard to diagnose and because we, as Mounties, don’t like to talk about our weaknesses, we don’t want to talk to our health care providers about what we’ve been through.  I experienced this when I tried to speak about my treatment at the hands of the RCMP because, after all, it is the RCMP and no one wanted to believe me.  So I just isolated and stopped talking and my PTSD continued to become worse.  I understand the meaning behind Post Traumatic Growth but it is so terrible and frightenng to be experiencing PTSD and not know how to reach out for help and to not even know who to go to.  I don’t understand why the RCMP refuses to acknowledge PTSD and to take further steps to help it’s membership.

Catherine Galliford

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From → PTSD

7 Comments
  1. Well said Catherine.

    In support

    Rolly Beaulieu

  2. Jamieson Hanlon permalink

    Bravo! Thank you for your making your presence known here, Catherine.

    DLTFGYD – you have my support and admiration always.

  3. Anonymous permalink

    Catherine, Thank you so much for speaking up. I have tears in my eyes when I say this because I don’t think you will ever know how many people you touched. You gave me and my husband strength when we had little. Thank You, sincerely Thank You.
    You opened the door to for members to speak about PTSD and it will never be closed again because of your bravery.
    Catherine and others, including Mike Webster, helped us speak out and start our journeyto the other side. My husband was in the early stages of his PTSD and suffering greatly. I saw Mike speak on TV news broadcast about the RCMP and Google your name. As I read about him I had hope that someone else knew what was going on and there was another side to this. I found Mikes phone number and asked my husband to call him before he resigned and just get someone’s input outside the RCMP. You spent almost an hour on the phone with him and gave him contacts to talk to for help. Because of that conversation we forged on. We have filed a human rights case and a judicial review. I advocated for treatment for him. I felt if nothing the RCMP was going to pay to get my husband back to me. He was referred to EMDR treatment by one of his treating doctors and it worked for him.
    During his 6 months of EMDR treatment I heard Catherine’s interview. I wanted him to speak out but he wasn’t ready. He said he didn’t think he should be the poster boy for PTSD in the RCMP. His lawyers also warned of retaliation from the RCMP.
    I couldn’t agree with you more Catherine that it the environment in the RCMP was one that members felt safe and accepted to come forward a lot of the PTSD with the RCMP could be avoided. All 3 of his treating doctors say that he is physiologically sound and that he responded well to treatment. They all suggest to the RCMP in their medical opinions the RCMP should establish mandatory debriefing or at least more training and awareness. He didn’t feel that what he went through was bad enough to get it because the RCMP didn’t treat his incidents with importance and he wasn’t aware of what the signs were. I didn’t even know what PTSD was until it all exploded. I went with him on his 6th therapist appointment. I told his Psychologist about his behavior and he explained to me about PTSD.
    He developed PTSD because he was the main investigator and the first person on a scene of an elderly gentleman whom put a rifle between his legs with the barrel in his mouth and shot his head off. This man was distraught because his wife had passed away 2 weeks earlier and didn’t want to go on living. There had been an earlier call that week to the residence, to check on him, after police received a call from his family, fearing for his safety. These responding officers didn’t remove the rifles from the home, which in turn has haunted my husband. He felt a strong sense of what mistakes made in his job could cause. He spent the day in the room with a decapitated body, with brain matter, parts of the man’s head and blood everywhere. He was responsible to photograph the entire scene and write in great detail everything he saw. The gentleman’s family then showed up at the residence. Their RCMP detachment had called them and told them that their father had taken his life. My husband then had to console them and convince them to not enter the bedroom, until victim services arrived.
    In the months leading up to this incident my husband had responded to 2 other sudden deaths, both because neighbours had complained of odors coming from apartments. Both these bodies were in advanced stages of decomposer.
    For none of these incidents was my husband offered a psychological debriefing, although it is known that seeing a dead body can cause PTSD. My husband also had to deal with the added factors of the state of decay the bodies were in and the length of time he was expected to spend with them. The only thing said to my husband from a supervisor was “Put an asterisk beside that file number because when you apply for disability in a few years that’s the one you will need to quote.”
    We did speak out months later and support and understanding was what we received. It was the start of the end to the isolation for us.
    I hope that if there is one person that is struggling or their spouse can’t figure out what is going on with them, by us speaking out they see themselves in us and get help.
    http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/episode/2012/06/18/tarnished-documentary/
    So Merry Christmas and Thank you Catherine
    You have made a difference in this world, I am sorry you had to go through hell to be able to do it.

    • Anonymous permalink

      Hi Catherine,

      Good to hear you speaking out on ptsd. PTSD and it’s associated stresses make people do odd things. The force would rather capitalize on those ‘oddities’, say something’s wrong with you and consider you an ‘accrued liability’, when you get ptsd inside the force in the first place. Keep up the good fight Cat, for yourself as your representation stands out for others who can’t fight anymore. Wish you well.

  4. Suffering permalink

    It’s worse when you are forced to suffer alone to the point you feel imprisoned by your suffering and there’s no way out

  5. Calvin Lawrence permalink

    Quote from “Mans Search for Meaning”

    When a man finds that it is his destiny to suffer, he will have to accept his destiny as his task; his single and unique task. He will have to acknowledge the fact that even in suffering he is unique and alone in the universe. No one can relieve him of his suffering or suffer in his place. His unique opportunity lies in the way in which he bears his burden.

    If suffering is avoidable, the meaningful thing to do is remove its cause, for unnecessary suffering is masochistic rather than heroic. If on the other hand, one cannot change a situation that causes his suffering he can still change his attitude.

  6. Jessica permalink

    Thank you, Catherine Galliford. I am grateful to you for having published your story, and am grateful to have read it. Thank you for continuing to speak.

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