Sunday, May 29, 2011

According to Anxiety Care webpage notes on PTSD: On the subject of hiding rather than overcoming, it has been suggested that children and adolescents , or adults who have trauma going back into early childhood, might use coping techniques like denying, or forcing themselves to ignore, the stress-generating event in PTSD. This might have been the only technique available to the child at the time, particularly if the parent/carer was abusive or indifferent so responsible for some, or all, of the trauma. The problem is, this is not a good way to deal with PTSD, as part of recovery has to be confronting the emotions and fears it generates and dealing with them, as mentioned. This might be extremely difficult if the adult or adolescent has learnt these "hiding" techniques very strongly as a child, and allows no possibility of error to enter his or her mind , as is common with young children and as may be carried into adulthood. The result will be summarily negative if the adolescent or adult cannot accept the "camels back": the building of stress over a long period, and seeks only to counter the current trauma without consideration for the depth of the problem that may be making current difficulties worse.

Okay, whoa. Have been told in the past by counselors this is what I do. I intellectualize the event or the words; I don't feel them. I don't allow myself to feel them and really don't acknowledge them. This was before I got back into police dispatching full time. When I was trying to cope with some of my childhood traumas and learn how not to repeat the mistakes so as not to mess up my marriage.

I think all of us dispatchers do this. Whether it was a trait we had in our personality arsenal before we started the job, it is certainly a coping mechanism that is developed, and fine tuned over the years. As a dispatcher you have to. Because people call you when they are frightened or hurt or angry or confused. And when it is call after call after call, you have to come up with a way to deal with them.

There is very little routine in our job. Maybe a call from an alarm company, always handled the same on our end, different outcomes in the field. But otherwise, every phone call is a different event needing a different part of your personality to handle. Every CFS for the radio dispatcher means a different or additional responsibility to handle. And when you have between three to 55 officers (or more) on your channel you are responsible for, and need to keep track of, and try to help, every CFS adds to the stress level, whether low or high priority.

But there is one big event, one big CFS, or one phone call asking for help, that tumbles down that carefully built house of cards. And no matter how hard you try to get the first level, that all important foundation, rebuilt, one end continues to fall, can't or won't support the next level. It is accepting the fact you might need help it not easy for most dispatchers. Admitting that you can't handle it without some support.

Is it fear that keeps us from finishing that foundation level? Is it not wanting to admit how much it scared you or hurt you that makes your hand shake when that all important corner is being placed?

Saturday, May 28, 2011


Check out this link.

As dispatchers we listen to trauma and drama for hours on end, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. For any dispatcher I talk to, there is usually at least two different phone calls or radio events that pops into their mind, instantly, when asked about a scary call.

Usually when people think about PTSD it is in terms of a serviceman or servicewoman returning from battle. Or an officer involved in an OIS. Little is written about the cumulative effect of witnessing and/or listening to trauma and drama when people are truly at the worst moments of their lives and you can't do very much to help and too many times as dispatchers we don't know how it ended. An officer has that benefit at least.

I think I may be exploring this phenomenon more in this blog. After all, it is here for me to express my work-related thoughts. This blog is here for me to help de-stress. And I think it is a component that needs exploring.

So the next few entries will be for me. Well, actually all the writings have been for me. But as it seems people are actually reading this, many of you may find the next few entries disturbing or off-track or even think it is the wrong place for the exploration. My words to you, don't read them. Just move on. Take me off your reading list.

I need to do this. This is how I work through my dark moments. Many psychiatrists and counselor's recommend their patients to journal. As I can type much faster than I can write, blogging has become a great outlet for me. Maybe I can come to terms with some things without the need for a PhD or Counselor or meds.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Battle Survivors

Was recently visited by a former workmate who became a very dear friend. We supported each other through the daily battles and skirmishes with the citizens, officers and brass. When one was feeling the pressure the other tried to take on a little bit more, a few extra phone calls, or power walked beside the upset co-worker.

Through years of daily wins and losses, some gained territory, losing lots of territory, like many people who have been through battles, you create a bond with those in the trenches like no other.

We both have moved on, to other work and other agencies. But as the recent visit proved, we are still very connected. It also made me realize how lucky I am in my new department and that deployment back to the former battle (work) location where I was able to forge this friendship, would be impossible.

Just needed to get this off my chest. No other purpose to this post.