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?

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