Wednesday, January 7, 2015

My Battle With PTSD

A few days ago I picked up a copy of the Calgary Metro newspaper and read about a student from Calgary Brett Rothery who wanted to do something to help spread awareness about Mental Health issues and raise money for the Canadian Mental Health Association.    As many are aware BELL has it's "Let's Talk" campaign and although it does great things this effort wasn't started by a corporate giant able to afford to pay for a "Promoted Tweet".  This was a simple mission and movement that started on Twitter and has taken the country by storm.

A lot of people have tweeted about it and although most positive some people call it a "Copy Cat" initiative but really can we really have too many campaigns to get people talking that need help? I don't think so

I had a conversation via Twitter with the founder and I had a feeling he was being over whelmed by all the attention it was getting.  I told him to forget about the people hiding behind keyboards who have negative things to say as they're just looking to get a rise out of you.  My conversation with him and reading through all the tweets & stories on the #CHHSLETSTALK hash tag inspired me to write about what happened to me in 1994.

In 1994 I was walking home from work in Ottawa, Ontario and was approached by three Somalians. They started yelling derogatory remarks at me which I ignored and kept walking. They continued to follow me and one of them came me and at the time I thought he was throwing punches so I attempted to defend myself. At that time two of his friends jumped in and I was being bombarded with what I thought were punches.

They ran off and I started to walk away shaken by what happened but thankful to not feel too much pain. I put my hand down on my leg and looked at my hand to see blood dripping off it. At that point I realized I had been stabbed and passed out on the sidewalk.

Thankfully an off duty fire fighter & EMS were driving by and jumped out to see if I was ok. I later found out I had been knifed thirteen times in total. The two worse were on my leg and in fact the fireman held the muscle together in my leg until an ambulance arrived. If he hadn’t of done that I would have lost my leg and would be typing this from a wheel chair.

I had nine stab wounds on my back one of which punctured my lung and another missed by heart by half an inch.

I lay there in the parking lot of the Bayshore Shopping Centre mall not really knowing what was going on just remember seeing a crowd of people around me and one lady who held my hand the whole time. She came in the ambulance with us and later when I came to at the hospital I asked where the lady was that was in the ambulance and no one knew what I was talking about.

For a lot of years I carried what happened to me around with me and never talked to anyone about it, just let it sit there. A few times when I was out in public and I’d see someone that looked to be of Somali decent I would start to have anxiety attacks and one time I even had to get off a Toronto subway train as a group of ten of them got on. This is not something I’m proud of but also something you can’t help when something like this happens to you.

I thought I was fine and didn't think I needed help for it but two years ago I finally had enough and it was through talking with a soldier about how he was going through the same situation when he would be driving down the road here in Canada and see an old beat up white pickup truck he would go another route or pull off the road.

I have been running various efforts to support soldiers since 2007 and have met a lot of our men and women who serve our country both online and in person. I have spent many nights on the phone until late hours of the morning just talking to them as they know they can talk to me in confidence and not worry about me posting names or any information publicly on here or Facebook.

I've received the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal, Knighted Into The Order Of St. George & a member of Avenue Magazines Top 40 Under 40 however there's times before I got help I would think to myself "I wonder if these people knew some of the thoughts I have had as a result of what happened to me if they'd take the awards back"

I honestly wish I had of gone to talk to someone sooner but asking for help is a tough thing to do when you might feel asking for help is a sign of weakness but I’m glad I did.

When I moved in to my new building last year my wife was about seven months pregnant and couldn't help with any of the moving. Our new neighbor who is a Somali saw me doing all the work myself and came over to me to offer his assistance. A few years ago I’m not sure how I would have reacted but I’m very happy to see we've actually become good friends.

For a lot of years I tried to figure why I was spared that night in Ottawa? At first I thought it was to run efforts in support of our men & women in uniform or to try and make a difference in the world.  It became VERY CLEAR why I wasn't killed by the events in Ottawa on July 1st, 2014 when me and my wife had our first child on Canada Day.  Every time I look at her I'm thankful for my second chance.

I saw what the kids of a Calgary High school were doing with #CHHSLetsTalk and decided to do a write up about my own personal battle with a form of mental illness in hopes it might help someone get help dealing with anything similar.

Update : As of today January 8th a coworker of mine who was inspired by what I wrote has pledged to donate $0.25 to the Canadian Mental Health Association for every RT this post gets.  (UP to a maximum of $1000)

If you'd like to help you can click the link below and click RT

Dave Murphy, Calgary, AB

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