I am a first responder. I have 20 years in firefighting and rescue related services. During my career as fire and rescue I worked in the oilfields of Alberta and BC, as an instructor for rescue, with NSDNR on their helitack crew, and as a volunteer in my community. My doctor and therapist wanted me to retire from firefighting and work in oil and gas.
I am also a current ski patroller. I volunteer and work casual at Ski Wentworth during my days off.
I served in the Army Reserve from 1997 to 2000. I wanted to begin a career in the infantry and wanted to go Reg Force. I deployed on Ope Persistence, the recovery of SwissAir flight 111 in September 1998.
I guess my trauma was underneath. Knew something was there, but signed off on the manifestations as one offs or me just misbehaving. When I began to seek help I really saw just how badly things were for me, and how I had also been just barely holding things together personally. I realized, not quickly, how much I had worried friends and family. My marriage ended. Too much had happened to salvage it. I was angry. Very angry. I’d spend days in the house. I’d drink to excess, never having learned to do it socially. And when I truly started turning the corner I didn’t recognize what was behind me, and so I left the marriage.
I use cannabis daily. I cannot believe how much it has helped me. I was somewhat of a prohibitionist. I didn’t think it belonged anywhere near the workplace, and I didn’t really like being around it in social settings. A friend who also suffers PTSD inspired me in watching his path. After I began the work on healing, I tried cannabis for the first time since I was 23 and I found relief. In the trial and error of finding a new path with medications, I struggled until I found the GAFF. Brothers and sisters in the GAFF have helped me in my medicating tremendously and I have learned so much about cannabis, and also about the love that we have for one another that I am nearly constantly amazed.
Massage therapy really helps. I want to attempt float. I also ski as much as possible, I play disc golf, I bicycle and have a fat bike.
I have been to four gatherings now at Piper’s Glen and it has changed my life. The love that is present in that space is so utterly apparent and strong that it’s palpable when you arrive. My smile has always widened when I get to Cape Breton, I have family close to Piper’s, but it gets even bigger when I hit the Mount Borden Road, and grows further when I see my new tribe. So much that my dream has become to give back because I have gained so much, and so I am purchasing a property which the GAFF can visit and use for loads of fun and healing.
My New Purpose
My work with the Ski patrol has lead me down the path to become a CISM peer in case any patrollers require assistance. I believe strongly in this and am happy to take part. It’s also been a part of my healing to learn how to provide others with a caring ear.
Still unsure how public I want to be. I have lingering feelings of inadequacy related to my service and fear judgement from others. So there’s that. The gaff has helped me so much with this, but opening to a wider audience: I need some support with.