Adam Carter: Cold Calling Badge of Life Canada

My name is Adam Carter, I started his policing career with the Niagara Regional Police Service in 1998 and spent my first five years working uniform patrol in 4 different divisions, where I also served as a Bicycle Patrol Officer. I then spent 13 years working out of Traffic Services as a Breath Technician, Radar/Lidar Instructor-Trainer, Speed Management Coordinator and Collision Reconstructionist.

My policing career has “gifted” me with 2 departmental collisions during my first month on the job (I was passenger in both), a shooting incident in my 4th year, a time lost duty injury as a result of an accused trying to take my firearm, and nearly 600 collision investigations (half of which were fatal or life threatening) … these are but some of the ingredients for my “Operational Stress Injury” (OSI) receipt.

In 2015 I was on-call for over 28 weeks and attended 76% of the unit’s crash investigations. The start of 2016 was a milestone anniversary for my father’s death and saw the early passing of my mother-in-law, which brought up a LOT of memories of my father. Compounding my personal stressors were my ancillary duties as a Team Leader, Unit Training Officer, and the ever stressful process of competing for promotion. On July 20th, 2016 after having worked a 22 hours the day before, my body had decided it had enough and shut down on me. Being a “Phys Ed” major, a varsity athlete with a national bronze medal, an internationally licensed soccer coach, and a lifelong cyclist this was the last thing I ever expected!

BUT, the combination of personal stressors, sanctuary trauma, repetitive exposures, and perceived injustice all lead to; memory loss, anxiety and panic attacks, temporary vision loss, uncontrollable crying, bloodied inconstancy, and much more. With no member wellness program in place, or guidance on what was happening to me, I made a “cold call” to BADGE OF LIFE CANADA, and BILL RUSK called me back almost immediately! BILL (coincidently my father’s name), spent nearly 3 hours on the phone with me normalizing my experience, sharing his journey, and providing me with the professional resources to help me understand what I was experiencing and get me back to adaptive functioning.

After nearly 3 months away from work, and against my psychologist’s professional recommendation I attempted to return to light duties. This was short lived and a scenario which played out two more times before finally returned to full-time duties in March 2017.

During my time in the detective office, I had ballooned to 220 lbs, and at only 5’9” that made me obese! Basically, I had stopped working out after my shooting incident in 2003, stopped playing competitive soccer by 35, and abandoned my love for cycling in 2008 because it was interfering with my “job”. So after a six-year cycling hiatus, a close friend and fellow recruit got me back on the two-wheeled horse. I sporadically returned to cycling in 2015 to prepare for the Canadian Police Memorial Ride to Remember (R2R). However, I used “staffing issues” as an excuse and put “my career” before my own wellness and did NOT join the R2R that year. In 2016 I was only 1800kms into my cycling season by the third week of September, but my brother in blue supported me as I pedalled my way through a very emotional 5 days, and 700+ km R2R ride.

Since going off work with my OSI in July 2016, I have become obsessed with wanting to know the “why and how” it happened to me. This has led to me wanting to know how I can prevent this from happening to my colleagues and my friends. I do not want any of them to go through what I had experienced. So, I have educated myself and have become a voice for member wellness.

Life has a tendency to “keeping us honest” and in 2017 I missed the R2R because of a reoccurring injury to my back that was a result of my departmental collisions. However, because of my self-education and awareness I used this setback to fuel my resilience.

Since my OSI, I have logged over 30,000 kms on the bicycle, dropped 30 lbs, and used my love of cycling to help spread the word about wellness. I am currently coaching my service’s Cops for Cancer Team and annually riding the R2R. In 2019 I also rode in the Big Move Cancer Ride with Team Meridian Credit Union, and looking forward to riding with my Deputy Chief in the upcoming Peloton Ride on September 14th in support of BADGE OF LIFE CANADA and “Mental Health and Suicide Awareness”.

My service now has a Member Wellness Program, and I proud to be a part of both our Crisis Response Team and Peer Support Team, giving back to my colleagues and our future guardians. I completed my certificate in Critical Incident Stress Management from the University of Baltimore Maryland County, my certificate of Specialized Training in Emergency Services with the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, I am a Certified Trauma Responder with the Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists. I look forward to sharing my knowledge and paying it forward during the last quarter of my career.

Safe Keeping, Coach Carter #StrengthInNumbers

 

http://badgeoflifecanada.org/

Twitter: @badgelifecanada
Instagram: @badgeoflifecanada

– Adam Carter

Tyler Andrew: Today

Today I realized its September…. I’ve now been off work, a career I love… for two years… twenty four months since I’ve been a part of a community I love to serve. This time last year… I was hospitalized. My mental health team was trying to find the right diet of pills, therapy and rest. If I’m being honest my memory of last year isn’t fantastic… perhaps for the best. Today I reflect, on these past two years and I feel shame, I feel guilt, regret and embarrassment. Most of all however I feel like a failure. BUT… today… I am here. Something I didn’t believe would happen just a year ago…PTSD has created more challenges than I can describe…BUT. Today…I am here… I am alive, I smile, I laugh, and I belly laugh. (Emphasis on belly) Today I have family and friends who I love, who I value, and who each and every single day I am grateful for… Today… and this is important…my beard is waaaaay better than it was two years ago… Today I am a father, I have a best friend, and someone who inspires me each and every day. Most of all however I have Today. I am grateful… for Today…

To anyone out there who struggles…You have Today… and in those moments you can’t see tomorrow… focus on breakfast…then just make it to lunch…then to dinner…and before you know it… tomorrow has become today. And once you can begin seeing tomorrow again…you become able to look from the rearview mirror to the road ahead… will there be challenges? Potholes? Detours? Absolutely… but your yesterday, the road you’ve left behind you has better prepared you for the road ahead… Today… just focus on Today. Today I am grateful for twenty four months of yesterday’s… and for years before that… because they have prepared me for my tomorrows…and I fully plan on putting the pedal to the floor and sending it.

– Tyler Andrew

Michael: Better Together with Trillium Health Partners

After years of suffering from anxiety and depression, Michael had a severe panic attack that temporarily blinded him. He reached out for help, and our hospital reached back with treatment through our Mental Health Urgent Response Service. Watch how his treatment helped Michael learn new ways of caring for himself so he was able to enjoy life again.

 

Find the original video here

Philip Sheldon: There is Strength in Numbers

Peloton: In a road bicycle race, the peloton (from French, originally meaning ‘platoon’) is the main group or pack of riders. Riders in a group save energy by riding close (drafting or slipstreaming) near (particularly behind) other riders.

To define the word, it exemplifies my life over the last 4 years. Before this time, mental illness was something that wasn’t part of my life, nor did I think it ever would be. I was adding to the stigma without giving it a second thought.

Since July 2015, my eyes have been opened, and the struggles I thought were my own, belong to so many men and women out there. It is most prevalent in the first responder world. Expecting to put on you armour and go into work, not knowing the horrors you will face every day, and then expecting to go home and act as if it is normal, is anything but. We are told that we are not tough enough for the job, if you show any sign of weakness or emotion in front of others.

My peloton now is Badge of Life Canada. They have shown me that my life matters and there are ways to defeat the horrors that haunt me. They have been my main group of riders, helping me and making me more streamline in my thinking and my physical capabilities. When another one of our fellow brothers or sisters, are starting to lag, we are there to help them out, pick them up, reserve energy for another day and to keep battling forward.

There is strength in numbers and no one needs to fight alone.

 

http://badgeoflifecanada.org/

Twitter: @badgelifecanada
Instagram: @badgeoflifecanada

– Philip Sheldon S.C., Fundraising Co-ordinator, Badge of Life Canada; Program Shepherd, Badge of Life Canada

Constable Pat Swan: His Journey to Personal Wellness

I went to bed early. I went into my bag and I pulled out the anti-depressants. I had about 150 of them, and after 4 or 5 hours my body started convulsing...

 

Find the original video here

[ It's worth clicking through to view the comments ]

David Blaser: Triumph over Anxiety & Depression

My heart began racing and pounding. I had the feeling that I was going to die and I was shaking. My chest hurt. I felt dizzy and that I was out of control. The fear was excruciating. That was 36 years ago. My first anxiety attack.

My name is David Blaser. I’m a successful Executive Coach and I have successfully triumphed over anxiety and depression. I’m proud to be associated with the Peloton Ride and their efforts to raise funds to support men’s mental health initiatives and suicide awareness.

My first experience with anxiety came at a time of life transition, from university to the world of work. Many men experience anxiety and depression at the various transition periods of life: education to work, married to divorced, prosperity to scarcity. I wasn’t aware of the anxiety that was building within and the anxiety attack it would produce. Awareness is my now my ally. What differentiates men from people who experience anxiety and depression is their ability to isolate.

I was fortunate to be supported by family and friends who cared. Here’s my formula to help move through anxiety and depression.

  • See a doctor to ensure you are physically okay
  • Seek the help of a professional who knows how to treat anxiety and depression with experience in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • Medication can help
  • Despite being scary, know that anxiety attacks are not life threatening
  • Breathe
  • Allow time to pass, distract yourself while experiencing anxiety. Your body will take care of the rest.

You, too, can triumph over anxiety and depression.

See you at The Peloton Ride – One Great Ride, Just like Life.

– David Blaser, supporter of the Kintsugi Alliance for Men’s Mental Health

Derry Bunting: Why Men’s Mental Health?

When a successful, prominent and well-known industry leader in the cycling community died from suicide unexpectedly last year, it shocked and surprised most everyone who knew him. Almost no one had any idea of his challenges and deep struggles with mental health. He spoke to few people about what he was facing and had trouble getting mental health support that worked for him. His journey is an illustration of the endemic challenges specific to Men’s Mental Health.


The Pressures of Being a Man

A report on depression and mental illness by the Canadian Mental Health Association rightly stresses that in a society that celebrates masculine qualities, there is little patience for any show of weakness in men (CMHA, 2010). From a very early age, boys are told to hold back their tears, and men are conditioned to hide their emotions. Men are expected to be able to stoically deal with life’s pressures, be tough, financially successful, and the slightest show vulnerability is seen as a weakness.

Many people, men and women both, experience extreme stress, feelings of failure, depression, mental health struggles and suicide ideation all the while appearing healthy, happy and being highly successful in the eyes of everyone around them.

For many men, self-identity is defined by success in work and career, and for many, lack of, or decline in success, and potential loss of that work and career is seen as a potential loss of who they identify themselves to be. Potential for job loss through normal circumstances such as downsizing, consolidation, etc. is always there and when these events occur, they themselves can be triggers for extreme stress, feelings of failure, depression, declining mental health and possible suicide.

For most men, reaching out for help when experiencing extreme stress, feelings of failure, depression, mental health difficulty and suicide ideation, is contrary to what they have been societally conditioned to do as a man. When they do consider reaching out for help, they struggle with what family and friends will think, and what the impact will be if their employer becomes aware. In management, this can be a career ending event.

In Canada, in 2011, there were 3728 suicides. 2781 of these suicides were male (Statistics Canada, 2014).

Men aged 40-60 have the highest number of suicides in Canada (Statistics Canada, 2014).

Women attempt suicide more often than men BUT men die by suicide three times more often than women (Statistics Canada, 2014).

Middle aged men die by suicide more often than any other group and it is these realities that need to be addressed.

In memory of the ones we have lost to suicide, in the hope that we can help all men who may experience struggles with mental health and suicide ideation, we have created a cycling event aimed at raising awareness of men’s mental health issues, reducing the stigma around suicide and encouraging open discussion.

Join Us. One Great Ride. Just Like Life

 

Register for the Peloton Ride 2019

 

– Derry Bunting, supporter of the Kintsugi Alliance for Men’s Mental Health

Kevin Wallace: The World’s Toughest Ride – LIFE.

I can remember the exact moment I experienced real sorrow. I was nine years old and my father had succumbed to a brain aneurysm after spending thirty days in a coma.

Two weeks previous to his death I had tried out for the AAA Mississauga Reps Hockey and made the team. I shared the news with my dad while he was in a comatose state and he squeezed my hand. Two weeks later, I was told he had passed away. I remember the moment vividly. I was pulling my hockey equipment from the trunk of the car and I had this ominous feeling of dark clouds closing in on me. What was this new feeling? I felt immense sorrow and I still remember that feeling forty years later just like it happened yesterday. That was the moment I was introduced to the darker side of life. Within a year, my eighteen-year-old brother had overdosed on drugs – likely due to the pain he was trying to manage as well. My sister had moved to Niagara for school and my Mom was forced with the choice of being strong and moving forward or surrendering to the despair she must have been experiencing at that point. Her decision to stay strong played a large role in my life and helped me overcome the sudden bomb that was dropped on what I remember as a loving, family unit.

I really began wondering about school, sports, friends, television and even life. I was educated in a Catholic school and I was very disillusioned with the concept of being all loving and all good. Fortunately, I intuitively had enough resolve or naivety at that young age to see the bright side. Despite losing a large percentage of my family young, I still trusted life and believed there were enough people around me that cared about me and that gave me a reason to live. A strong social network appeared giving me a sense of family, but I needed something real and purposeful to do since all the other aspects of life seemed trivial, empty and hollow. At eighteen, I made a decision to open a business and Gears Bike Shop was born.

Going into a retail business was a great distraction from loss and sadness, while the everyday challenges also gave me a great sense of purpose. I didn’t realize it at the time, but by opening Gears I now realize I was searching to establish a new family with the community to replace the loss I had suffered from the outside forces that had struck mine.

Since Gears opened in 1988, we’ve been fortunate to create many experiences within the community that have yielded great things. We raised close to $5 million through events like the 24-Hour Spin and Race Across America. A Women’s Health Care Center was established at Trillium Hospital in honour of my mother, Betty Wallace, whom we lost to breast cancer when I was twenty-three. Many founding charity rides were established – all of which were inspired by a group of cycling friends who all went on to achieve great things for a number of charities.

Today, along with the Humberview Group and Nancy Field of FieldWork Communications, Gears is once again committed to investing our passion and energy into developing a cycling event in support of men’s mental health to honour friends and colleagues who were unable to come out of the dark clouds and succumbed to pain and sorrow greater than most can imagine.

In conjunction with the event, we developed this site to create a conversation about mental health issues and provide hope, light and support as well as raise funds. We’ll be showcasing mental health concerns, initiatives, testimonials, coping strategies and more in the coming months. I will be sharing a few of my stories, the highs and lows of my journey, and my own personal struggle with social anxiety – so stay tuned.

Join us for “One Great Ride” – the Peloton Ride on Saturday, Sept 14th at the Milton Velodrome.

 

Click Here To Register

 

– Kevin Wallace, Founder & Co-Owner Gears Bicycle Shops and Co-Founder of the Peloton Ride for Men’s Mental Health