Wednesday, January 28, 2015

My Personal Battle With PTSD - #BELLLetsTalk

I'm not a celebrity and I don't have millions of followers but today I'm hoping to make a difference in someone's life by sharing my personal story about P.T.S.D. I am a civilian, I have never served in the military but in 2007 I started an online effort to boost morale of Canadian soldiers serving in Afghanistan.

 Fast forward almost eight years later and here I am.  My name is Dave Murphy and I'm a proud new father of a baby girl born on Canada Day 2014.  I have a wife who is amazing and who puts up with all my quirks & habits.  I have a decent job that gets my by and I wouldn't trade my life for anything in the world.

A few years ago however that wasn't the case and I was in a very dark place.

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 at 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.

I'm not the most religious person but growing up with parents who were Salvation Army officers and being brought up going to church every Sunday when I look back on that night I know I had an angel in the back of that ambulance with me.

I was severely injured in this attack and thus was out of commission for about three months, I had to learn how to walk all over again as I couldn't bend my left leg. For about ten years I used this an excuse to be lazy and then I met MCpl Jody Mitic. A Sniper with the Canadian Forces who lost both his legs after stepping on an IED. Hearing that he was running 5k's on prosthetic legs inspired me to get going and it was an excuse no more.  I started walking more and more and thanks in large part to Jody's inspiration managed to lose 80lbs in 2014 and still working on losing more.

For a lot of years I also 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.

Back in 2013 I don't remember the movie I was attempting to go to but a trailer came on for the movie Captain Phillips staring Tom Hanks.  This is a true story about Somalian pirates and when the trailer started I started having a major anxiety attack to the point where I could barely breathe.  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" When awaiting to be knighted into the Order I started to have major anxiety attacks. Being in a room surrounded with military high ups and the thought of having to be in front of so many people triggered panic attacks & anxiety for about the next six months after the event also.

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.

I still get the anxiety attacks but thanks to my sessions I take a deep breathe and tell myself "You're not in Ottawa, no one is going to hurt you and you're safe" and then they go away.

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 in life.

I have been trying to find the EMS & Fire Fighter who saved my life in 1994 for the past two years and keep running in circles as in 1994 EMS were privately dispatched so all the emails I've attempted to send have come back with nothing.  If some how this makes it to someone that knows any of the first responders that saved my life that night please send me and email as I would like to fly there and thank them in person.  It might be a long shot but you never know

Today is #BellLetsTalk day so I’m sharing my story of my own battle with PTSD since 1994 in hopes that if it helps ONE person reach out for help then it’s served it’s purpose.

Read "The History of Thank A Soldier" HERE

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