Imagine going grocery shopping and a stroll through the produce department triggers memories of death.
The same goes for changing the oil in your vehicle.
These are triggers for Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP officer Const. Chad Grevelle who, on Bell’s Let’sTalk day Thursday, Jan. 28, in support of mental health, shared his story of overcoming Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in a powerful nine-minute YouTube video.
“I still smell certain things that I can’t help but get triggered. Like fruits, berries,” says Grevelle in the video. “Two fatal collisions where people rolled over off-road through raspberry and strawberry bushes and you go down there, see dead bodies, and all you can smell are raspberries and strawberries.”
When changing the oil in his truck, Grevelle smells oil and antifreeze and it makes him think of crash scenes and death.
“To keep that bottled up inside is poison,” said Grevelle, a 15-year decorated RCMP member who was diagnosed with PTSD in November 2013. Grevelle, three times, has been named to Alexa’s Team which honours RCMP officers’ efforts to get impaired drivers off the roadways.
PTSD is a psychological reaction that can manifest itself after a traumatic event and is diagnosed by a registered psychologist.
The video intersperses important statistics and mental health information along with Grevelle’s touching story. For example, more than half of RCMP officers experience symptoms of mental illness compared to 10 per cent of the general population.
Grevelle and colleagues never know what they will face when they report for work.
“I always thought I was one of those big tough guys that can see and do anything. Clearly, I’m not,” he said. “My brain’s the same size as everyone else’s.”
Grevelle’s family life disintegrated as a result of PTSD, and how he told himself one day he needed help. When he went to RCMP Health Services, they were 100 per cent behind the officer.
“Tell us when (to go off work),” he said. Grevelle entered a residential treatment facility, a move, he said, that saved his life.
His purpose in sharing is his story is to help other officers.
“Const. Chad Grevelle shared the story of his recovery from PTSD to help break public stigma and prevent police suicides,” wrote the Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP on its Facebook page. “Thank you so much for your courage, Chad, and bringing to light the reality of the challenges we face as law enforcement officers, and what we need to do to support each other.”