Saturday, September 16, 2017

When the Student is Ready Pt 2

My dear fellow seekers, I am so delighted you’re joining me this day.  I hope to bring some value to your time.

My last post started my story of the Teacher appearing for the Student.  I built the foundation for a poignant epiphany.  Shall we continue?

So, on the second day, our instructor was this hyper lady.  She had quite the background & had overcome a lot.  Let’s just say she comes from a point of authority.

A quick recap.  I’m part of the Peer Support Team at my work.  This year’s training was a 2-class presented by The Counseling Team International (TCTI).  Their headquarters are in San Bernardino, Ca. 

This was the Advanced Peer Support training.  Our first day was on Dealing with Depression & Suicide Situations.  Great stuff!

It was the second day that hit close to home for me &, I feel, opened the door to the amazing things that are happening to me now. 

The subjects of the day were Difficult Debriefing, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, EMDR & Peer Support Team Wellness.  All our previous trainings were for one on one meetings.  This was getting into the major stuff.  Peer Support groups from other agencies & counties will come to a Major Event.  A Major Event would be something like 9/11 or a Columbine incident. 

In San Bernardino, CA on 12/2/15, we had such a Major Event.  During an office holiday party, fourteen co-workers were shot & killed by a man who had worked with them for years & his wife.  They later died in a hail of bullets by a confederation of Law Enforcement Personnel. 

Immediately other cities, counties & states were calling San Bernardino & offering assistance.   Some of that assistance was provided by Peer Support.  Every surviving witness at the scene, every responder, every 911 dispatcher was called in for debriefings with Peer Supporters present.

Sometimes these can be difficult & an experienced Leader needs to know how to provide a safe environment.  I’m not quite ready to sit in on a debriefing.

Then we got into PTSD.  We’ve all heard about it.  It’s the latest buzzword for a disorder that has been around as long as man’s inhumanity to man has been played out.  It has long been only thought of as a soldier’s issue.  The battlefield has long been the site of things that should not be, but are. 

But did you ever think about the scene a fireman is likely to roll up on?  How about the likelihood of what a cop is to see on his shift?  And the 911 Dispatcher who takes the call?  Makes sense doesn’t it, that they could develop a level of PTSD over a period of time. 

Then we started talking about why Peer Support was thought to be useful for the District Attorney Office.  We are not First Responders.  We were not there in that high-tension time, attempting to make sense of what was assaulting our senses.  We were not there dealing with the people during one of the worst moments of their life.

What we do is take the events, the facts of the incidents & we read them, over & over.  The Deputy District Attorneys poring over those reports, searing those incidents & images into their brain.  

The clerical  staff prepares forms, at times needing to read the file for understanding.  But they are also saturated in hearing the DDAs talking about the cases.  They have a tendency to bounce ideas off their clerical staff.

The Bureau of Investigation (my unit) is comprised of Investigators (Sworn Law Enforcement) Investigative Technicians (deal with audio/video/photos stuff) &, of course, the indispensable clerical staff.  Each of us, in our own way, is deluged in it every day.

Then there are the Victim Advocates.  These wonderful ladies (men are rare in this unit) live with the facts of the case every time there’s a hearing.  (These are the felony cases to which I’m referring.)  They sit with victims & witnesses every time.  They are enmeshed in the emotional side of it, sometimes over a period of years.

Bottom line, we are at risk for accumulation PTSD.  Some fill up sooner than others.  Some it doesn’t seem to ever bother.  Or maybe they just have better coping skills. 

That last one is where I’m at now.  I’ve been doing this for right around 20 years.  Same duties.  Same stories, same photos. 

In the beginning we would take the photographs, stick loops on the backs & hooks on a poster board.  These boards would go into court with the DDA.  Point was to be able to take a photo off the board to pass among the jurors & then return it to it place on the board.

I submerged myself in it.  There really wasn’t much that disturbed me back then.  Actually, it still doesn’t, but now I’m overflowing.  It never seems to stop.  In fact, it seems to be getting worse.

I used to feel that, in my position, I was making a difference.  And I was & still am, but not the way I thought.  I have emails, cards, letters & the spoken word where I made a difference to one person at a time.  But I feel like it’s not enough, like I’m not enough.  Like what I do should be stopping crime.  Or at least slowing it down.  And, of course, it isn’t.

The next subject was EMDR.  That’s Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing.  The theory behind EMDR is that negative life experiences have upset the biochemical balance of the brain.  EMDR is a form of accelerated information processing that may unlock the brain’s information processing system.  It’s controversial, but there are success stories.  Here’s a link to one article,, if you wish to learn more.

The end of the day we discussed Peer Support Team Wellness.  We were reminded that it’s ok to step down from the team when we feel over whelmed, we can always come back.  Reminded we must protect our own emotional health or it will reflect in how we provide Peer Support to those in need.

Oh, my, I see I have gone over yet again.  I didn’t realize this was going to go for so long.  My apologies, but I do pray you join me on Part 3.  I promise to have it wrapped up then.

Safe travels my friends & until we meet again, Be Blessed.



Sunday, September 3, 2017

When the Student is Ready

Hello!  So good to see each of you.  Have I ever told you how very special each one of you are to me?  Probably not, so let me say it here & now.  YOU are special to me.  You are the Creator of Destiny, the Intuitive Genius & the Follower of Dreams.  Thank you for sharing your time with me.

As you know by reading my previous entries, I’ve hit a bump in life.  I’ve come to understand that these bumps are our opportunity to learn & grow.  I’ve also come to learn to be grateful for these opportunities.  These are the times when the Teacher arrives.

Most of us have heard the saying, “When the Student is Ready, the Teacher will arrive”.  My experiences have been such that the arrival of the Teacher is during a speed bump time.  These are the perfect times to build the muscle memory of the Teacher’s lessons.
The lessons this time seem to be centered around the understanding that I have no control.  I have no control over the conditions that arise.  I also have had no control over my own reactions nor emotions to these conditions.  I was driving myself crazy.  I was unhappy, sullen & depressed. 

In the past year or so doors have been opening to me.  I have been learning why I live in a negative state.  I have been learning there are tools to change it around.  I started picking up these tools. 

(I don’t know about you, but I learn best by doing it real.  Role playing, training searches, these have a place & are helpful, but the I have found the muscle remembers better under real conditions.)

 Now I have the tools, had a chance to role play them & the speed bump comes up.  I’m learning Essential Oil blending recipes that are aiding me in relaxing, calming, focusing.  Meditating so my brain can learn to function in the positive.  Listening to my body, moving, stretching, strengthening, nourishing, opening up the flow of energy.
Another door that has opened & provided tools & teachers has been our Peer Support program.  About 2 years ago my office implemented the program.  I put in my memo of interest & was selected.  We attended a four-day training with The International Counseling Team.  We learned how to listen to people & when it was time to refer them to qualified help.  

Last year it was a 2-day training.  Dr. Kevin Gilmartin was the presenter. He wrote the book “Emotional Survival for Law enforcement”.  He is incredible!   

Let me give some background regarding the Peer Support program.  Peer Support programs started in Police Departments.  Police officers have one of the highest suicide rates of all careers.  Dr. Gilmartin had a background in the military, Law Enforcement & became a behavioral scientist.  His passion is to open eyes to this epidemic.  From his understanding of the mental outlook of his brothers in blue the idea of Peer Supporters was born.

From Law Enforcement, the program has spread to other First Responders, like the Fire Departments & EMTs.  Then it was realized the 911 Dispatchers also were suffering from the trauma of being First Responders.  And the Peer Support program grew.

Dr. Nancy Bohls-Penrod has spent her entire adult life married to a sheriff’s deputy.  As she lived the life & went to school her passion has become for Public Safety servants.  Her belief & foresight  have taken her to The Counseling Team International.  They help set up the Peer Support Programs in Public Safety.  

Dr. Bolhs-Penrod happens to reside in San Bernardino County.  Her work & her husband’s career  have opened doors for her.  Due to her persistence, San Bernardino County District Attorney Office has started the Peer Support Program.  It is open to every position & we have quite the varied crew.  It’s awesome to be a part of this program.  It also has become one of my tools.
This year’s training was 2-days.  At the end of the first day I had earned a certificate of completion for QPR Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Program.  It just means I have been provided guidance in asking the Question, how to possibly Persuade them to agree to seek help & then Refer them to where they can receive help. 

But it was Day 2 that opened an important door for me.

Oh my, I see I’ve run a bit long today.  I’ll have to stop here.  When I started writing this blog, I promised myself that I would keep these to between a page & a page & a half.  This one, even without the pictures, is touching page three.

My apologies for being overly long winded, but there is so much I want to share with you.

 Til next we meet, my friends, Be Blessed.