Mental Health = Mental Wealth

I am a mother, police officer, runner and a wife. None of these roles define me but they do help shape who I am today.

So how does mental health play a role in my life??? Well, where do I start…?

I live a very busy life with a full time job as a police officer in a big city and two beautiful children, one of whom struggles with her own mental health. I lost my mom almost 3 years ago to cancer (still not over that as it was sudden). Because of this, I need to aware of and take care of my own mental health (or mental wealth as I call it). What truly keeps me in check is running. I NEED to run most days. It brings me a sense of calm centred-ness, and the ability to take on the day. Most runners can totally relate to what I am saying, it’s truly an addiction but in a good way. My friends call me crazy when it comes to my running, but I take that as a compliment. I do my best thinking and even some meditating while running. Not sure where I would be without it. It truly is my #SelfCare

So, let’s talk about my amazing kids. I have two beautiful girls aged 12 and 9. My 12-year-old has been diagnosed with Anxiety, OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder), which is kind of ironic since both her parents are police officers. Looking back to when she was just a baby and then into her toddler years, it all makes sense now. She had severe temper tantrums, didn’t do well in group environments, and always wanted to control play groups. At the age of 9 she threatened to kill herself. At age 10 she was diagnosed. This is something I wish no parent would ever have to go through. That and then the 8-12 month wait to see a psychiatrist to get the help she so desperately needed.

It is so hard as a mom to hear your child say through her tears, “I wish I could shut my brain off, it’s like little boxes that open up and I can’t close them.” It’s heartbreaking that I can’t make it go away. That she can’t make it go away.

Because my daughter has major issues with night time and sleeping, I really don’t get a lot of sleep. People say to me, “I don’t know how you do it” and there are days when I don’t know either. I have been in burnout mode several times, but now I am able to recognize the signs and symptoms early, so I can catch it before it gets worse. I am no good to anyone if I don’t take care of myself. This isn’t always easy as a type A personality. Type As are experts at saying, “I am fine” or “I can handle this” and convince both themselves and others at the same time. But are we, really?? And can we, actually??

Over the years our family has been able to learn some coping strategies through individual and group therapy. I have learned to fight for my eldest daughter, getting her the help she needs and deserves. I have learned through trial and error how to handle her moods and episodes. She is growing into a beautiful, smart and articulate young lady.

I cannot be there for my daughters, the rest of my family, or my job if I don’t take care of my own mental health. Although hard at times, I do everything I can to make time for myself each and every day. Whether that is a run, a workout, or reading a good book, we all need me time to practice self-care so that we can be the best Self we can be. Our mental wealth comes from looking after our mental health.

One of my all-time favourite quotes is: “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always” – Unknown

These are words to live by.

Laurie

20-year police officer

Ambassador for Children’s Mental Health of Ontario