PTSD Provocation


On my final trip to Iqaluit in June 2005, I convinced myself I could handle Nunavut’s capital. After my initial trip, I learned not to take any tirade personally. Also, I had been on Paxil for two-and-a-half years by then. My depression had been under control and the Paxil was doing its job of keeping me emotionally balanced.

For the first six months of being back in Iqaluit, I was doing great. I felt fairly relaxed and had no major issues with other staff or residents. Then, around the beginning of December, everything went sideways. I had just finished my shift at midnight and started the short walk home. It was a walk I’ve done countless times without incident. That night would change everything.

I had just made it to the top of the steps when I spied someone on his way up the path. I assumed he was heading to the bar, so I moved to my right to let him pass. Instead, he grabbed me by the throat and pulled out a knife.

He startled me for a split second before becoming eerily calm. It felt as if someone else had taken over my body. He demanded I give him all of my money. I informed him I had no money to which he demanded it again.

This time, I was not so polite. “I told you I have no fucking money.”

He said, “I supposed you want to die.” I raised an eyebrow and dared him to go ahead. Each time he shoved the knife towards my abdomen, I felt as if I was being pushed away from the blade.

After what seemed to be an eternity, something behind me spooked my attacker. He shoved me to the ground before he took off. I stood and turned to go home.

‘What are you doing?’ I thought to myself. I then changed direction and made my way to the RCMP detachment. By the time I entered the building, I was in tears. I explained what happened to the officer at reception who let me in.

They left me in a room alone to fill out the paperwork while two officers went in search of the attacker. The longer I waited for them to come back, the more agitated I became. Being alone with my thoughts after being mugged was not a good idea. I kept replaying the scenario in my head and becoming more upset.

By the time the officer came back, I was an emotional wreck. Whatever calm I had experienced during the attack was now a distant memory. The officer advised me they could not find the guy. We discussed the incident. The only thing I could tell him was my attacker wore a ski mask so I couldn’t make out his face.

After he drove me home, I walked in to find one of my roommates still awake. She looked confused as I am usually home long before she was. I explained what happened and spent some time in her room, talking. After a half hour, I went to my room to sleep.

My brain had other ideas. My entire body was tense and nothing I did would ease it. I went to my closet, grabbed my Terry Bradshaw jersey, and pulled it over my head. Instantly, I was at ease. It still took me some time to fall sleep although it wouldn’t last long.

I don’t remember advising work what happened, but they were aware I would not be coming in the next day. Every time I put my head down to sleep, it seemed someone was calling to check up on me including my general manager.

My depression was wreaking havoc on me so I went to the hospital to see if they could provide me with any help. The doctor raised my Paxil dosage from 20mg to 40mg. He set me up to see a therapist to deal with my anxiety.

I informed my general manager of what I was doing in the off-chance I might be late coming into work. I always booked my appointments for my off hours, but things happen you can’t predict. Immediately after my mugging, the managers of the security ordered their personnel not to drive us home after worked. They rarely did as it was, but this seemed cold and heartless to me.

One of their colleagues had a knife held to her throat and then refused protection? I know the security guys had no problem making sure we arrived home safely. Unfortunately, their bosses saw things differently. The staff of the Frobisher Inn had to take money out of the till for a taxi.

After a week of waiting for cabs to take me home, I became fed up and started walking home. It was much faster than waiting for a car and I wanted to take back my confidence.

Between then and Super Bowl Sunday, I began to feel more like myself. I’m sure the higher dosage of Paxil contributed to my improved disposition. A week after the Super Bowl, everything changed. I was working the night audit shift from midnight to 8 am.

On Sundays, the security guard usually left around 1 in the morning and was on call until his replacement came on shift. Around 5 that morning, an alarm at the 6 Storey complex began to go off. In a matter of minutes, a stream of residents headed in my direction. They were demanding I help found out what was going on.

I tried to explain I worked for the hotel, not the apartment complex. I attempted calling the security guard on duty through the Walk

ie-Talkie to no avail. The more they demanded, the more agitated I became.

When they finally left, I felt emotionally drained. I was so drained, when a guest came downstairs looking for a luggage trolley, I yelled back at her. My coworker who had come in to relieve me pulled me into the back office to keep the situation from escalating any more.

After this incident, they fired me to which I responded with filing a Human Rights complaint. I was dealing with PTSD after the mugging and it came out that morning. Everyone viewed me as a raving lunatic instead of someone dealing with a mental illness.

When the apartment tenants began their demands, I had flashbacks to the night of the mugging. I felt as if I was being attacked all over again. For my case, I initially wanted not only my flights reimbursed because they wouldn’t pay my way home, I also wanted reimbursement for lost wages.

By the time the case came before a mediator, I had calmed down. I no longer wanted lost wages, but still wanted compensation for my flight. I also asked the staff go through sensitivity training for mental illness.

When the VP of Hotels objected to that, thinking they needed to do so every time there was a new hire, the mediator explained they only had to do it every 6 months. They satisfied him with that response.

We settled the case in fifteen minutes. The mediator told us it shocked her we closed the case so quickly. She never had a complaint where both parties were civil. We had no issues with each other and I wanted closure as did he. It meant I could move forward with my life.

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