It is NOT Weak to Speak...
Mark Kennedy - I had the pleasure of actually running with him for a short time this past weekend.
Who is Mark Kennedy? He is the gentleman that ran 24 hours straight to raise $$ for First responders and their families. Specifically he ran to raise $$ to help pay to send First Responders suffering from PTSD to CAMPY MY WAY (www.campmyway.com) up by Whistler-Lillooet area. This camp is set up specifically for First Responders to go and start their healing journey, a safe place in nature where they can begin to heal and maybe if not release at least learn to manage the pain and mental scars and wounds they carry from the hard work they do every day.
Ok I know there a lots of runners out there that have run Ultras that are 24 hours or longer but it was why he was doing it and for who that caught my attention. I saw a post on a fellow runner’s social media linked to an article in the local paper talking about Mark and his goal of running 160km or 24 hours – which ever came first - and I thought – wow that is BAD ASS - someone locally is doing something to raise awareness and $$ for PTSD, I have wanted to do something but while I am a Bad Ass I don’t really want to run 24 hours so I thought I can donate and I can at least head over and run with him for a bit because I am sure he will need some moral support.
Imagine my surprise when I parked my car and got out and realized that I actually knew Mark and his wife - well actually I recognized the dog – Duke. People who are dog owners can relate, you know all the dogs names but not the dog owners names – I was like I am Jett’s owner – and his wife was oh yes hi. His wife advised he had just set out on another lap about 20 minutes earlier so I jogged out the opposite direction to meet Mark on the course and I am so glad I did – he is truly an amazing person.
Mark heard about Camp My Way and it’s founder Terrence through Linked-In. He said he reached out because he was curious and talked with Terrence about the Camp and his mission. He said it touched him and he just had to do something to help raise awareness and funds for the camp. He realized he had a gift for running and so after talking with his wife he decided that he would run around our local park that has a 10km loop for 24 hours or 160km.
While running and talking with Mark I realized that he was right it is not Weak to Speak and so here goes. I don’t know if it will help but if someone reads this and reaches out for help, or gets help for their friend/partner/family member then it will be worth it.. Most of you know that my husband is a first responder - he is a primary care paramedic and has worked in North America’s poorest area code – Vancouver’s DTES for the last 10 years.
He has PTSD, he has had it since 2016 however a year ago he had a major relapse which ended with him not being able to work since last January and culminating with him going to “Save My Life school” (I encourage anyone who loves someone with PTSD to read this –it helped me immensely) - https://www.savemylifeschoolbook.com/ , where he started to get the help he desperately needed and we had been pleading for months for. I am not going to go into too much detail of his illness and the struggles – that is his story to tell. What I will say is that he is getting help and continues to work very hard on his mental health every single day and will have to for the rest of his life.
I will Speak about my experience as his partner/wife of 22 years – it has been scary, lonely and frustrating. Frustrating for me to see him ask for help and then have the hurdles and roadblocks and policies rolled out. I know that processes need to be put in place but what I would ask as this new epidemic evolves is that the powers that be are flexible and nimble and remember that if a first responder is saying to you they are hurting - trust me on this- it is way worse than you can imagine because for them to ask means it is at crisis level and please treat it that way. Please get them in to talk to someone right away. Remove the barriers, remove the hurdles for the First Responders and the families that are supporting them.
The other frustration and please note – I know this is not about me – but there are no supports for spouses/partners/family. We are left to try and figure this out – it is terrifying to know that your partner is hurting and has considered hurting themselves and you are given no tools to support them. Friends and family try to be supportive but they don’t really understand and honestly we don't want to burden them so we navigate this quietly in the best way we can.
I have asked if there are support Groups for family members of PTSD survivors – and the answer is always the same – NOPE – it would be really nice to talk to others who are going through this – I have lots of friends and family but there is only so much I am going to share with them and I don’t want to cause them more worry. I suppose I could try and set up a support group but honestly between everything else I just don’t have the energy. Now if I feel this way, can you imagine how someone with PTSD feels?
The roadblocks and hurdles that have to be removed, at times is has felt like we are climbing a mountain and there have been moments where it has felt just too hard – again if I am feeling like imagine someone who is living in pain and anguish every day trying to navigate this. Please remove the hurdles, stop making it so hard- it should not be this hard to help people who have given their lives to protecting and savings others.
First Responders need more support groups – I am aware of 1 in GVRD for him to go to and there are currently none for their partners/families or at least I have been unable to find one. They need on-going care management plans not just for the acute phase but when they are in remission. First Responders need to have access to confidential unlimited counselling and if they falter, help needs to be immediate- make it accessible and timely. Finally some sort of fund needs to be set up for retraining as an option just in case the trauma is so deep that they are unable to return to the job they love.
So how do we get there well for starters – Mark’s go fund me page is still up – you can donate
And this is where it gets Bad Ass – Mark said this was a test and that maybe this could become an annual event. He mentioned something like having an Ultra that had 6 hour, 12 hour, 24 hour options with solo or relay options. He mentioned that there was interest from some corporate sponsors.
I told him I thought it was a great idea and I meant it – so for me if he decides to go forward I am going to help him – I mean How Bad Ass would that be?
Oh and the run streak??? Well 2 more weeks and I will have hit the year mark and I have committed to running at least another 30 after that – who knows when I will stop – just not yet.
Thanks for reading