Ismet Brahimir’s Story – Sergeant, Halton Regional Police
23 years ago, my lifelong dream was fulfilled when I became a police officer. My life was perfect, or so it seemed. My first day on the road was filled with so many different emotions until I found myself called to a home with screaming family members and a lifeless infant in her mother’s arms. Throughout my career, traumatic situations such as this were just part of the job. Now add to the mix, growing up in a violent alcoholic home, and my future was all but predetermined.
It started pretty innocently. I’d have a drink here and there and a few drinks on the weekend. All harmless, or so I thought. Some would call this social drinking. It wasn’t long after when I found myself in my garage drinking by myself. You see, the only thought on my mind by this point was drinking. When could I start, did I have enough, would I need more? My wife didn’t matter, nor did my kids. Throughout these struggles, I dared not reach out and ask for help knowing full well I was an alcoholic. At the end of my drinking career, I would find myself locked in that same garage with my black Labrador retriever at my side drinking until oblivion, which usually meant 18 to 20 king cans. I would wake up the following day and the only thoughts I would have were of when was I getting that first beer in me and making plans on how to get more.
The end of my drinking career would come in September of 2011 when, after dropping my two lovely children off to school, I would find myself at the top of the staircase in my home with a rope convinced this was the only solution. The only way to stop the insanity. It was but for a split second that I was taken back to an all too familiar vision of my two children coming home from school and discovering that their father had taken his own life. I stepped back and fell to the floor in a lump of tears and I’ve been told by several long-time sober alcoholics that that was the “bottom” I was searching for.
On October 27, 2011, I would walk through the doors of Homewood Health Centre in Guelph and into their Addictions treatment program. There I sat with a mental health professional who was also a recovering alcoholic and I did something I’d never done before – I told him how I was feeling. Those words unlocked an avalanche of emotions and my healing began. It has been almost ten years since I took my last drink and I’d be lying if I told you that I wasn’t still healing, but its much easier these days.
Throughout our careers, we will have to see things that would sicken most, and we experience so many different emotions in the process. We need to make a conscious decision that caring for ourselves – both physically and mentally – is not an option any longer but more a necessity, for the sake of our families and ourselves. Our duty as police officers is not only to serve our communities but also to support each other and remember is okay to not be okay.