Mike Fillmore’s Story – Records Support, Peterborough Police
October 1, 2016 was the day my world changed forever. I woke up with extreme stomach pains, the pains remained and took approximately 2 weeks to subside. I remember the day prior being very busy at work and by the end of the day, I had a headache, a very hot face and my ears were burning. At first, I thought these pains were due to a medical issue, except when I had another high stress day, the pains returned and again took weeks to subside.
I visited my family doctor and began testing as my doctor stated he wanted to rule out all cases before calling what I was experiencing stress. Once these stomach pains would subside whenever an incident came up at work that was not normal, usually within a few hours after or by the next day, these cramps would come back and remain for days and sometimes weeks. Whenever an alarm would sound where I would need to respond to the call, I would get this large jolt of adrenaline. I’d attend on the alarm, which was for a number of different reasons, but all had the same outcome of me feeling stomach cramps. The cramps became so bad that I wouldn’t eat and started losing weight and would go home and climb into bed and stay there until the next day when I’d get up and go back to work.
I note one incident that stands out. On December 8, 2016, I had a co-worker assaulted and the accused fled and I, along with others, took pursuit chasing this person outside of the building. The person was apprehended and within a few hours, I started getting these stomach cramps. On Friday, December 9, 2016, I returned to work still with these cramps and by end of day I started experiencing light headedness, nausea, blurred vision and dizziness.
I was seeing a therapist at around this time trying to address this issue as well as my chiropractor, naturopath, acupuncturist, and massage therapist. I was trying everything I could to explain why I was having all these physical symptoms and what was causing them.
By December 26, 2016, my family physician had said all testing that I had been going for came back with negative results. On that day, he mentioned to me that it was likely stress related and I was prescribed my first of many antidepressants/anxiety medications.
December 31, 2016, I joined a gym in an effort to try everything to help address this stress. I knew that endorphins helped alleviate stress.
By February 2017, I finally noticed my stomach cramps started to subside. I started gaining weight again and noticed I was feeling more like myself again. By June, I pretty much felt like everything was going back to normal again. I continued with medication but was also changing it for either I was feeling it wasn’t working for me anymore or it was having a side effect.
By October 2017, I started feeling my stomach cramps again, but they were very mild, mild enough I was able to ignore them. When alarms would sound, I would respond as normal getting the jolt of adrenaline going to the call and after the incident, I noticed no enhancement of the stomach cramps but did notice I would get this shaky/vibrating feeling afterwards. Then, I began experiencing chest pains/tightness, a very sore neck and my vision became so blurred that it made me feel sick. I started seeing my chiropractor more regularly as well as a physiotherapist thinking it was something with my neck that was causing my vision issues.
By early December 2017, both my chiropractor and physiotherapist had said they’d exhausted everything they can do and that my neck pain was not causing my vision issues. I would notice that my neck pains would stand out more whenever the work day was more eventful or just busy. I’d seen an ophthalmologist for my vision, and I have been told there is nothing wrong with my eyes. I’d had MRI on my neck again with negative results and had a CAT scan on my head to check both my neck and eyes to see if there were any tumors or anything, again with negative results.
I met with my supervisor at the end of December 2017 and expressed to her that I was having these problems again. I mentioned to her that my doctor had offered previously to write me a note to go off from work but that I wanted to continue working but maybe try a new setting. I asked to be pulled from my court duties to work away from the setting as it was the only thing I hadn’t tried yet, by removing myself from the area where I felt all my issues the strongest. She was very amenable and said she could accommodate. On January 8, 2018, I started my first day away from court working at the police station as an alternative. My duties varied each day as I was not assigned to anything specific. I still continued to have my neck pains and blurred vision along with some dizziness but noticed after a few weeks in this new role that some days I would have no symptoms at all. My energy at the end of the day was still good and I noticed my home life improved drastically. I had more energy to help at home and not just go to bed.
Almost 5 years later, I finally get to say I’m me again. I’m still on medication and the odd time I still have anxiety, but the one big difference now is I understand what I am experiencing. Having been diagnosed with GAD and Subsyndromal PTSD, I no longer work in my original role as a Special Constable and have now taken an administrative role.
The biggest thing I regret now is having kept my issues to myself for almost 2 years before finally asking for help and sharing my experiences with others. I really felt talking to someone helped me grow and understand what I was going through. To anyone out there who is ever feeling this way, know that you’re not alone and that it is okay to ask for help.