Area officer pens book to help others battle PTSD

As a young boy, John Renaud always knew what he wanted to do.

“Cliché as it is, I just always wanted to be a cop,” he says.

Now, 32 years into a combined military and policing career, he can reflect on achieving his childhood goal.

But for John, it has come at a price to his mental health and his family.

John suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As with many first responders, it took him years to recognize it and begin to seek help.

John says he anticipated stress on the job — but he never expected to cope with PTSD trauma.

“The whole process started in 2014 when I was a first responder for the sudden death of an infant. It was a three-month-old girl who had died. I was first on scene for that,” he recalls.

But that was just the beginning of a string of traumas. Soon after, John dealt with the aftermath of the horrific crash outside a London, Ont. Costco store.

To cope, he started drinking more and was prone to outbursts of anger, all the while suppressing his emotions.

“I thought I had a lot of training and resilience to avoid that sort of thing, so I was very resistant to it,” he says.

It would take six years of stress on his family before his wife Tina told him he needed to act.

“And at that time, I said, ‘Something is going on. And if you can’t talk to me, you need to find someone you can talk to. We need to go forward, and this isn’t the way,’” she says.

John began therapy, and in time started to express his feelings in writing. That led to a decision to pen a novelette entitled A Troll in the House.

It tells John’s story through a character named David, who lives with a troll that represents his trauma.

The first 50 copies generated so much positive feedback the couple decided to sell the book online for a charity.

All proceeds now go to Veterans and Everyday Heroes, an organization which raises funds to buy service dogs.

“Every dollar that he’s making from this book has come to VA,” says Andrew Gough, the organization’s founder. “We’re taking those funds and helping other veterans and first responders all around Canada.”

But raising funds is just the secondary goal.

“I feel that this book will change lives, and I think it may save some lives,” Tina says.

And, in John’s case, his life has certainly improved by facing the troll in his mind head-on.

“I think I’m a lot more patient than I used to be,” he says. 

You can learn more about John’s book on the A Troll in the House website. 

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