Ryan Bandstra

I am nominating PC Ryan Bandstra for the Police Hero award because his actions saved my life and put me on the path of healing. Before I can describe his act of heroism, I need to give some background information. I am 33 years old and have been battling mental illness since I was about 9 years old...

I was diagnosed with depression when I was 12 and by the age of 21, after 2 suicide attempts, I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, Post Traumatic Disorder, and Bipolar disorder II rapid cycling. By 2008, I was very ill and cycling in and out of hospital.
Given my history of police regularly being called to attend when I was unwell, I was very distrustful of them as a whole. I had panic attacks at any sight of them, even if it was just a cruiser passing by. I did not trust police at all, feared them, and always felt they would hurt me. From 2008 to the end of 2017, I gained control of my symptoms. My need for police diminished. 

Unfortunately, at the end of 2017, I started to relapse. In June of 2018, I became so fearful of police, I started defending myself with a knife when they showed up to my apartment. By July of 2018, I was at the lowest point I had ever been in my life. I did not know who I was anymore or how to pull myself out of the hole I was in.

I share all of this because it shows the significance of what PC Ryan Bandstra did for me.

I am not sure of the exact date that I had my first encounter with PC Ryan Bandstra, but the first time I remember was mid-summer of 2018. I had gotten myself in a cycle of self-injury and overdosing. On this particular night, I had overdosed and was brought to Lakeridge Health Oshawa. PC Ryan Bandstra sat beside me on the hospital bed and had a conversation with me. I do not remember much of the conversation but I know he got me to open up about my Christian faith. I have a cross tattooed on my arm and that was what he used to start the conversation. Being reminded of my faith allowed me to have hope. He talked with me until security took over. Before he left, he handed me his card from the police. He told me I could contact him via email if I ever needed.

I continued to down spiral. My next encounter with PC Ryan Bandstra was October 1, 2018. It was on this night that he saved my life. I was extremely suicidal and decided since overdosing was not working as a means of death, I would do death by cop. When PC Ryan Bandstra found me, I was in a field by my apartment in downtown Whitby. I had armed myself with a knife and fake toy guns. A friend and neighbour was with me. She is known to the police and known to arm herself as well. PC Ryan Bandstra approached me and began shouting to me the name of the church that I attend that I had previously shared with him. After about 30 seconds, I dropped everything in my hand. Police approached and disarmed me. Cst. Bandstra made sure I was going to be okay and encouraged me to email him. I still had his card. We have stayed in contact since that night.
We made the agreement that he would attempt to ask officers responding to me to be more compassionate if I would be cooperative. He assisted me in learning how to better communicate what I needed when police and EMS came to assist me. By December, I decided that what happened in my past had to be let go and that I could now absolutely trust police. I truly believe now that police are there to protect me and assist me. I think I have had one negative encounter with police since October 1, 2018 and it was not that negative. I went from having multiple (over 5) calls a week to about only 5 in January.

Just before Christmas, PC Ryan Bandstra was in my building supporting the neighbour who had previously been in the field with me that night. We live on the same floor. When he had finished the call with her, he took a few minutes to come speak with me. He made sure I knew that he had forgiven me for my poor choices in October.

By mid-January, I was able to take responsibility for my poor choices and to extend the same compassion that PC Ryan Bandstra to others that I was harbouring bitterness towards. I feel free. Everyone, including the doctors in the Oshawa emergency department, are noticing a difference in me.

It has been over 15 years since I have felt as well as I do now. PC Ryan Bandstra has made a substantial difference in my life.