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I Thought I'd be Cured By Now

Cured by now

Somehow, I underestimated the speed of my recovery.

When I first started this blog, The Road To Mental Wellness, I was certain that I would beat mental illness. Not only was I sure that I would get to the end of my wellness journey, I anticipated that I would be cured by now.

One might say “How can one predict a swift recovery when battling a mental health condition?” That’s a great question. It would turn out I grossly underestimated its strength. When I knew this battle lay at my feet, I was relived in a sense because I was no stranger to being debilitated by a psychiatric disorder.

Really, I should have known at its onset that this was no ordinary roadblock in life. Considering I am battling not one but three mental illnesses, a monumental fight that will force me to go the distance.

never run off entangled in a mental mess without figuring out a plan to free yourself.

My forecast, was indeed short sighted, it was predicted on my previous dances with anxiety. When I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, I systematically kicked its ass. I beat it by applying the same tools and principles I’m using today. So why am I not seeing progress?

How to treat anxiety

So what are these tools and principles? Well, in short, I do whatever it takes to get better. But John, what do you mean? Well, let’s go back to when my anxiety was winning and I was off work the first time.

While you’re here check out more posts here

I work with persons with sever mental disabilities and behavioral difficulties, sound stressful right? It is a unique environment, one that easily cultivates an anxiety disorder. I love my job but unfortunately so did my generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). To add more complication to the matter, I was also a volunteer firefighter. Essential dealing with death and destruction at every turn.

Whatever it takes means that you make yourself vulnerable enough to seek out the help you need, to finally do the right thing for you.

And, as we all know, work is but one dimension of life. My personal life suffered from my ailment and inevitably, it also played a roll in my decline. I ended up in this negative, anxiety and environmentally driven feedback loop that accumulated to the degree where something had to give. It morphed into a mental health emergency. I knew I something had to give and let me tell ya, I wasn’t about to give up my life. So faced with the prospect of ending it all, I parted ways with my life and walked off the job and right into stress leave. I also made drastic changes to my personal life.

Being fully aware that I was teetering on the edge, I knew that if I were to survive this ever present demon that I would need a plan. If there’s a lesson for you in my own mental wellness journey, its never run off entangled in a mental mess without figuring out a plan to free yourself.

Whatever it takes means that you make yourself vulnerable enough to seek out the help you need, to finally do the right thing for you. In my case, I sought the help of a psychiatrist for medication and when he offered up referrals for counseling and a mood group I said yes! I read extensively about the mental health benefits of clean eating and exercise so guess what? I said yes to that too.

Benefits of a good diet and exercise on mental health

By saying yes, I turned away from the path of this mental health emergency toward the road to mental wellness. It was a six months journey but nonetheless I did recover. After this, I went back to work and did really well for a long time.

come hell or high water I will get there.

Cured by now

Sadly, despite all the progress, I was never able to completely eradicate the beast within. That said, I was winning the battles with all my new coping tools. I managed but started to realize that my amour was wearing thin. Near the end, I knew that I was badly damaged and needed help.

When I came face to face with my last traumatic incident I relented, fell to my knees and crawled my way out of my workplace. The only thing I knew is that I had finally fallen victim to post traumatic stress disorder. At least, that was what I suspected.

My suspicions were proven to be true as I was officially diagnosed with PTSD by a psychologist. So, there I was and still am fighting the biggest mental battle of my life. Still off work and will little progress made I have to look at it and say no wonder this is a longer fight.

When you read through the literature on PTSD you see the word debilitating a lot, indeed that’s true. Comparing the two mental health conditions and the two paths to healing is foolish of me. Does this mean that this time I won,t make my way back? Of course not. This round, it’s a much higher mountain to climb but come hell or high water I will get there, I will win.

Please note: that if you think you may have PTSD, please contact your health care provider and talk to them. I highly recommend you request a referral to your mental health services.

Want help fund my book? donate: GOFundMe – The Road To Mental Wellness – The book

Facebook: facebook.com/TRTMW

You may also enjoy: PTSD: The Impact Of Stigma On Firefighters

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Fearful of the Future.

Fearful of the future

As I get further away from the life I once knew, I become more fearful of the future.

As time puts distance between where I am today and the life I lived for twenty years, my uncertainty grows. Running parallel to this uncertainly is an increase of fear for the future. Once I was diagnosed with PTSD and the compensation was approved, I was freed up to think about tomorrow. So,, what does my future hold in store for me? A question that wreaks havoc with my anxiety.

Although a long way off from having to come up with an answer, I find myself entertaining it, a lot.

I guess one could say I am putting the cart before the horse, maybe that’s true but, nonetheless, as time goes on I feel more and more useless. I have spent my entire life off the wall busy, now, there are many days where I find it a chore to look at my phone. How does one deal with such a drastic turn? As discouraged as I am, i still fight on.

I am trying to wiggle my way out and run towards some semblance of joy.

During this turbulent time I will find that answers i seek but first, I must get well; Get strong enough to cope with the symptoms of trauma and its accompanying depression. Even though I know I have to continue the fight, I feel more and more like a astronaut, free floating through the vastness of space. I don’t know where to turn, all I’m doing is hurling towards nothing.

Not only do I feel like I am heading towards nothing, I also feel nothing. For the best part of a month, depression has held me in it’s unforgiving grip. Though it has loosened somewhat, I am trying to wiggle my way out and run towards some semblance of joy.

This is a road that I have been down before, its old hat for me really. I am willing to bet that many of you have also felt the invisible weight of a depressive episode. having suffered for years is how I know that episodes of mental pain come to an end, eventually.

How to get through a depressive episode.

This unequivocal fact is what keeps me holding on while I ride the wave. I find it very useful to give myself permission to rest for ten to forty minutes a day on my bed in absolute silence. This will keep the dark at bay for most of the day. It’s important to understand that giving into the pain and staying in bed is very dangerous to ones mental health so try to limit your time.

The most important thing here is that we have too much too live for to stop seaching for the answers……

Also, I have found that it’s important to celebrate your successes no matter how small. So if that means you are able to go to from the bed to the couch than, that’s amazing. Its a huge win because depression makes it feel like the easiest tasks seem like the most difficult.

I may have huge concerns about what my future will look like but if I remain fixated on them, how can I get better? It will simply add another dimension that hinders the healing process.

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That’s why being mindful in the moment is so essential. Mindfulness can help us stay in the moment and if practiced, it becomes more and more automatic. Getting better is where we need to put our energy. If we continue to fixate on the future with fear, it leaves little room to worry about the now. What do I do about what’s right on front of me? For example; am currently anxious or I am feeling depressed at present?

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There are a lot of different psychotherapy options out there, including therapy centered around mindfulness. Personally, I am a huge advocate of multiple approaches. Taking part in yoga or meditation classes can help to center you in on the now and may even alleviate your mental pain.

Fearful of the future.

The bottom line? We need to get better, that means we must stay focused and deal with the mental illness or illnesses we have been inflicted with. Sometimes, one option isn’t enough. Sometimes we need to take a holistic approach to healing. The most important thing here is that we have too much to live for to stop searching for solutions in the right here, the right now…… Keep going.

if you are suffering from PTSD or another mental illness, please reach out. I thank you for your service and you are still worthy and mean something. I believe in you!
If you are struggling please go here: Crisis Services Canada

Want help fund my book? donate: GOFundMe – The Road To Mental Wellness – The bookYou may also enjoy: I am vulnerable: I’m good with that.

Facebook: facebook.com/TRTMW

Didn’t See It Coming.

Didn’t see it coming

Didn’t see it coming: As if anxiety and PTSD weren’t enough, major depressive disorder too?

Out of all my mental health conditions, the one I never thought was an option was major depressive disorder (MDD). It crept under the radar, cloaked in my anxiety disorder; at least this is what I thought was the source of my woes. I guess I didn’t see it coming.

I have always been a fairly positive, up beat person so it came as a surprise when the psychiatrist diagnosed me with it. However, after exploring the symptoms and looking back on it now, I see it plain as day.

Signs and symptoms of major depressive disorder.

Not only can I see it’s influence on my life, I can say with certainty that it’s been in the background since adolescence. In my teens, it was masked as moody teen behavior. Perhaps this is why the heavy dread went undetected.

“What’s more imperative is finding ways to minimize its impact on the quality of my life”.

Robbed of energy and full of inexplicable sad, I rationalized it away by thinking that everyone gets the blues now and again. But the Blues don’t generally cause mental exhaustion and physical pain, a fact I failed to observe for years.

These depressive episodes only became clear after I was diagnosed with PTSD. It was at this moment when I realized how interwoven the two mental health disorders were. The trauma I accumulated brought to my attention just how cyclic the moments of “blue” are. I have several episodes a year. How could I have mistaken this for normalcy?

This is a question that I struggle to answer, now at almost forty-four, I have excepted that I will never know. Honestly, I am ok with that. It’s source is now irrelevant. What’s more imperative is finding ways to minimize its impact on my quality of my life.

Treatment options for depression

Although it exacerbates my disconnect to the outside word; a disconnect that comes with the post traumatic territory, I work hard so I’m not swept away by its unrelenting feelings of worthlessness.

“improve your quality of life by doing your best to squeeze every drop of happy out of this life you’ve been given. “

One thing I recommend for you, is talking to those closest to you. Get their feedback on what it is they see about you. For example, you might think that you’re simply tired all the time and that’s why you sleep in a lot. but i is there more to it? Remember, be gentle, you are asking for their help.

see
Didn’t see it coming

Pay attention to how you feel, really stop and think about it. Am I feeling inexplicably sad and want to cry? Do I feel this way for more than two weeks? Do I withdrawal from things I used to love, family get togethers etc?

Since your here Checkout and share: Path To Mental Healing

If through your investigations you find cause for concern, maybe it’s time to see a mental health professional. Once you know for sure, you can restart your way down the road to mental wellness.

For me, I do most of the work between the lows so as to help me cope when they hit. Diet and exercise are key players in my recovery. Changing my eating habits have taught me the importance on good food’s health benefits, including mental health.

I know MDD can be discouraging but try and keep in mind it’s not something you can just get over. If in doubt, do some research you will discover that it is a real, legitimate illness that can be chronic and debilitating. You didn’t ask for it but you must tackle it. Is everyday going to be filled with joy? Not likely, but you can improve your quality of life by doing your best to squeeze every drop of happy out of this life you’ve been given.

Mental Mess – Cleaning up

Mental mess

Does avoidance really make it better? Or does it leave a mental mess?

Time, they say it heals all wounds. While I’m not convinced of this, I’m sure there are many people who take comfort in the thought that the passage of time is some sort of healer. Perhaps for some it is. I can see it being helpful when the tides of life are high and things before one seem impossible to cope with one’s mental mess.

Ways to deal with our mental pain

With that said, from my perspective, its not time in itself that makes our darkest moments in life lighter. Rather, its what we do in a given period of time that can help facilitate the healing process. Is remaining idle really the best way to move past pain? Or, Is this the equivalent to burring it somewhere deep down?

I have always been a take action kind of guy. I ask myself, what I feel to be the most fundamentally important question. What do I have to do to fix this? In my view, avoidance is not a coping tool.

The danger of avoidance

We modern humans don’t like to feel uncomfortable. Slightly cold? Turn the heat up; have a bead of sweat on your brow? blast the A/C; And, If one feels any twinge of mental pain, avoid, avoid, avoid. Some will do whatever they must to wiggle their way around talking about things that remain hidden and thus unresolved.

I’m inclined to believe that ignoring it has the potential to be devastating.

While opening up about how own feels is undoubtedly very difficult and can illicit very strong emotional feelings, I have difficulties thinking of things in life that aren’t more difficult initially before they get better. Life is messy, any attempts to clean it up and make it better are always meet with a large challenge in the beginning. Just like the last time you cleaned up that pantry you’ve been avoiding for months. What did that feel like at first? Overwhelming right?

Despite feeling like an ocean wave is heading right for you, you understand that this task must be done, its driving you up the wall. But, as you tackle the clutter, do you feel worse or is the angst beginning to lift?

I’m willing to wager that the anxiety you feel is starting to dissipate as you can see that this tiny faction of your life’s problems is starting to become less and less chaotic. By the end of it you always feel better and are glad you dealt with it.

So, what’s this got to do with how one deals with their emotional self? Well, let’s replace the challenge of the pantry with the difficulties of mental illness. When one first comes face to face with a diagnosed mental health condition; how do they feel? For me, I was very overwhelmed, it was as though a giant wave was washing over me, I had no place to run. I had two choices, deal with it or ignore it. Would ignoring my diagnoses been wise? What happens when people do?

Since you are here, check out Post Traumatic Stress Tested In Real Time

I feel that ignoring symptoms makes life difficult. If one has depression for example, calling in sick all the time because its just too much is not solving the depressive episodes, its putting your living at risk. So in this instance, is not dealing really working? Considering the consequences of pretending your ok can be dire. In fact, I’m inclined to believe that ignoring it has the potential to be devastating.

Mental Mess

I will leave you with this; If you deal with what is slowly dismantling your life, you will see a reduction in the overwhelming anxiety that comes with simply living with the mess. If you work on your turmoil, will you see a gradual reduction in symptoms? When you have gotten it straightened out, will you feel a sense of accomplishment or will it feel worse? Of course, it’s for you to decide but I do know that you’ll never know unless you confront your mental mess.

Medications – At An Impasse

Medications

After a long experiment with different medications, I have to close this chapter and go with what I am left with.

For those who visit The Road To Mental Wellness regularly, you may have come across a post or two that talked about the my unique challenges surrounding medications. For those of you that haven’t I’ll give you a quick run down.

Since November of last year, I have been seeing a wonderful psychiatrist who has been working diligently to find a pharmaceutical treatment that will quiet my symptoms of PTSD, depression and anxiety. I am grateful that there is someone advocating for me with such a desire to want to help.

What makes my challenge a unique one is a preexisting medical condition. I have a seizure disorder called epilepsy. To be more specific about the difficulties it brings, it’s not the disorder in itself, its the medication to prevent the seizures.

I will mentally make a list of all the grateful things that have come out of this experience.

This story is a good news, bad news type of story. The good news is actually great news for me. Since I have been treated with this med, a drug called Carbamazepine, it has helped me remain seizure free since 1994. a fact that I am still very grateful for. It has meant the difference between living a normal, meaningful life and caving out a world dictated by disease.

By now you must be wondering what epilepsy medication and mental illness treatments have to do with one another? Well, Carbamazepine washes most of the SSRI’s, serotonin reuptake inhibitors out of liver, drugs that are used to treat mental health conditions like Depression and PTSD. Antidepressants and the like are systematically washed out of the liver by this particular anti-convulsant. Sucks, right?

Depression and PTSD.

With that being said, not all hope was lost. I was happy to hear that despite the unique position I was in, there were a few options we could try. This news was a huge relief for me because I desperately needed something to dull the fear, sleepless nights and nightmares.

I accepted all the medications that were offered hoping against hope that with every new prescription came a potential that I could get my life back. But, to no avail, they either did nothing for me or made me so tired I couldn’t function.

Loosing really isn’t an option for me

Here we are, at an impasse. We have reached the end of the line pharmaceutically speaking. There’s no doubt that, although I’m not surprising, I was nonetheless was saddened by the news.

Never one to give up easily, I brushed aside the feelings of disappointment. I am determined to carry on. I know that there are many more options out there. I can improve my diet and exercise more for starters.

So, what does this mean for me? Well, first off, I will mentally make a list of all the grateful things that have come out of this experience. To give you an idea of what gratitude looks like for me, below is a list.

medications
Medications, not the only option
  1. I had been put on a medication they may not hampered drug treatment options but has allowed me to live my life and do many wonderful things.
  2. I have an excellent psychiatrist that has truly exhausted all options and has been a seller advocate for me.
  3. Despite the feelings of lonely and isolation, I have a wonderful support system the ranges from close friends and family to the all the mental health and other agencies that have supported me.
  4. I know for a fact that there are other options.

Loosing really isn’t an option for me. when I review my own reasons to be grateful, it helps me carry on. So, if you’re feeling the weight of despair and feel like you’re getting no where, write down all the great things that are in you life. You may be surprised to see just how far you’ve come, how strong you are and who cares when the chips are down.

You may also enjoy: Signs Of Strength When You’re Not Mentally Well

You may also find support from sicknotweak.comanewdawnaa.com

You may also enjoy: Apologies For What, Being ill?

Want help fund my book? donate: GOFundMe – The Road To Mental Wellness – The book

You may also enjoy: I am vulnerable: I’m good with that.

Contact me on Facebook: facebook.com/TRTMW

Who’s taking care of you?

Who’s taking care of you?

I learned very early on that I wanted to spend my life helping others. I can’t describe why or where it came from, All I knew is that it burned deep within. Later on, I began to wonder who’s taking care of me.

So, joining the fire service seemed like a perfectly good place to fulfill my desire to help. In the first years of my service, it was wonderful. I caught they bug, big time and never looked back. At least and until my desire to help others was manhandled by mental illness.

I recall being so happy to be part of this organization. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no better way to contribute to your community than signing up to be a volunteer firefighter. Although I battle with PTSD everyday, I will never regret my years jumping on the rig and running in to help extinguish chaos.

The other bug in the room, the one that was rarely discussed or even seen as a priority, was PTSD. People in the emergency services aren’t good at looking after themselves. I’m living proof of this.

“I can’t help but think that the number people with PTSD is higher when you factor in the undiagnosed. “

There is a silver lining in the dark storm clouds of nightmares and hypervingilance, PTSD is becoming more acceptable. Great news for all of us, especially for those places that have peer support programs and easier access to professional help. But, what if your emergency service doesn’t have such things in place? What is one to do?

Symptoms of PTSD

Well, I can only offer up lessons of my own inner battle, a battle I now know, I should have waged years before I did. Although grateful to still be here, its a struggle everyday. I share my experience through this blog, here’s a post you might enjoy: The Power of PTSD – Overtaken

First of all, no matter what your buddies say, post traumatic stress is not something that can be buried. It’s buried alive and will eventual claw its way the surface. For many, it will exact it will exact its revenge.

CBC’s The Nature of Things explain some facts about PTSD in their article; PTSD: Canada Has the Highest rate, plus eight more surprising facts; In this article they indicate that 9.2% of Canadians will experience PTSD at some juncture in their lives. This number is the hightest in the world!

So, What dose this tell us? Well it demonstrates, at least to me that PTSD is real and can happen to you. I can’t help but think that the number people with PTSD are higher when you factor in the undiagnosed.

Now that we know post traumatic stress is a thing; the question becomes who’s taking care of you? Since we know that stigma looms large within the fire service, it is our responsibility. In my own case I knew something wasn’t right for a very long time. In simple terms, if you feel any form of mental discomfort for a pronged period, don’t ignore it.

Different treatment options for PTSD

This was a revelation for me because I came to understand that I am not the only one living my life.

We are now living in an age where there is more help than ever for this debilitating mental health condition, ranging from peer support to government programs. With that said, prevention is still the area where we need to work harder on. In Nova Scotia we have a crisis response team to help debrief emergency service workers following a critical incident. A prevention option that was severally under utilized in my department.

Although it should be the fire service leaders who put preventive measures in place, it is incumbent on us to ensure our own wellbeing. I came to this conclusion when I realized that my family, my support system have an emotional investment in my health. This was a revelation for me because I came to understand that I am not the only one living my life.

Who’s taking care of you?

Whatever encourges you to get help, if you know you need it, do it. Find your reason to get better. You got this! Your pride and fear could quite possible have dire concequences…. Trust me.

If you are a firefighter in Nova Scotia and are in need a debrief, visit the Critical Incident Stress Management for the fire service in Nova Scotia. Or for individual treatment go here: Dr. Jeffery Holsick, trauma Specialist

Path to Mental Healing

The rocky path to healing
Path to mental healing.

Mental healing can be long and arduous.

The path to mental healing is not an easy one to navigate through. It’s by no means a clear, well maintained road. The terrain of mental illness is way to rough for it to every be paved with a smooth blacktop of continual happy.

Along this path there have been points were my mental pain has acted like thick overgrowth, forcing me to a slow crawl, sometimes on my belly. Regardless, I know I must carry on with this battle and not let my mental health condition get the best of me.

Since you’re here, check out Pave New Roads

Like life in the physical world, the realm constructed out of our neurology has some debilitating moments. But, like life in the world that surrounds us, we also have mental moments where it’s nothing but clear sailing; our path is clear and free of the mental mess that sometimes trips us up. In these moments, we feel like we have reached our goal, we are finally healed. At least, this is how I feel when I experience those moments.

“Always remember, don’t pay attention to the naysayers, they have no idea what a mental illness battle is like. Only you know how you feel”.

The road to mental wellness and its accompanying pain is a consistent venture. One that anyone suffering any form of long term pain can sympathize with. Prolonged discomfort digs away at our tolerance and takes a fast walking, always energetic individual down to a slow, barely one foot in front of the other type of person. It’s as though they were thrown in a vat of molasses and asked to run to the ladder. They tire almost immediately.

Mental Illness and exhaustion

Mental illness is that vat of molasses; that thing that slows and exhausts the biggest go getters, often robbing them of their positive disposition. This mental exhaustion is a devastating blow to what wellbeing that remains. This, understandably makes matters even more dire.

In my experience talking to others who are too sick to contribute to the world,  not one of them, not one has said “I’m sick but I’m thrilled to be at home”. Always remember, don’t pay attention to the naysayers, they have no idea what a mental illness battle is like. Only you know how you feel.

The focus? Is to get better. Or at least arrive at a point where you can reintegrate into a world that wizes by you as though you are cloaked. We are invisible to them because they have zero emotional investment in our lives. Remember, you get to choose where you put your energy. Put it on those who care.

Ways to improve your mental health

path to a healing journey

So, a road to healing may seem daunting and impossible but working on you despite that is imperative. Clean eating, exercise and embracing those who know your worth will help you circumvent the tougher points. You can get better, some wounds never heal completely so always remember how far you’ve come.

If you are suffering from PTSD, please reach out. I thank you for your service and you are still worthy and mean something. I believe in you!
If you are struggling please go here: Crisis Services Canada

Want help fund my book? donate: GOFundMe – The Road To Mental Wellness – The book

You may also enjoy: But a Mere Crawl: Slowly making my way towards mental wellness.
Contact me on Facebook: facebook.com/TRTMW

Under Estimating The Wave Of Depression

Caught in the Undertow of Depression

As of late, I have been spending more and more time as a recluse. I have once again found myself in the tight grip of the mental illness known as depression. As a result, I have taken comfort in the safety of my own home. I have done so for the best part of three days.

You ever had such a strong depressive episode that it takes a supreme effort just to look at a notification on your phone? If you have, you are aware of the waves that can sometimes overtake us. That’s what I have done, I am so used to the ups and downs of my mental health condition that, like that of a weather satellite, I can predict the out come of said wave with a high degree of accuracy.

Normally, I have no issue giving myself permission to retreat, letting the symptoms of PTSD and Depression work themselves out. Now, I have gotten to a point where I am only at its mercy. But I am on day three now and If I didn’t have to leave the house today, I wouldn’t. It mentally aches to even think about going out the door.

Read more on depression and energy levels here

Although this spidey sense of mental health has proven to be an invaluable tool in the fight to keep my on the road to mental wellness, every now and again the radar just isn’t working the way it should.

“My depressive state was likely brought on by the post traumatic flashbacks“.

I could feel it’s heavy dread start to bare down on me over the past week and a half and as I felt its weight, I knew I was becoming increasingly symptomatic. This heavy dread can only mean I am falling into a low of depression.

I knew it started a week and a half ago because my sleep became less, my startle response became as sensitive as a tuning fork and every little sound grated my nerves. Sadly, this puts all my loved ones on eggshells, my lack of tolerance peaks at a two out of ten. Before you know it, I am cranking at everyone over everything.

All of the before mentioned symptoms are sadly nothing new. What I hadn’t encountered in a long time was the degree in which they would have control over me. It hasn’t been this rough for months. I was so despondent that I canceled all my appointments but one, I slowly made a retreat for the bedroom more often, and mu energy is barely peaking past a two.

My depressive state was likely brought on by the post traumatic flashbacks I was experiencing around this two week time frame. However, upon reflecting on this wave that I had under estimated, I can be grateful for a few things. I did see it coming and have tried hard to employ the mindfulness tools that I have leaned in therapy, they did get me through some harrowing moments. Finally, I am seasoned enough to know that this will pass and calmer, happier times lay ahead of me.

if you are suffering from PTSD or another mental illness, please reach out. I thank you for your service and you are still worthy and mean something. I believe in you!If you are struggling please go here: Crisis Services Canada

Want help fund my book? donate GOFundMe – The Road To Mental Wellness – The book.

Trauma Specialist, Dr. Jeffery Hosick: jeffreyhosick.com

You may also enjoy: Mental Storm Of the Century

Shell Shock

Today, we honour all the men and women who have served their country in battle, many of whom have paid the ultimate sacrifice. While I always take the time to honour them all, I want to pay homage to those who weren’t only physically injured and or killed trying rid the world of human suffering at the hands of those who seek to destroy life, but I also want to pause for a moment to think about those who have mental war injuries that are, not only painful beyond comprehension, but for some, last a lifetime. For these brave women and men, their battles are never over, their war within is never won.

Nowadays, this mental heath war injury is known as Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. It is well understood compared to when the symptoms of this mental health condition were first observed by medical professionals during the first world war ; (The Canadian Encyclopedia) when thousands of soldiers were stricken with depression, insomnia and nightmares. By 1917 these symptoms would be given a name; Shell Shock. For a full list of symptoms go here
Charles Myers, a British medical officer was the first to use this term for the symptoms he was witnessing on and off the battlefield. These clusters of symptoms were also known as war neurosis, (Encyclopedia.com).

Despite the fact that doctors of the day had ruled Shell shock out as some sort of physical medical ailment and came to believe that it was psychiatric in nature, stigma still prevailed. As a result, the men who exhibited the signs of this condition were considered to be cowards, even being charged in a fake trial, found guilty of deserting the military and shot by their colleges. After the war, many more were committed to mental institutions and subjected to ETC, electroshock therapy, whilst many more were placed in solitary confinement as a treatment option.

By today’s standards, this approach to treatment is considered Berberich. I would go so far as to say that it is these very sorts of atrocities people go to war to try and prevent. That being said, we have come along way since the days of WWI, so far in fact, sigma seems like a minor itch today in comparison, there’s no doubt that things are so much better now.

But we must always remember that the internal torment of PTSD can not be minimized. Understand that our brave men and women who are wounded in this way live in a form of psychological solitary confinement and many are only receiving minimal treatment. Yet, many more veterans live life on the streets, a tragedy that’s made worse by government cutbacks to veteran’s support systems.

However, you brave warriors are not forgotten and I think about the sacrifices you have made and the suffering you continue to endure often. Thankfully, PTSD is more accepted today than it ever has been and with that comes more empathy and support. Despite cutbacks, there are programs out there to try and help heal your injuries or at least make them more tolerable. There are support groups springing up full of people who understand your pain.

Again, thank you so much for your service, I am free because of you and I am grateful. Let me leave you with this short poem by Siegfried Sassoon, a world war one soldier and poet who suffered from the horrors of shell shock, this poem was inspired by his injury.

“Lest We Forget”

Survivor

No doubt they’ll soon get well; the shock and strain
Have caused their stammering, disconnected talk.
Of course they’re ‘longing to go out again,’—
These boys with old, scared faces, learning to walk.
They’ll soon forget their haunted nights; their cowed
Subjection to the ghosts of friends who died,—
Their dreams that drip with murder; and they’ll be proud
Of glorious war that shatter’d all their pride…
Men who went out to battle, grim and glad;
Children, with eyes that hate you, broken and mad.

–Siegfried Sassoon, Craiglockhart. October 1917.
Source: BBC Home, Inside Out Extra: Wednesday, March 3, 2004, http://www.bbc.co.uk/insideout/extra/series-1/shell_shocked.shtml

A Side Effect

Anxiety

 A few months ago I met with a chap who opened up to me and told me he had suffered from anxiety for a very long time. I sat and listened to his life’s story and the roadblocks that cropped up from being struck with this almost always on, mental health condition. His story is not uncommon although the circumstances that impacted his life’s journey are unique to his experience, there are so many others out there who can relate to the common symptoms it produces. As far as I’m concerned, this commonality is a strength. I feel this way because it means that this chap and others, like you, aren’t alone.

Prevalence of mood and anxiety disorders  (Canada; Stats Canada, 2014).

For one reason or another, I started to think about anxiety and it’s origins. Maybe there was something within the content of his story that ignited my thinking on the matter. Regardless of the source, I can’t help but wonder how many people are suffering from an anxiety disorder as a secondary function of another mental illness, a side effect if you will.
Many of us can identify when we are anxious because we all experience it from time to time. It is a natural reaction to danger and or potential danger. Without anxiety and fear, we would end up being dinner to the nearest predator. In other words, our anxiety is triggered when we feel threatened; this preditor being the reason our anxiety was activated.
So, what are the causal factors that produce constant angst within those with anxiety disorders? Well, Using me as an example, Post-traumatic stress disorder can cause me to be in a near-constant state of hypervigilance. Because of my fire service background, I am always thinking of potential emergencies that may arise and thus thrusting me into helper mode. 
As one might well imagine, this causes lots of anxiety when I step out into the world. My fire service years lead me down the road to PTSD and the fear of more potential death and destruction causes the fight, flight or freeze reaction, then BOOM! the anxiety builds. Therefore, it makes sense that my angst is produced by the PTSD

It’s worth exploring the source of your own anxiety, sometimes there is an underlying cause that is producing feelings of fear for you. Once you know what your triggers are, you can work to minimize its effects on your life. For more on what causes anxiety go here





if you are suffering from PTSD or another mental illness, please reach out. I thank you for your service and you are still worthy and mean something. I believe in you!

If you are struggling please go here: Crisis Services Canada

Want help fund my book? donate GOFundMe – The Road To Mental Wellness – The book.

Trauma Specialist, Dr. Jeffery Hosick: jeffreyhosick.com

You may also enjoy: Getting Through Tough Times

Contact me on my Facebook page: facebook.com/TRTMW

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