Work To Pave New Roads

If your experience is similar to my own, you have had to deal with the ever consistent unpleasantries of mental illness and the impact that it has on your daily life. For as long as I can remember, it has been an overpowering force that can leave me with no choice but to bow down and tap out for a period. I can’t lie, I despise these moments where my mental disorders get the best of me but what can I do? At their peak, I need a day or so to recoup. Chances are I have mentally taxed myself to the point where my mind says “I can’t take it anymore.”

Over time, I have learned the signs of an impending mental low. The symptoms include but are not limited to; severe brain fog, cognitive impairment, short-tempered and an overwhelming sense of dread. I am of the opinion that it is quite OK to drop out of life for a day or maybe two, but at some point in time, I must reintegrate myself with the rest of the world. But how? These darker moments in my wellness journey are constructed by my illnesses telling me to stay home, to not get out of bed. Well, one of the things I have found that works to combat these severe dark days is to pave new roads. I do this by stepping out of my comfort zone.

I’m not one to stray too far from the places in which I am most familiar with, going into the uncharted or rarely explored territory is mentally exhausting, so much so that I tend to shy away from picking up and just and taking off. Despite how mentally taxing this is, last week I decided that the extreme funk I was in need of some sort of new approach. It was a longer and more intense dark period than I normally experience and all the regular things either weren’t working or I wasn’t up for. So I thought to myself; What can I do differently that doesn’t involve other humans?

The day I decided it was time to at least try to turn down the anxiety meter even if it was just a point on the scale, it was a cold but otherwise beautiful day out, so I decided that I would get in my car and go for a drive with no particular destination. So, that’s what I did. Was I feeling up for it? Absolutely not but I went anyway.

It may come as a surprise to some but I have never, not once in my life just got in my car and drove to a random place, one I have never been to, at least not on my own. So, as I embarked on my journey to who knows where I started to feel better. The cab of the car was that perfect warm temperature, that kind that is so comfy that you can’t help but feel better, the music playing in the background also had an impact. It may have been helped along by my very loud karaoke session.

As I headed down this new road, I took in the many open fields and took note of the surrounding mountains in an attempt to live in the moment. Even though I wasn’t in my immediate area, I was still in the valley I grew up in. I could feel the appreciation for the beauty around as the darkness consuming me started being won over by my real self once more.

I travelled for approximately an hour and ended up in a coffee shop where I was just another stranger passing through. Even though my anxiety really hates new places, I almost felt safe knowing that the chances of me running into someone I knew were very small. I think the drive there helped, but also just knowing that I could be around people again and not have to interact with them set me free from the anticipation of having to explain that my illness had flared up. I sipped away at my coffee and watched the unfamiliar world walk by.

Once I had finished, I jumped back into my car and made my way for home, feeling like the magic spell that mental illness cast upon me was starting to wear off and the symptoms associated with its powers over me had dwindled just enough to lift me out of its funk. Indeed, the next day I felt free once more.

So I dared to travel a road less travelled and faced the fears my anxiety produces. As a result, I was able to come out on the other side of the fog rejuvenated and ready for the world. I didn’t think of it at the time, but what I had done in an almost desperate attempt to end my pain was paved a new road in my mental wellness journey. By trying something new I was able to accomplish my goal of paving this new road and as a result, I added another tool to combat my psychological ailments.

A New Destination. 

It seems to me that the biggest power anxiety has over those who suffer, is the power of avoidance, its talent, like a screenwriter is to write a script of a futuristic catastrophe. Therefore, we must find the strength to fight back, recognize avoidance and slowly learn how to combat it. We can do this because we are warriors.

Want more? Please go to my Books On Mental Illness Page.

At Odds With The Self

PTSD I am at war! A fight for my life and all that I love and hold sacred. This conflict is not so much raging against the exterior world around me although I have to say that it provides my enemy with enough ammunition to keep us in the throws of combat for many years to come.

As painful as a prospect of this campaign continuing on for the foreseeable future is, it’s almost more so thinking about how long I have danced with my arch-nemesis. Combining the two thoughts together sometimes makes me wonder how I will take on the next battle and the one after that.
Who is this enemy you ask?  It’s the battle with the self, two factions within my head, vying for supremacy.

The back and forth confrontations of my authentic voice and the voice of mental illness.

How I will win this fight is not entirely certain but what I do know is that I don’t intend to lose. Therefore I will fight on for as long as the anxiety, depression and PTSD want to rage on. Sure I’m outnumbered and it’s true that they sometimes attack alone, in the darkness, at family gatherings or in the local supermarket for that matter. A solo assault I rarely see coming and seldom do I understand its triggers.

Listen to the stories of others at –

When one of them isn’t trying to ambush me, all three form an alliance of pain in an all-out effort to end the war and take their object, my mental well being. These are the toughest, most taunting battles and take so much out of me that I find I have little choice but to avoid the world beyond my doorstep. I guess even the hardest of soldiers need to go on leave, my war is no exception. With this rest, I live to fight another day.

Although this battle is at times, exceptionally difficult, I fancy myself a long-time veteran of this mental tug of war and have spent years learning my disorders battle tactics. Luckily for me, they don’t deviate much from this plan and I am able to deploy my weapons to fight back. Good diet, exercise, deep breathing, and therapy.

My own tactics have given me the upper hand because I am able to discern my authentic voice from that of anxiety, depression and PTSD. I shall never surrender, my loving support system is my mental H bomb and it always keeps me in the fight.

My fellow road to wellness warriors, keep fighting the good fight. Although exhausting, it is absolutely worth every battle scar it leaves behind.

You may also enjoy: Mental Illness and Cleaning out the Garage, What do they have in common? 

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You, Me, And PTSD, its hard on love

So, you recognized and have finally acknowledged that there’s something going on inside, something that requires you to look deep within yourself.
One of the principal drivers for your decision to seek out answers is the constant disruption your unacknowledged feelings and behaviours are causing in your life. Your reactivity and frequent withdrawal from your every day is a source of continuous pain for not only you but also your partner, your rock that bears the brunt of your outbursts and your fluctuating moods.
One day, you decide that enough is enough. Someday your love is going to walk. This prospect makes your desire to stop hurting the one you love far greater than your fear to confront and deal with your aliments.
Sound familiar? This not so pleasant scenario I know all too well and sadly so does my partner. I would give anything not to have been afflicted with the unbearable pain of PTSD but, I am faced with it almost daily. My partner deserves more from me, the better version I can be. She is one of my main motivators for embarking on my journey to wellness and her support and love mean so much to me. Her kind loving nature has been available to me each and every time I fall.

 Connecting with a loved one with PTSD

She’s worth the pain and strife that this journey produces and it’s because of her love that I want to be present for her,  alleviate her own burdens and reciprocate that love and kindness that makes me stronger. My dream is to one day enjoy our lives together and dammit I am going to achieve just that! I can never sufficiently articulate my gratitude for all that she has done. Thanks, beautiful! It’s difficult not to beat myself up when I know that my turmoil is spilling over into the one who props me up the most.

Help for spouses, friends and other supporters of someone who has PTSD

The nightmares often keep me awake at night and the exhaustion only magnifies the symptoms which impact our relationship. She’s a beautiful lady, a very loving soul. So as tough as it may be to confront my PTSD demon, it’s made so much easier knowing that our love is worth saving. When I  walk down the road of life I want to see her next to me, always. This is enough for me to keep fighting the good fight and utilize all the help and resources I can get my hands on, I want to ensure that my wellness journey and our lives together experience the longevity they both deserve.

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