Mental Health Peace Talks

For me, if I don’t constantly negotiate with my anxiety it will initiate a hostile takeover. It will lay claim to not only my mental health but it will invest its control into wreaking havoc on me physically as well. Learn more about the physical symptoms of anxiety here: Physical Signs of Anxiety.

It’s a delicate relationship, the one I have in my head and at times, more often than I care for, I am fooled into thinking that my authentic self and the evils of angst are both honouring the agreement they have signed. That is to allow me to have the peace and happiness I deserve.
Of course, the odds are stacked against anxiety because there is never a desirable moment that I wish to compromise and allow it to have free rein over my life. This mental illness is well aware that I never intended it to have any say in how I conduct my life so it jacked up its negative talk, it’s fear factor elevated and wanted a seat at the neurological table.
But it only wishes to thrive by ensuring that I isolate myself and see to it that it tanks my self-esteem.  It has, sad to say, been very successful at claiming it’s dominance despite many psychological techniques applied and in defiance of the tools I employ to keep it at bay For more on coping tools for anxiety go here: Top 10 Simple Tools to Reduce Anxiety
There are a few things I find helpful, therapy being one of those but as we both know therapists aren’t like support call centres, they’re not on call 24 hours a day to provide assistance. But what I found the most helpful when therapy is not available, is to simply give anxiety permission to have the floor and I take the time to work through it, take a day when I need to. It’s important to realize that this can only be granted when is necessary.

What I’ve learned is that a zero-tolerance policy is a wrong approach to fighting mental illness simply because disorders of the mind do not honour any sort of peace agreement. It prefers to sabotage my happiness by its ever lingering presence in the background, becoming noisier and noisier as the annoyances of life slowly give it enough power to push my authenticity out of the driver seat.  Essentially,  I let it take the wheel and rest until it runs out of fuel and slips into the background once more.

Agreement

So it’s kind of like a summit,  Anxiety And the Mental Health Peace Talks seems a fitting title. Basically, what I am trying to say is it’s OK if you need a day here and there to allow for the symptoms of your illness to flare up, give yourself that permission. It will pass. Making peace with it and take time for self-care will go along way to maintain overall good mental health. Remember, total denial will only give it power. What’s not OK is avoiding what makes you anxious on a continuous basis.
I believe in you.

You may also enjoy: Mental Illness And Cleaning Out The Garage: What Do They Have In Common

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

Sparring With Anxiety

It is said that we accumulate wisdom as we age. I tend to think, for me at least that this is indeed the case. That being said, I acquired this wisdom by embarking on a personal journey to discover my authenticity, my true self that, up until recent history, I had seldom given it a thought. Maybe it’s because I’ve been sparring with anxiety.

After my first mental boxing match with, mental illness had successfully beaten me down after several rounds, I was forced to admit defeat. But like any determined fighter, I worked hard to discover, not only my own weaknesses but also, those of my opponent.

allowed my mental disorders to keep knocking me down, round after round.

When I first started to fight back, I, well, frankly; I sucked at it and like many young people, I thought I was indestructible, that nothing could whoop my ass. So my young self, naive and out of touch with, not only my illnesses but was also a stranger to my true self. I was nothing more than a template that society had formed and moulded.

Get a job, get married, buy a house, you know the drill. I didn’t seem to fit the mould of social expectation and my anxiety hated the “me” that was nothing but a factory model of thousands that had come before and after me. My young self was ill-equipped to deal with the mental illnesses storm that was on the horizon. My coping tool? Tuck and roll and plow through it. We are not allowed to seek shelter from our “perfect life,” So I allowed my mental disorders to keep knocking me down, round after round.

Slowly, I was enveloped by anxiety and depression. It would take tens years to win the fight but up until then, it didn’t only whip my ass, it knocked me out cold. Sad, I had waited until I hit the canvas and ended up in a mental health crisis before I was forced to take a look at why I was losing the war.

I started knocking mental illness to its knees.

The more I got defeated, the more I hit the mat, the more I was forced to get to know who I was as a person and the force that ruled over my life.

Despite losing match after match, I kept right on sparring with my anxiety and depression until I could predict their moves and exploit their weakness.

My, Breaking away from what’s expected and learning to love and accept that I have a sensitive disposition, am a helper to my core and live off compassion. I love being creative and believe that love is the life force in all of us. Once I gave myself permission to explore the real me, I started knocking mental illness to its knees.

In my wisdom, I know that I will always have to fight on and that I will win some days and lose others but because I am edging closer and closer to my authenticate self, sparring with my anxiety and depression is taken on with more vigour and determination than ever.
To learn how you can manage anxiety and depression click here: LifeStyle Changes That Help Anxiety And Depression.
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
Contact me on my Facebook page: facebook.com/TRTMW

PTSD And The Impact Of Stigma On Firefighters.

For fifteen years of my life, I had the great honour of being part of the volunteer fire service family. I, like most people who sign up, caught the fire service fever. As a result, it got into my blood and still runs through my veins to this day.

As far as I am concerned, there is no greater service one can be a part of in terms of making a difference in one’s community. The sacrifice one must make to volunteer their time is tremendous. It requires hours of training and fundraising and that’s just a drop in the bucket.  Despite the hours and hours of service time I logged, I loved each and every second of it, good times and bad. If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter, contact your local fire department for an application. A basic look at requirements here: Volunteer firefighter requirements.

 Being a firefighter has taught me so much, lessons that have been transferable to other parts of my life. One of the most valuable lessons being that you need to take care of what’s in front of you regardless of its challenge. The tragic events that often come with signing up leave you little choice but to simply get it done, hunger, sleep, the need to use the bathroom be damned. Nonetheless, it completely satisfied my love for helping others.

Despite my love for the service, years and years of mentally and physically ingesting the tragedies of others has ended up being my last and most personal sacrifice as a firefighter. I was recently diagnosed with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD. Sadly, I am no longer an active member because of this and debilitating illness.

What adds salt to the wounds of my mental illness is the feeling that I have been unintentionally left out in the cold by those who claimed that the fire department members are all one big “family”. I mean no disrespect, many facets of society have not yet made the connection that PTSD and mental illnesses as a whole are real, bona fide illnesses. Its symptoms are many and produce constant pain. I often refer to this as chronic mental pain.

So, I have felt and continue to feel the impact of stigma on firefighters to this day. I find I’m continuously asking myself; why is there a pervasive silence when it comes to talking about PTSD firefighter to a firefighter? Well, it always felt to me like people wanted to reach out, wanted to make sense of what they were experiencing but really didn’t know-how. Traumatic incidents by their very nature are difficult to make sense of, the brain works hard to make puzzle pieces fit in a puzzle they were not designed for. How do you even begin to talk about that? Where does one start?

I really feel like the stigma is fuelled by the lack of knowledge and trained people on-site to deal with PTSD’s complexities. Sure, there are debriefings sometimes but few compared to the frequency of alarms and some calls go unrecognized as a critical incident. How does a department recognize that trauma impacts people differently? A seemingly small incident may be enough to cause serious mental damage to one but not another. Well, in short, we need trained members who have the skill sets to be able to recognize the signs that someone is in trouble. This training should be made as much a priority as SCBA training and fall under the direction of the department safety officer. Trained personal will fill in the gap when a crisis debriefing team is not necessary for the majority of members. Although people are silent now, it may break the ice to discuss strategies to implement such a training program.

Because we are helpers and because we are problems solvers, the tendency is to try to fix someone with whatever we have in a vocabulary. We often try to help our brothers and sisters by saying things that range from; “Just stop thinking about it”, to “that’s what you signed up for.” Sometimes it starts out with; “You Know what I do?”  or “Let’s go get a beer.” None of these are very helpful for someone who is struggling; people just want to be heard and supported. They want to be supported by being checked in regularly, hand them a number to a crisis counsellor, that kind of thing. It’s not our job to fix our members but it is our responsibility to recognize a problem and direct them to the right resources.


Need help? Not yet ready to venture outside? Start here: online-therapy.com

So, I feel that the impact of stigma on firefighters and PTSD  has a lot to do with failure to recognize it and thus causing a failure to act. When our members, those brave women and men who sign up and risk their lives need our help, need something more than awkward silence and misplace but well-intentioned advice. They need to be given the tools to be supported by professionally facilitated peer groups, frequent education on the subject and individual therapies. After all, they are sacrificing a huge chunk of their personal lives, lets not abandoned them, shame them or think they are weak. We are in the business of saving lives and minimizing human suffering, yet we fail to see that our commitment to our communities is putting our own lives in jeopardy, our biggest emergency is that of our own and for some of us, It is our final alarm.

You May Also enjoy: You, Me And PTSD

 Contact Email: The Road To Mental Wellness

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