Mental Illness: Sometimes it wins

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Since the beginning of September, I have been participating in a coping skills group. The whole goal of this education style process is to arm you with tools to help guide you through the things that trigger your emotions, anger, sadness etc. The main theme of the group is centred around mindfulness.

I am also learning some very useful mindfulness techniques through my one on one therapy with my psychologist. So far, I have been slowly building the mindfulness tools to help keep me in the present and thus minimizing my time emerged in my deep and detailed PTSD mind, the part of my mind that ruminates in the past and stands on guard for potential tragedies in the future.
But yesterday, yesterday I was overtaken and defeated by my demons. I was triggered and like an ocean wave, crashing on the shore, I was overwhelmed by its might. It started when it was my turn to talk about last week’s homework, we had to pick an example of an incident where our emotional overtook us and evaluate whether the feelings we were experiencing fit the facts.

having been charged with the task of mitigating the tragic consequences of high-speed accidents, I’ve grown to hate speeding, it evokes such intense anger deep within that I struggle to keep my hand off the horn. I try to let it go but all I can think of is that someone is going to put me into a situation where I am going to be forced to render assistance to an irresponsible speeder trying to shave mere seconds off their journey.

My mind in first responder mode, sends me down the rabbit hole of  PTSD’s chaos, reliving some of the most tragic accident scenes I’ve been part of.

This is the scenario I presented to the group and its facilitators. I walked through all the items that were required of the assignment then the numbness started to set in, I could feel the wave of dissociation coming for me but it was too late to inoculate myself against its effects. I remember very little of what took place next. In fact, once it was time to take a break, I was too overwhelmed to return, opting for the quiet, low lit lobby.

How to cope when triggered by PTSD

I remained in the lobby for the remainder of the time, sitting in the comfort of the quiet only getting up to pace the floor every now and again. So I guess the question is, do I feel like a failure for leaving the group?  Well, the answer is no and it’s not entirely because I measured how far I have come, I was simply in the grip of my firefighting past and was not strong enough to reclaim my brain to feel anything.

Let’s be honest, we are all going to have our moments where we can’t outrun the mental illness that lurks in the shadows of all things suppressed. So why pour salt into an already deep festering wound.

So, be good to yourself, when you are overtaken by the tide of your mental health condition, remember, your years and years of being at odds with the self have made you an expert swimmer, a mental health warrior. As a warrior, you know that the overwhelming waters will recede and all the progress you have made will help you win the day.

There’s no shame in mental pain.”


                -John Arenburg.

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.

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