rendered me useless

Rendered Me Useless

As I rose from yet another sleepless night, I was hit with an overwhelming feeling of anxiety. This seemingly out the blue spike in angst shot through me and in an instant, rendering me useless. Thankfully, I was able to knock it down a peg or two before it highjacked my entire day.

Even though I was able to defeat the demon within, at least for now, I was still left with why did it happen? My therapist tells me that trying to figure out its source is irrelevant; it’s more important that I focus on the “now” and working on ways to reduce its grip. By using therapeutic techniques like mindfulness I can get through most mental health-related incidents. But not always.

Having spent years in the fire service, I am primed to act, not just sit like some sort of spectator.

Despite what the therapist tells me, I have made it my life’s work to overthink and find solutions for everything that runs through my head. Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to obsess or consume my time trying to find its source. Rather, it found me. Usually uncovering the answer provides me with some relief; not so in this case.

Symptoms of an anxiety disorder.

So then, what set my anxiety ablaze? The answer is simple, Covid! Covid-19. Its everywhere and the fear it produces barrows it’s way into my head and becomes all-consuming. This virus is much more than a two-week fad on social media, in fact, it has been quoted as being the new normal, at least for the for seeable future.

I am anxious, not because of my anxiety disorder itself, but because, my PTSD has rendered me useless

If I were to be more specific about the source of my episode with angst, I would have to say that I’m impacted by two things. Firstly, I must confess that I am constantly being triggered by the bombardment of updates; the news constantly fuels my mental illness fire. Post-traumatic stress disorder hates this sort of stuff. Secondly, I am and always will be a helper. Thankfully, I am still able to help others in the capacity of a mental health blogger and advocate, which is I am grateful for. However, I am primmed to act in times like these. My many years as a firefighter have conditioned me to be this way. Making order out of chaos is our specialty. Sadly, in my mind, these two factors have rendered me useless.

Rendered Me Useless
rendered me useless

Want to hear people speak about their mental health journey? Go here The Depression Files With Al Levin

In addition, my years working in long term care saw there own moments of turmoil. There have been many times in my career where my colleges and I have gone toe to toe with a virus or two. Mentally taxing and physically exhausting, it was all-out war We did our best to tend to the sick and tried to isolate people the best we could.

Looking back on my life, I had made a career out of combating the worst of the worst. Sure, it pales in comparison to what the world is going through now in terms of scale, nonetheless, my years putting my own mental and physical health on the line to help others gives me a glimpse into what is happening around the world. For me, it’s not hard to see why my anxiety was so high.

Not being able to help is my new normal.

I can only conclude that today, I am anxious, not because of my anxiety disorder itself, but because, my PTSD. It has rendered me useless in our darkest time of need. That is a very hard reality to accept. When you couple that with the stress of knowing what it’s like, working in these trenches, I can’t help but worry about my former colleges, my family and my friends. Please be safe everyone.

I also can’t help but think of people who are in the same boat as me. The former firefighters, paramedics, nurses and doctors who have been injured by their jobs and now watch from afar; stricken with a life long affliction with trauma and are fighting it now more than ever. I salute you!

With that said, we can still do our part to stop the spread of covid; we can do this by following the rules of social distancing, washing our hands and isolate ourselves if need be. Literally, the less we do, the more help we will be. In these most uncertain times, this is how we minimize the chaos and serve our communities.

I want you to live: Go to Crisis Services Canada If you need help

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Contact: The Road To Mental Wellness

Paramedics our first defence

Paramedics Our First Defence

I have been wanting to write a piece about our brave Paramedics, those men, women and those of other identities for a long time. However, I have never been able to work out the best way to do that. Today, I am going to try my best to pay tribute to our Paramedics, our first defence. Fitting, considering we are in the throws of the biggest medical emergency of our time.

Having spent fifteen years in the fire service, I have had the honour of working beside this compassion and very highly skilled group of people. Many of them in fact, love helping so much, that they are also members of the fire service community. So, I have nothing but the deepest admiration and respect for them and their commitment to their communities.

Like what you’re reading? Here’s another You, Me and PTSD, Its hard on love

Why then, are those who are literally on the frontlines, those who seem to get the least amount of recognition? I know, I know, that’s not what being an emergency service worker is about. However, it sure as hell isn’t right to take their dedicated service for granted.

They see entirely too much to have them fade into the background without a so much as a thank you, that’s got to have an impact on a person. Instead of showing compassion, many people seem to be disgruntled because they had to make way as these brave souls scream their way to yet another human tragedy. They do so on empty stomachs, full bladders and in some cases, exhaustion.

My friends, the paramedic’s struggles are real.

When we take the time to look at the sacrifices made on our behalf, it’s impossible not to see just how incredibly difficult their job is. Long hours, all types of weather and endless human suffering. To me, they are modern-day warriors; If this were medieval times, they would fight alongside our bravest knights, as they do today; police officers, firefighters, nurses and emergency room doctors. Like knights, they should enjoy equal admiration for the same battle that they are all fighting together.

One of the most vital professions in the world and it’s reduced to “not important enough?”

I know, you must be thinking, what does this have to do with a mental health blog? The answer is lots! As far as I’m concerned, Paramedics are the most underrated warriors of all first responders. Why exactly? I can’t say but what I do feel is that many, like the rest of us in the emergency services suffer from PTSD, we just don’t hear about it. Those first to handle our medical emergency; shouldn’t be the last medical professionals we support when they need it.

On occasion, I have had the opportunity to speak with people in paramedicine. Firstly, I make sure I thank them for their service; secondly, I listen to them. I have heard stories of their colleagues dying by suicide. Many know more than one person who’s efforts to save lives has cost them their own. As if trying to mitigate the tragic moments of others wasn’t enough, they must live with the loss of their friends; the people they work beside every day.

Remember them. they are the ones who show up on our doorsteps,

One Paramedic shared with me that they have lost six of their colleges by suicide. Thinking about how I’d feel if I had a similar experience in the fire service, their story of loss broke my heart. I simply can’t imagine it. Sadly, his years of sacrifice only compounded my sense of sadness when he went on to tell me that he too was also suffering from the mental health workplace injury, PTSD.

Paramedics our first defence

In criss? go to Crisis Services Canada for help.

In stark contrast, I don’t know of a single case of a firefighter dying by suicide; not in my department or any other in the surrounding areas. With that said, I have little doubt that PTSD is lurking in the shadows of every fire hall across the land. For my former fire service family members, please get the help you need. There is hope

My friends, their struggle is real and we must acknowledge that. Paramedics, our first defence. deserve that much and as far as I’m concerned, much more.

“PTSD cannot be beaten when one suffers in silence. I’m sure there is a correlation between mitigating humanity’s chaos and the mythical oath of, “We don’t talk about it”. John Arenburg.

So, as we find ourselves being emersed deeper and deeper into this pandemic, remember them. They are the ones who show up on our doorsteps, the first to administer life-saving medications and the ones who roll the sick through the doors of the ERs. Simply put, when we are sick, these highly-skilled, professionals are there.

I will leave you with this fact. Because some governments don’t value their worth, they are listed as non-essential staff in some places in Canada. Non-essential? Imagine that! More importantly, think about how that must feel to them. One of the most important, most necessary professionals in the entire world and it’s reduced to “not important enough?” Talk about having a horrible boss.

Despite this, we can change that though, we have it within us to take the time to thank them in our darkest hour. Their contribution to the covid-19 battle is and will continue to be immeasurable. So please, take the time to think about their value to our society. Paramedics, our first defence. Moreover, please try and understand the impact that this noblest of professions has on the hearts and mental health of these wonderful people who will work tirelessly to save lives.

I would like to take the time to acknowledge your hard work, your sacrifice and tireless efforts in this most uncertain and tragic time. Moreover, I wish you all good health both to you and your families. I stand with our Paramedics, our first defence

I want you to live: Go to Crisis Services Canada If you need help

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Contact: The Road To Mental Wellness

Missing out on life

Missing Out On Life.

I am willing to bet that many people with mental illness, have had their own battles with medications. Moreover, it’s very likely that many of you have played the game of trial and error; it can take a while to get the right combination before one starts to see the benefits. This process is necessary but perhaps it’s the biggest drawback is missing out on life.

Then, there are those like me, stuck in a unique situation of medication purgatory. It seems that I am truly at a medication impasse. This intersection I have reached on the road to mental wellness is just fine with me; to be honest, this pharmaceutical rollercoaster ride is getting to be way too much.

I had to do whatever I had to so as to have the best chance at beating mental illness and put myself on a path to healing.

Thankfully, there was one drug that showed some benefit, Sertraline. This med worked the best at keeping the suicidal thoughts at bay; which, in my estimation is a very big help. However, the only true effect I have is when its at max dose. 200mgs of heavy and sleepiness.

Pharmaceuticals, they always consider the risks vs benefits when considering treatment, a little tired over some symptoms is ok by me, especially at this point. But now, there are only two options left, continue to take part in therapy or do nothing.OF course, I will continue therapy but it feels, as time goes on, that I need to be near the functional end of this road to mental wellness.

Am I supposed to hang my head and give up? Absolutely not!

On the other hand, being at the end of the pharmaceutical leg of my journey isn’t all bad. Its almost been more debilitating than the battle With PTSD and coping with depression. I have spent half the journey missing out on life. Being so sedated I missed out on so much, mainly time with my partner and experiencing quality time with my kids and parents.

The best way I can describe this near-constant sedation is; think back to a time when you had surgery and how you felt afterwards. Remember that tired and groggy feeling? That’s very close to how I felt, constantly. Sadly, I still do and will until I’m completely rid of this last drug.

Like what you are reading? go New Hope, a New Medication

So then, do I regret putting myself through the harrowing effects of every non-addictive SSRI going? Well, the short answer is no. A journey isn’t a journey if you remain idle so, I had to do whatever I had to so as to have the best chance at beating mental illness and put myself on a path to healing.

What to hear more strories of peope battling their mental illness? go to The Depression Files

My advice to people is this: If the mental illness has taken you, hostage, the first thing you have to do is accept that the road back will not be a pleasant one. So, learn to accept being uncomfortable. More importantly, do use these feelings of being uncomfortable to retreat. Real healing happens when you not only see the barriers in your way, but you actively seek ways to smash them down.

Learn to fight through the discomfort

Missing out on life

So meds don’t work for me, am I supposed to hang my head and give up? Absolutely not! If for whatever reason, I lose the opportunity to live a normal life, I will go down swinging. I went to war against my mental illness and therefore cam armed for battle. Recently, I have gotten back in the gym and am making improvements to my diet. I know for a fact that optimal health does wonders for mental illness related conditions.

Please, keep fighting and finding ways to win your war, you deserve to live. You are the warrior that can make that a reality. Sometimes, even if it means we are sometimes missing out on life.

I want you to live: Go to Crisis Services Canada If you need help

Want to help make my book a reality? Donate here: GoFundMe

Contact: The Road To Mental Wellness