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A Difference A Day Makes

I'm always amazed by what a difference a day makes. In the throes of a mental illness episode, it feels like it will never end but, it always does.

As I wake to greet a brand-new day, I breathe a sigh of relief. And in the first few minutes, I’ve been awake, I am already feeling better than I did yesterday. And as the day progresses, my spirits remain high; because of this, I can’t help but think of what a difference a day makes.

Yesterday, I spent the majority of my day sleeping. I cared little for the beautiful day that lay just beyond my window. Having made the decision to have my kids shelter in place with their mother weeks ago, I have found my mood slipping more and more as of late.

Although I know in my heart that I made the right decision, knowing that does little to ease the pain of missing them. I find some moments, hours and even some days unbearable. All I want is to hug them and breathe in the simple things that matter most, their love.

Dealing with mental illness and isolation.

How I learned to ride the wave.

When it comes to my mental health, I am faced with some pretty tough challenges, ones that don’t get better overnight. PTSD, for example, is relentless, cruel and unforgiving. It’s all things that keep me up at night. However, I have managed to find ways to cope through my depressive episodes, flashbacks and the overstimulating effects that come with interacting with the wider world.

With that said, sometimes coping skills like mindfulness, exercise and cognitive behavioural approaches just don’t work, and I find myself drowning in a sea of mental despair. These are the staple coping strategies I use. Not foolproof, but they nonetheless help me out significantly.

Thankfully, I have come to realize that even the most challenging episodes always pass; all I have to do is ride the wave and bear its brunt. Once the storm passes, I am able to employ the above skills I have learned in therapy.

Overall, I have learned that while in the peak of the mental storm, it’s okay to shut down; it’s not something that needs to be solve. It just is what it is. Like me, you’ll be okay too. Tomorrow, you will see what a difference a day makes.

Why do we feel like it’s wrong?

In a quest for the answer to this question, I have come to a few conclusions. Firstly, when a mental illness has control over the way we feel, it has control over the way we think; hijacking our neurology is what it does best, and sabotage is its game.

When we are overcome with mental illness, it tells us that we are not good people and convinces us that we are worthless in the process. Moreover, it seems the larger the episode, the larger the worthlessness and guilt we feel. Do we know this is not true? Of course. Does it make us feel better when in these darker moments? Of course not. Ah, the power of the mind to turn on itself, almost like an autoimmune disease.

Want to hear the mental health journeys of others? Go to A New Dawn podcast.

Secondly, Stigma plays a role in the intensity of the guilt we feel. This shame exacerbates the intensity of the dread that we feel. After all, our ability to keep ourselves going is how we measure our worth as people.

A difference a day makes

However incorrect this assumption may be, we nonetheless allow it to dominate and define us and as a result, we hate ourselves when our mental health takes a huge hit.

I, for one, will no longer be at the mercy of stigma’s mythology; my pain is already enough on its own. It really doesn’t matter what people think, especially when they are wrong.

So, remember, sometimes we have to ride the wave and wait for tomorrow. It really is amazing, the difference a day makes. You and I have survived 100% of our worst days, therefore, we can do it again. We are mental-health warriors.

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Jonathan Arenburg.
Jonathan Arenburg.

Jonathan Arenburg is a mental-health blogger, writer, and published author, appearing in the i’Mpossible’s Projects Lemonade Stand III. He has also been a contributing writer for Mental Health Talk, a column in his local paper. In addition, he has written for the mental-health advocacy organization Sick Not Weak.

Jonathan has also appeared on several mental health-related podcasts including: A New Dawn, The Depression Files, Books and Authors, and Men Are Nuts. Since being put off work because of PTSD, Jonathan has dedicated his time to his mental-wellness journey while helping others along the way.

Educated as an addictions counsellor, he has dedicated most of his professional life of eighteen years to working with those who have intellectual disabilities, behavioural challenges, and mental illness.

He has also spent fifteen years in the volunteer fire service helping his community.

His book “The Road To Mental Wellness” goes into detail about his life-long battle with depression, anxiety and more recently, PTSD. In it, he hopes to provide insight on how mental illness cultivates over a lifetime and, if not recognized and treated, how it impacts the entirety of one’s life, right from childhood into the adult years. Jonathan lives with his two children in Nova Scotia, Canada.

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