when things went south.

When Things Went South

When things went south, I was ill prepared to cope.

Before you reading, when things went south, I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who has supported The Road To Mental Wellness, your contributions keep me going….. Thank you! Any donations are greatly appreciated. To donate, please click the donate button below

Like many, I never gave too much thought to my life veering off course; After all, nothing bad ever happens, right? To begin with, I naively believed in the, from A to B linear line of success; School, career, kids etc and oh, saving for retirement. Because I believed In this my, well-planned life, I had no defence when things went south.

Well, guess what? As my adult life was busy chasing after my socially constructed reality, everything did indeed hit the ground in a blazing ball of fire. The thing is, no one prepares you for the harsh realities that life throws at you.

We are like modern tech in a sense.

Sure, those who came before you may say, “Life is tough” but then they emphasize how you can be whatever you want in life. The beautiful story right? In reality, you can only affect your destiny so much, after that, the wild card called life gets played.

In my case, the wildcard was an adult, lifelong battle with mental illness. Knowing this now, The question I ask myself most, is why didn’t I see it coming? First off, the Disney like illusion really does little to help you cope and secondly, my life choices fed the beast within.

I now understand many of the factors that got me here

Perhaps, equally to blame, was my wiring. We are like modern tech in a sense, so complicated; that we only use the functions we are most familiar with.

In other words, we are by no means experts on the tech we carry around in our pockets. Similarly, we are only partly aware of what makes us tick. What this does is leave us with a limited understanding of who we are. In my case, when I was young I didn’t understand that I was an empathic person. Heck, I had no idea what that even was.

It wasn’t until things went south, and I was diagnosed with PTSD that I dove into what makes me, me. My diagnosis prompted one very important question; Why did I fall from grace? Well, the short answer is, being overly sensitive to stimulus coupled with my career and volunteer choices. These factors took my life and ran it into the ground.

As it turns out, being highly sensitive and firefighting aren’t compatible with one another. In addition, I worked in a long-term care facility where people with severe behavioural difficulties; turns out, this occupation is also incompatible with a more sensitive disposition.

Overall, I know I’m better off for learning this when things went south.

Of course, I now understand many of the factors that got me here; knowledge I wish I would have had years ago. All I knew then was that I wanted to help others, that was it.

So, here I am, less hair and more wisdom; still, I can’t help but wonder if I would have altered my life’s course had I known that a guy like me was more than likely to suffer from these choices. That I’m afraid, is something that simply cannot be answered. In fact, it really isn’t worth dwelling on.

Check out Sick Not Weak, a non-profit organization dedicated to all Things mental health.

With that said, honestly, I would have hoped the twenty-something me would have chosen a different path; still helped others, just in a more personality friendly way. Whatever the case, it’s a moot point now as I know that these chapters in my story are already written.

While I can’t change my past, my newly acquired self-awareness can propel me into a better future; however, I can only achieve this if I can master living my best life in the now.

While I’m far from being well enough to take on new possibilities with any regularity, I chose to remain hopeful. Overall, I know I’m better off learning these painful lessons when things went south; now, I can build a new normal.

In those momenets

Checkout the book I helped to write:

Lemonade Stand: Vol. III 

Created by Josh Rivedal and Kathleen Myre, Lemonade Stand: Vol. III is a compilation of 20 stories from those who have served in the emergency services and the military.  In it, the authors talk about their battles with PTSD, a debilitating and for many, a life-long mental illness.  So, if you are from the military or emergency service’s, perhaps this book can help you combat the feelings of isolation and fear that frequently comes with post-traumatic stress disorder. Sometimes, just knowing that there are others out there, just like you, can provide you with the strength and courage to speak up and or get the help you need. The intention of this book is to help with that…. You’re not alone.

Also, Lemonade Stand: Vol III was written to help combat the stigma that often accompanies mental illness, best of all, it attempts to give all you served their countries and communities a voice… Which is amazing!

Order today

If you are struggling please go here for help: Crisis Services Canada

OR

Checkout our Mental Health Resources Page

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I ignored the signs of mental illness.

ignored the signs of mental illness.

A message for all my fire service colleagues and you too. IF you’ve ignored the signs of mental illness., it could spell trouble down the road.

In my last post, I came alive at thirty-five, I wrote about my life long struggles. To be more specific, for most of my life I ignored the signs of mental illness.

A real hearo is one who is brave enough to also save themselves.

Jonathan Arenburg.

What I learned from this was that the ancient practice of “manning up” is a mythical concept. While it may not actually be a thing, I can’t help but wonder just how much damage it has done.

Unfortunately for me, I would learn this lesson in a retrospective way. In other words, it wasn’t until the mental dam holding it back burst, sending me off work. This began my journey down the road to mental wellness.

at the time, I thought it would all work out in the end.

On the plus side, I would not stay home in waste away because I still had the fire department. As it would turn out, the department would be a double-edged sword. Why? Well, that’s a great question; the simple answer is that it sealed my traumatic fate.

Listen to other’s mental health journies at A New Dawn podcast.

Don’t get me wrong, for those times I was off work it helped immensely. It did so by providing me with structure and fuelling my sense of purpose. A wonderful thing as it kept me from going deeper within the recesses of my mind. This I will always be grateful for.

emergency service trauma slowly builds up, until BAM!

While this may be true, what’s equally true, sadly, is this; Durning my years in the fire service, I began to feel the slow yet steady poison of post-traumatic stress disorder, making a case that it developed because I ignored the signs of mental illness. Right from the start, I ignored the signs of mental illness.

This increasingly numbing feeling accompanied me on every call, making me a bit more ill every time; it was bad and I foolishly believed that denial was or would eventually be the cure. Although I know now that manning up is equivalent to trying to cure heart disease with bacon. However, at the time, I thought it would all work out in the end. If I had to be honest, the thought of showing “weakness” around the guys was my real motivator to keep pushing through.

How to recognze the early signs of PTSD

I ignored the signs of mental illness.
A real hearo is one who is wise enough to also save himself

Yup, thinking back on it, it seems kinda stupid to have subjected myself to situations that were causing me mental injuries. Equally, dumb was holding it down even though I knew it was bad for me. I think so; too bad I came to this conclusion afterwards.

I’ll be ok” may be true or it may be precursors to mental injury.

Perhaps the best analogy I have come up with is this; PTSD is like carbon monoxide; its orderless, tasteless and cannot otherwise be detected. It does its damage by slowly building up in the body. Similarly, the symptoms of emergency service trauma slowly build up until BAM!

Picture this, one day you find yourself inexplicably yelling at your boss and co-workers or you end up on a scene feeling so numb and disconnected it feels like your walking through molasses.

Sound familiar? If so, maybe it’s time that you take a look at your situation? Man up and look after you? Take it from me, you do NOT want this getting out of hand. The key is early intervention my friends. Because I ignored the signs of mental illness, I was slowly poisoned with my fear of being less than a man and as a consequence, I fell victim to the power of PTSD.

Looking for a place to start? #Firstrespndersfirst may be able to help.

So, please, if you feel this maybe you, get help. Pride and denial will never act as cures. Nor will the statement; “I’ll be ok.” While for some this may be true, for others, it may be precursors to a mental

In crisis? Call 1.833.456.4566 | Text 45645 (Crisis Services Canada) Crisis Services Canada

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

Contact us: The Road To Mental Wellness

Hang in, there is hope.
For those with PTSD, sleep can be their enemy; plagued by a …
Don’t let your illness define you
It was pointed out to me that we are more than our …
From fear to courage
We in the services go from fear to courage. If we didn't …
Today is your day
Yesterday, you found yourself too heavy to get on with the day. …
When the fog rolls in

When The Fog Rolls In

If you happen to be in touch with your mental illness(s), you know when a storm is brewing. A mental health storm, at least from my experience, has a certain familiarity to them. You just know when the fog rolls in that it may decide to hold you captive.

In my case, I can tell you exactly when my PTSD has acquired enough strength to highjack my wellness. While it may be true that I am often oblivious to the cause, even still, I attribute its source to a forgotten nightmare. Why? Because its symptoms often set in after I wake.

It is under these circumstances when I feel it’s often too late to prevent a full-blown traumatic episode.

All I do know is that when the fog rolls in, its near impossible to mount a defence. This of course, isn’t every time but when it’s especially thick, often, my only option is to hunker down and wait it out.

Not surprisingly, my major PTSD episodes start out with a consistent feeling. A feeling of dread that lingers off in the distance when I first wake. I find it very similar to when I was staring face to face with a traumatic incident; leading me to believe that something dreadful followed me back into this reality.

Full list of PTSD symptoms.

It is for this reason that I feel forgotten nightmares are responsible. I have reached this conclusion because more often than not, it comes for me in my slumber.

It is under these circumstances when I feel it’s often too late to prevent a full-blown traumatic episode; as the fog rolls in, no amount of mindfulness can fight it off. Similarly, I find any other form of therapy ineffective.

Want to read the perspective of another mental health blogger? Go to Encourage Green

Needless to say, trying to navigate my way through this heavy brain fog is difficult at best and completely impossible at worst. Ironically, it’s the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder themselves that are to blame.

Need help? check out our mental health resources page here

With these symptoms, there seems to be a sequence to them. They are as follows:

  1. A deep sense of dread upon awakening (whether I remember the nightmare or not).
  2. Level 10 brain fog.
  3. An increase of my fight, flight or freeze response.
  4. Thus, turning up the dial of my startle response.
  5. Easily irritated or angered.
  6. Find everything overwhelming.
When the fog rolls in

So, if you were to ask me which PTSD symptom is the most difficult, I would say, in short, all of them. However, with that said, being easily overwhelmed and the inherent startle response, is, without a doubt the ones that put me out of commission.

So, what’s the remedy?

The only thing I can offer in the way of advice if you go through something similar is to do nothing. Moreover, learn to be ok with that.

Despite what we think, we are human, not superhuman and because of that, we must learn to understand PTSD, depression, anxiety and many other mental health conditions are going to win a battle every now and then; that my friend is a fact.

Ask yourself this; Can I have a day here and there to just ride the wave? I’m happy to say that it works for me and it too can work for you. In my case, It’s effective because I feel zero guilt and not an ounce of shame. I’m sick and I’m done pretending otherwise.

Ways to be self-compassionate

I truly hope that the next time the fog rolls in that you will be kind to yourself. The storm will pass and as long as you’re not running away from it every day; riding it out can be the best thing for your mental health.

In crisis? Call 1.833.456.4566 | Text 45645 (Crisis Services Canada) Crisis Services Canada

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

Contact us: The Road To Mental Wellness