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When things went south, I was ill-prepared to cope.Tweet
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 yes, 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 affect your destiny only so much. After that, the wild card called “life” gets played.
In my case, the wild card 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 use only 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 with people with severe behavioural difficulties; turns out that this occupation also is 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, and 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, and still helped others, just in a more personally 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.
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 services, perhaps this book can help you combat the feelings of isolation and fear that frequently come 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 who served their countries and communities a voice… Which is amazing!
If you are struggling please go here for help: Crisis Services Canada
Contact me on my Facebook page: The Road To Mental Wellness