when things went south.

When Things Went South

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Like many, I never gave too much thought to my life veering off course; Afterall, 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, life long 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 empath. 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.

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, its 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.

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Jonathan Arenburg

I am a mental health advocate and mental health blogger. I Have my own battles with mental illness and want to share my story. "Telling my story of my mental wellness journey, hoping that it will help others along the way."

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