Hang in, there is hope.

Hang in, there is hope.

For those with PTSD, sleep can be their enemy; plagued by a past, one that steps into their dreamland and tears through it like a tornado. Hang in, there is hope.

While there is some sort of expectation that I will remember the nightmares from my attempts at slumber, this is simply not the case. What it does is bring me back to the realm of the woken world is an intense, heavy feeling that denies me a great night’s sleep. This, of course, rejuvenates PTSD’s other life interrupting symptoms. There is hope!

The eyes deceive us, for the only know what’s in front of them.

While my past traumatic events follow me around like some lost demon puppy, there is an upside. I know, you’re thinking; Whaaat! but hear me out. First off, trauma sucks, always… But I am grateful that I experience a reprieve from its torture. I am glad to have those good days and sometimes, great weeks.

Now, with that said, I find this dastardly bastard has its hands wrapped around what was a long period of peace, systematically throwing me back into a terrifying yet familiar place.

Hang in, there is hope.

Luckly, I am a keen observer and can sort of tell when my memories of rendering aid to others in my fire service days, is slowly boiling its way to the surface. I gues the best way to communicate this to the outside of the mental illness world, is like this:

Listen to more mental health related stories at Men Are Nuts podcast

In modern times, we know when there’s a huge storm heading our way. And while it may be wreaking havoc hundreds of miles away, we still are, at least, cognitively aware that it is coming.

However, to look outside your window, you would never know. Perhaps where you are is sunny with blue skies dominating over your head. For, me, I think to myself; “It’s hard to believe that there is a storm heading our way.” Visually, the eyes deceive us, for the only know what’s in front of them.

However, as the storm gets closer, we start to see suttle changes; the blue sky is colored in by an ever-darkening shade of grey and a breeze is now detectable upon our face. And as the storm draws closer, so too does our anxiety intensify; until finally the storm has descended down on us.

A storm, it is a brewin

This real-world occurrence perfectly describes the mental health storm that slowly bares down on me at times. It does so in the following ways:

  1. Firstly, I start off with the most beautiful of days; I feel so good in fact, I almost feel cured.
  2. Then though, as time passes and as I encounter the busyness of the world, I start to feel the storm blowing in; slowly but surely.
  3. As my anxiety rises from the impending storm, I feel my startle response become heightened to the degree where every sudden movement, ever little noise, brings me out of my chair. It’s usually at this juncture that the flashbacks occur. (the storm is moving in).
  4. Finally, nightmares, little sleep, and a very low tolerance for any sort of interaction ensues; this is the hight of the PTSD storm and the point where I seek safety, my bedroom. At this point, the only thing I can do is hunker diwn and wait for the storm to pass.

Looking for help? Go to our Mental Health Resources Page

The take away? Well, I have learned a lot by having this sort of ebb and flow or up and down if you will. As a result, I now know that, like storms in real life, mental health storms pass aswell.

While this may be true, it certainly doesn’t feel that way when you’re encountering the full force of post-traumatic stress disorder. What I try to do is keep in mind that I have ALWAYS weathered the storm.

So, with a survival rate of a hundred percent, I can say that I am doing awesome; I am happy to be here to have written this. Similarly, if you are reading this, then you also have a hundred precent survival success rate, I’m so happy that you’re here; Hang in, there is hope.

Like what you read? Then the book I help write as a contributing author may be for you:

Lemonade-III-Front
20 stories of those from Military and or emergency services.
pre order today!

About the Book

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 their 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!

PRE ORDER TODAY AT

Lemonade Stand Vol. III on The Road To Mental Wellness.

This too shall pass.

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If you are struggling please go here: Crisis Services Canada

Want help fund my book? donate: GOFundMe – The Road To Mental Wellness – The book

You may also enjoy: The Mental Health Work Injury Called PTSD

Contact me on my Facebook page: facebook.com/TRTMW

Doing it wrong wrong for so long

Robbed Me Of My Joy

While I did my best to fight it, PTSD still robbed me of my joy.

Well, I’ve finally done it, I am now a published author; a goal that I’ve had since I started blogging with The Road To Mental Wellness two years ago. While it feels good to have something off my bucket list, unfortunately, the joy would be short-lived.

But John, shouldn’t you be happy? Well, normally, yes and at first I was over the moon. But as fate would have it, my PTSD would end up enslaving me deep inside myself; a dark place that always numbs me with indifference. Sadly, the book pre order excitement would meet my mental health condition at the intersection of my life.

While it may be difficult for the mentally well to understand, it, nonetheless, is a reality. For me; I’m sure many other suffers too, it’s not what we want, nor is it a choice we would have eagerly requested; yet here we are.

I Am constantly exhausted and sleeping…. allot.

I mean, who would want to be robbed of the joy that comes with accomplishment? You can call it what you will, I know it’s the potent combination of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, robbing my of my joy.

The damage.

Of course, with anything in life, I faced consequences for such a combination. There’s the obvious downer, which is being robbed of the joy, in this case, realizing a dream of being a published author; but there are others. Take my personal life for instance; PTSD takes me out and makes me a passive observer in my own story, I know, shitty right?

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.

This scenario is pretty much where I am at now and for the last three or four days, I have sought refuge from the world in the safety of my bedroom; only lasting long enough outside its realm to promote the book and watch a bit of TV.

Robbed me of my joy.

But what’s worse, is that this round of illness feels different for me and asking me to come up with an answer will yield an “I don’t know”. What I do know is that I am short-tempered and nasty, level ten nasty. If that weren’t enough, I am constantly exhausted and sleeping…. allot.

Personally, what’s most problematic for me is the unintentional burnt that my family has to bare because of it; I whish I could do better, someday I shall.

Checkout my first ever book publication; a project that I was a collaborator on; called Lemonade Stand III; It’s available for pre order today!

To read details about the book… go to The Road To Mental Wellness landing page, click here:

There is something that keeps me going.

When I stop to reflect on this experience, even now, as I fight my way through it, I find myself embracing what I am able to accomplish. Despite being a recluse, even in my own home, I was still able to promote the book Lemonade Stand Vol. III. This, I can be grateful for and use it as a catalyst to move forward even though PTSD has robbed me of my joy, which I shall overcome.

If you are struggling please go here: Crisis Services Canada

Want help fund my book? Donate: GOFundMe – The Road To Mental Wellness – The book

You may also enjoy: The Mental Health Work Injury Called PTSD

Contact me on my Facebook page: facebook.com/TRTMW

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Order Lemonade Stand VOL. III Today!

pre-order today!

Storytelling will Save the World… Yes, Even Yours

Captain’s log, Stardate January 2011. Where unfortunately many have gone before. I’m twenty-six years old and thinking about dying… actually I’m not being entirely truthful. I’m dangling halfway out the fourth floor window of my bedroom in New York City.

I don’t really want to die. I just want the emotional pain to stop… and I don’t know how to do that. Hell, two guys in my life—my father and grandfather—each didn’t know how to make their own terrible personal pain stop and now both were, well, dead.

But instead, “perfect” was unattainable (it always is).

My grandfather, Haakon—a Norwegian guy who served in the Royal Air Force (35th Squadron as a tail gunner) in World War II—killed himself in 1966 because of the overwhelming post-traumatic stress he suffered because of the war.

My father, Douglas—an American guy who was chronically unhappy and an abusive man—killed himself in 2009, the catalyst being a divorce with my mother along with some long-term depression and other mental health issues.

How did I get to such a dismal place in my life so quickly, just shy of my twenty-seventh birthday? Coming out of high school and high on optimism, I thought by the time I reached my mid-twenties I’d have it all together. After a couple of years singing on Broadway, I would have scored a few bit parts on Law & Order and transitioned seamlessly to being cast with Will Smith in the summer’s biggest blockbuster. After which, my getaway home in the Hamptons would be featured in Better Homes & Gardens, and my face would grace the cover of National Enquirer as Bigfoot’s not-so-secret lover. Not to mention, I’d have my perfect wife and perfect family by my side to share in my success.

But instead, “perfect” was unattainable (it always is). I only managed to perform in some of small and medium sized professional theatre gigs and on one embarrassing reality television show; and over the course of the previous eighteen months my father killed himself, my mother betrayed me and sued me for my father’s inheritance, and my girlfriend of six years broke up with me.

I had to figure out a way to reach people like that.

This storm of calamity and crisis had ravaged my life… and I wasn’t talking about it to anyone. My silence led to crisis and poor decisions—to the extent that I was hanging out of a fourth story window.

Both Haakon and Douglas suffered their pain in silence because of the stigma surrounding talking about mental illness and getting help. I too felt that same stigma—like I’d be seen as “crazy” or “less of a man” if I talked about what I was going through. But I didn’t want to die and so I had to take a chance.

I started talking. I pulled myself back inside and first called my mom. She helped me through that initial crisis and we became friends again. She never called me “crazy.” I then started reaching out to the positive friends I had in my life. They hugged me and helped me with open arms. They never told me I was “less than a man.” Soon I got more help by seeing a professional counselor, and by writing down what I was going through in a journal.

But this idea of keeping silent continued to bother me. I did some research while in my recovery and found out that each year, suicide kills over one million people worldwide… and that many of those one million never speak up about their emotional pain because of stigma.

The i’mpossible project.

I had to figure out a way to reach people like that. So, like any other actor, writer, or comedian living in New York City whose life dealt them a crappy hand, I created a one-man show (the love child of stand-up comedy and traditional theatre) … and it toured theatres and universities in the United States, Canada, England, and Australia—and people were getting help.

But I had to keep talking because this isn’t just a Rivedal problem or United States problem… it’s a world problem.

No matter what society says, it’s COOL (as in “okay”) to tell your story.

I had to get other people to tell their stories, so I started The i’Mpossible Project. Why? Because storytelling is one of our oldest traditions. Stories can make us laugh or cry… or both at the same time. They can teach, inspire and even ignite an entire movement. 

The stories of The i’Mpossible Project are true tales from real people who have achieved incredible feats in the face of overwhelming odds, showing that impossible is just a state of mind—and that anything is possible. In Lemonade Stand: Vol. III we have first responders, emergency service personnel, and military members who have faced the elements every day to protect us and keep us safe. These real life superheroes had to deal with the mental pain of PTSD, anxiety, and depression; and then push past the stigma of asking for and receiving help (you can read a couple of the stories HERE). They show us it’s okay to be struggling, it’s okay to need help; people have your back… there’s hope.

It’s been nine years since my own crisis and life is definitely looking up. The writing and being creative thing is going well, I have an incredible and massive support system; but most importantly I’m able to give and receive help and love, and with hard work I’m able to stay mentally well—all because I took a risk and told my story.

His mental health based curriculum, Changing Minds, combines lecture, group discussion, storytelling, and improv theatre.

No matter what society says, it’s COOL (as in “okay”) to tell your story. Don’t ever forget that you are important, and your story needs to be heard so we, the human race, can learn how to live and love better. #iampossible 

* * * 

You can pre-order a copy of the new The i’Mpossible Project book at www.iampossibleproject.com/preorder

* * *

Josh
Josh Rivedal – founder of the i’Mpossible Poject and creator of the Lemonade Stand series.

Josh Rivedal (founder, executive director of The i’Mpossible Project) is an author, actor, playwright, and international public speaker on suicide prevention, mental health, and diversity. He curated the inspirational anthology series The i’Mpossible Project of which there are currently five books. He wrote and developed the one-man play, Kicking My Blue Genes in The Butt (KMBB), which has toured extensively throughout the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. He writes for the Huffington Post. He is a co-author of three journal papers; one on the trajectory of the survivor of suicide loss, another on the art of living with chronic illness, the third on surviving trauma. His mental health based curriculum, Changing Minds, combines lecture, group discussion, storytelling, and improv theatre.

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