If I am honest

If I am honest, my old identity was killing me.

Jonathan Arenburg
Jonathan Arenburg

Jonathan is a mental health blogger, published author, and speaker. He has appeared in numerous newspapers and has been a guest on many podcasts.

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Today, I find it imperative that I am honest with all of you, myself included. My confession? Most times, I feel nothing. In fact, I feel so little at times that if it could be measured by a heart monitor, you’d see a flat line. Of course, my affect is not completely dead. I know this because every once in a while, there will be the occasional “beep” representing moments where I feel a moment of happy.

However, there is no device that can accurately display my truth – a truth that mental illness, specifically depression, does hold me hostage more often than I’d like. Despite this, if I am honest with you once more, depression’s mindset is designed to force me into isolation. While this isolation seems like it is of my own accord, it is, truthfully, not. I am being honest because I know in my heart, I would rather live in the sunshine than hide in the darkness. I mean, who wouldn’t? Therefore, I want to confront this demon.

This urge to hide from the world is, without question, PTSD. Oh, how I absolutely loathe to see another life lost needlessly. Therefore, it seems safest to avoid all the potentials that lie beyond my front door. It’s pretty heavy stuff.

But it’s more than that. Many people who suffer from trauma also have major depressive disorder. I am, unfortunately, one of these people. Let me tell ya, the two together make for the perfect mental storm. Their potential to do damage is enormous.

What it’s like having major depressive disorder.

If I am honest with myself, I have to admit I hate this. I really, really do. However, like many things that have been laid at my feet, I must do what I have to. This includes, whether I like it or not, allowing these two disorders to run their course at times. Especially when super-symptomatic.

If all this is new to you, if you have been recently diagnosed, hang in there. Let me tell ya, honestly, it’s best to accept what lies before you, too. Think of it – now that you know – that you can research and rebuild a life that accommodates your illnesses.

I know, my friend. it feels like you are being robbed of your identity. If you’ve followed a similar path as me, a massive amount of who you are was defined by helping others. This personality type is hard to untangle oneself from, but does one really have to? I argue that the answer is no.

Front and back cover of the road to mental wellness - 8 sings your relationship is hurting your mental health.
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Let me give it to you straight

Thankfully, the skills of a helper are fixable and very transferable. Honestly, there are endless ways to make a difference. When I could no longer work because of my mental health conditions, I decided to tackle it head on and start anew.

Once again, if I am being honest, I had to go through the pain of losing who I was. I was a firefighter, a health-care worker, and that’s all I knew, all I wanted to be. But…I can’t be those things anymore, ever again…

Finally, after so many years, I have come to terms with my partial loss of identity. If I’m honest about it, I am glad those days are behind me. Why, you ask? Well, simply because what I loved so dearly and identified with so strongly, destroyed me. That by definition would be considered toxic in any other type of scenario, am I right?

If it’s true that it was toxic for me, then why would I want to go back? Even though I have no clear direction at the moment, I have this: firstly, I have the opportunity to heal from the life that brought me so much mental pain and secondly, my life is a blank slate and thus full of opportunity. This is both scary and exciting and as I heal, I will fulfill my passion to help.

With all that said, like the book I co-authored, Lemonade Stand Vol. III, says; “When you’re handed lemons, you make lemonade.” So, that’s exactly what I have set out to do. During these most turbulent times in my life, I am finding the new me. As a helper at my core, I have dedicated my time to helping others by telling my story.

Rebuilding your life when mentally ill.

This blog, The Road To Mental Wellness is now part of the new me – my new identity, if you will. From the feedback I have received since starting this venture, I can say that I am achieving the goals I have set out to accomplish. I want to continue to help others while at the same time, find some therapeutic benefit too. Writing and advocating has been an amazing way to accomplish this.

At the end of the day, we get to choose where we put our energy, even if it’s not as robust and in a way we once knew. So then, how are you going to reclaim your own life? The possibilities really are yours for the exploring.

Check out one of my favourite mental health non-profits, fighting the battle against stigma; Sick Not Weak

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Jonathan Arenburg

Jonathan Arenburg is a mental health blogger, S speaker, writer, and published author; He is also the host of the mental wellness podcast, #thewellnesstalksHe has also appeared in the i'Mpossible's Lemonade Stand III. He has also been a contributing writer for Mental health talk, a column in his local paper. In addition, he has also 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, 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 new book (2021), “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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