When Mental Illness Catches Up

As of late, my depressive and traumatic episodes have been really intense. Even so, when mental illness catches up, I know it’s only temporary.

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Now that I have logged some serious time in psychotherapy, I can take time to review how far I have come or haven’t. While I choose to focus on my hard work and progress, I do look at both. Why? Well, if I don’t, how will I evaluate how therapy is helping me overall? My trick here is to not ruminate on what’s not working and celebrate my gains.

One of the major accomplishments is being able to cope, most of the time; in low- stimulus environments. I achieve this through the use of mindfulness. I can keep going as long as the noise and environment aren’t constantly buzzing with activity. This is of course assuming that I’m having a good day to begin with. It doesn’t always work, but it often does. The key here is “It often does.”

The Way I Deal With Pain

However, lately, I feel like I am losing the war. I am way more agitated than, well, ever. And if that weren’t enough, my depressive episodes are more severe -not good! But am I really losing, or is this what happens when mental illness catches up?

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For me, this is also another benefit of therapy. I have learned that, while I may be experiencing more intense episodes, they are but momentary; they will subside. And it’s true, when mental illness catches up with me, I have always been able to overcome. How? Through the power of acknowledgement. “Okay, so I’m having a really rough go; just give yourself permission to say I am.” Then the next question becomes “Practice your mindfulness skills. Close your eyes, breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth; make yourself aware of where you feel tight in your body, loosen up.” I know that I am not under any real threat, but my body thinks I am, so I call attention to both my mental feeling in the moment and my physical discomfort from it.

So, remember, when mental illness catches up, try not to feel like you failed. Rather, admit to yourself that it is happening, and use coping skills like mindfulness to manage your way through it.

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Jonathan Arenburg

Jonathan Reginald-Nixon Arenburg (Born January 14, 1976) is a Canadian mental health blogger, speaker, and published author. Retired from the fire service and long-term care fields, he has written and self-published an autobiographical account of his life-long battle with anxiety, depression and more recently, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Titled, The Road To Mental Wellness, he wrote it for what he calls “therapeutic release.” He published it in hopes it would help others going through similar mental health conditions. The sales of The Road To Mental Wellness have been steady selling over 300 copies since its release on October 10, 2021(World Mental Health Day). Arenburg has also been involved in a collaborative publication Called Lemonade Stand Volume III, a book featuring 20 authors who bravely tell their stories of PTSD. All authors where from the military and or emergency services. Published by Joshua Rivedal and Kathleen Myers for the i’Mpossible project, a mental health advocacy organization. Jonathan has also appeared on several mental health podcasts including The Depression Files, A New Dawn, and The Above Ground Podcast Arenburg has also consulted with the Government of Nova Scotia and the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, the Honorable Brian Comer and Candidates for the New Democratic Party of Canada, on improving the mental health care system in Canada. Additionally, Jonathan was recognized in The Nova Scotia Legislature by the Honorable, Chris Palmer, Kings-North MLA, for his Book, The Road To Mental Wellness, his fight to make the mental health care system better. In addition, Chis acknowledged the support he gives to others.

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