In Our Darkest Hours

In our darkest hours, we can work our way towards the light of wellness…

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Like many of you, I am no stranger to coming towards the end – hitting rock bottom and being in a place where all I could see was the darkness. However, as trying as those times may have been, I have been able to persevere each and every time. Looking back, I am proud of my accomplishments, despite that on the surface it looks like I have nothing.

But is this really true? Well, I suppose it depends on how one looks at their definition of accomplishment. While it is true, that many judge accomplishments based on what they have achieved monetarily, in my view, it is far from the only marker of success.

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Over the years, I’ve had to re-define what success means to me. And what have I concluded? That, because I am still alive, I have succeeded. I mean fundamentally, what could be more successful than beating back a mental-health condition, each and every day. When I add up all the close calls, I would say that still being here is an accomplishment… Wouldn’t you?

What’s interesting to me in terms of my own journey, is that when a challenge arises due to my mental health deteriorating, I try to find solutions. For instance, as of late, the idea of ending it feels great. While this is undoubtedly very worrisome for myself, I use it to gauge where I’m at and do my best to correct the course I’m on. Thank God for therapy.

How, may you ask? For me, it always goes back to the fundamentals. Forced social contact, exercise, good diet and so on. Essentially, I acknowledge that I feel that way, and then I work with all the tools I have at my disposal. These of course include mindfulness and practising gratitude.

What can you do to improve your mental health?

Our darkest hours don’t have to be a death sentence. Rather, we can build a bridge back to a better state with the tools that we can learn. For example, therapy will help. And if for some reason you feel that that is not helpful, find another therapist. You are your own advocate, and you must pursue the road to mental wellness in order to dig yourself out of your deepest, darkest ditch. I suggest that the further down the rabbit hole of a mental-health crisis hell you are, the louder you should holler for help.

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What else does being your own advocate look like? It looks like: taking on skill sets incrementally. In other words, exercise will help one feel better; however, slow, and steady will win the race. You will get there.

Develop the mindset that exercise is an essential medical tool to help you heal. In my journey, I have adopted this mindset, and thankfully it is taking all the social pressures off. For example, body image. I am doing this to survive, to feel better – not to be the next Arnold Schwarzenegger.

So, in our darkest hours, there are things that we can do. I know our mental pain feels like a mountain to climb, but healing is the equivalent of tiny baby steps. I feel this one fits more than any other analogy because it is slow, it is difficult and that’s exactly how it should be.


For if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this: there is a good and a bad type of uncomfortable. However, if we lump uncomfortable into only the category of “bad,” all feelings of being uncomfortable will feel “wrong.” Sadly, little progress can be made because avoidance becomes priority for even the uncomfortable, we need to deal with.

So, do whatever it takes to move forward. We all want our lives back.  However, this cannot be achieved if we wait for it to come to us. Quite the contrary. Mental illness is likely to continue to fester within us if we wait for change to happen. In order to experience joy in our lives we must put our heads down and tackle that uncomfortable feeling that comes with change, which comes with the fear of failure and that comes with self-improvement.

To end this blog post, I want to say that I believe in all of you and that this can be done. With incremental change, you will eventually make progress. Please, find your reasons to never give up. Push, pull, move forward!

If you are struggling, please go here for help: Talk Suicide Canada

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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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