Taking on the world.

Think there’s only one way to make a difference? Think taking on the world all at once is the best way to help others? Maybe there is a way that you can help – and keep yourself mentally healthy.

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The wildfire that is mental illness is rapidly spreading to every corner of our world – this is not good. Even more troubling is the lack of investment in mental health professionals to head off the crisis. I guess it’s a world where compassion, like so many other things, is an endangered species.

With that said, we must work hard – even if that means all we’ve got in our toolbox is advocation. In my current mental predicament, advocating for others is all I can do. And I am okay with that.

Actually, it’s been great! I have had the privilege of working with so many people, from all over the world. Although I have been struggling and working on solutions to better my life, I am also here for others. From Nigeria to Ohio, I have met some amazing people.

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Despite my own war within, I can’t stand by and watch people suffer. I believe we all have an obligation to ease the suffering of others. This, my friends, can sponsor unity.

In fact, those who know me well have had to endure me rant about helping the world. I often point out that it’s better to help one person at a time. Fundamentally, it goes a little like this: taking on the entire world is just too much. In reality, many who chose this route often end up sick themselves. When this happens, we have yet another mentally-ill individual – and from there the cycle continues.

While it’s true many people burn out taking on every injustice thriving somewhere on the globe, it’s still noble. Therefore, I am not and never will suggest that going after the “sources” of said problems shouldn’t happen; that would be wrong. However, what I am saying is, it’s far from our only options.

Shut Up and Listen.

TRTMW book cover
Taking on the world. When I went off work because of PTSD, I was left in limbo while I waited to see if I would be awarded Workers Compensation. It was long and painful, hanging in the darkness of my home.
So, I began to try and figure out this PTSD thing; how did I get here? I was a firefighter, so I knew that much but my battled with anxiety and depression was a life-long battle.

I began to write out my story, mostly to help quell the angst of being lonely and in mental illness purgatory. It helped – immensely. I survived the dark because of it.

Now, it’s here – written for therapeutic intervention and published in hopes that it can do the same for you or someone you know…..

“you’re not alone on your Road To Mental Wellness.”

Read the post that started it all The Road To Mental Wellness

While it may feel like you can’t make a difference on a “little guy” level, this is simply not true. After trying my hand at both, I have learned that simply making someone’s day can have significantly positive outcome.

Let me make my case.

Some years back, I had made a conscious decision to pay attention to my surroundings. More specifically, to those around me. While I’m sure this has had more than one person wondering what I am doing, I assure you, my intentions are good. Aww, science.

What lit this idea on fire was my interest in classism. Specially, people who are considered “less than” because of their occupation. Despite knowing that social hierarchies have been with us before recorded time, I do feel that its modern version is both pathological and cruel.

My head on a swivel and after spending countless hours on to the subject, I learned a lot. From there, I tried to marry my findings with how elitism can be taken down a peg or two.

Firstly, I asked myself this: can I find this brand of inequality in the microcosm of my workplace? Hence, the decision to observe the people in the environment around me.

My findings

So, what did I learn? Well, my workplace ended up being a good place to conduct this social experiment. My work was in long-term care and in this field, there are multiple levels and several different departments. Perfect!

I was frontline staff, tasked with assisting the residents with their daily living. So, not exactly on the bottom rung of the place, but we were far from the top. The facility I work at had a CEO at the top; management was next, followed by the administration/clerical staff, and us. The nursing staff. And….. At the bottom? The environmental/food services folks.

Not surprisingly, the environmental staff/dietary – those tasked with keeping the place clean, the clients fed, and the laundry done – were perceived as the bottom of the pecking order. While this was the prevailing feeling for many, it was a notion I hated. Why? Because support staff are arguably the most essential employees in any health-care building. Have your doubts? See how long a place stays open if left to fall victim to dirt and potential disease. (I’m thinking of you, COVID).

But at the end of the day, those in these highly under-appreciated departments are just as human as you and me, and for that matter, the richest of the rich.

Looking for mental health resources? Go to our MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES PAGE

Despite this being a fact, many of those in my department and above, would walk by all of those working to give our residents a wonderful place to live without so much as looking at them. People like this both angered and saddened me. No one, no matter their function, deserves that. Heck, there were several people on the support staff who had more education than those in my department.

My findings? There was, without question, an unwritten hierarchy. For starters, the CEO and upper management had their own parking spots. A bit much I thought, considering the organization is owned by the government and is a non-profit. I mean, why? Just because they “ran the place.” That, at least in my mind is up for debate. Rather, I tend to see the place “running” because of everyone’s arduous work. I guess we are just so conditioned towards classism.

So, what the heck am I talking about?

I know, what does this long-winded rant have to do with helping others one on one? Well, remember the environmental staff and my desire to observe the goings-on? Indeed, I noticed this total disregard for their work and for them as people. So, I decided that I would go out of my way to tell them things like, “You’re doing amazing job…the place looks great!” Also, I would say, ” This place couldn’t run without you.” This was nothing more than the truth, yet making sure they knew they were valued, made their day.

Front and back cover of the road to mental wellness - 8 sings your relationship is hurting your mental health.
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And, that my friends, is just one way you can make a difference in the world without taking on the world. Who knows? That person you go out of your way to acknowledge that, just might have been given enough kindness for them to decide that their life is worth living.

Trust me. YOU can make a difference. Please be kind…..

Taking on the world.

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.

2 thoughts on “Taking on the world.

  1. Great article Jonathan and I agree. It is important to give credit where credit is due. Thanks for following my blog and liking some of my posts but be sure to visit and read the stories of my mental illness episodes. Most people can’t believe what has happened as I am a pretty sensible person otherwise. Crazy Train and Locked Up in DC are worth a peak. Looking forward to your response. MMV

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