Year of recovery

My success will be slow and incremental, my wellness dependent on the actions I take. Therefore, if I want 2022 to be my year of recovery, I must understand that I’m not the person I used to be.

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Well, hello 2022! And good riddance to 2021. I don’t know about you, but I have never been so glad to have a year behind me – ever!

What I find amazing about the first day of a new year is the possibilities that lie ahead of it. “Maybe this will be the year my mental health does a 180 and I find my way back to the land of the living.”

What’s equally exciting for me is the possibility that it could be your year of recovery too. Before you say, “No, it won’t be,” I think the truth is, that you, we, don’t know that. Rather, the question should be, “What do I have to do to feel better? What can I do to make this year better than the last?” As I often say, you may not be able to change the cards you’ve been dealt, but you have no excuse not to try.

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You see, the great thing about effort is that it’s always in your control. And before you tell me that it can’t be done because of your depression, let me say: yes, there are moments where you can’t, that’s true. And secondly, you can set limits with mental-illness episodes. Don’t believe me? Well, what if I told you that you can customize your success? “How?” you ask. Well, you can start to redefine what your definition of success is. Instead of being overcome completely by depression, set a limit of a few “down” days. From there, move to a new task as tolerated. No matter how tiny the task, it’s action and thus progress.

Read Depression’s mindset

Let me preface this by saying that your idea of what it means to be successful is probably not your own. Instead, it’s far more likely to be someone else’s. The sad reality for many is that they fall for the templated life trajectory that has been laid at their feet. “You need to get good grades, go to college and get your house and family started.” However, is this really for you? For everybody? My thoughts are that no, they are in fact not.

With that said, this idea of a picket fence and happily-ever-after is not the only narrative we blindly follow. Far from it. Frankly, there are many. The one I dislike most? The idea that we must go full-tilt with work and/or being busy. Moreover, the badge of honor many wear for working in access: “I work eighty hours a week and come in to do overtime.”

What’s worse is the saying “Nobody wants to work anymore.” An older arrive that is in reality, an oversimplification. I mean honestly, who wants to kill themselves working for low wages, little benefits and crap conditions? Maybe people aren’t lazy; maybe they are waking up to the wage gap/treat-me-like-crap phenomenon that has the wealthy taking home the majority of the earnings.

People with disabilities are lazy???? I think not!

Our distorted view on the value of work is not only wearing out our bodies, but also havoc on our minds. More specifically, our mental health. Burnout, depression, and anxiety are just a few examples of mental illness that creep up on us from being a “hard worker.”

You need not look any further than someone disabled by work to find out its true worth. For example, I acquired The Mental-Health Work Injury PTSD from years of working seven days a week and volunteering as a firefighter for countless hours – all on top of work. Do I wish I would have lived a little? Absolutely!

In retrospect, I would have done things differently. As my psychologist once said, “Your love for loving work is why you’re in front of me today.” Hard to argue with that.

Now, in 2022, I remain fighting for doing what I thought I should: raise a family, never see them, and work my ass off to provide for them. Despite my predicament, I have learned some valuable lessons.

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Chief among them is that sucess is measured not in the amount of damage one can do to their mind, body, and spirit, but rather, it’s what they do to prevent them and/or customize their life after falling ill.

I, Jonathan Arenburg, being disabled because of my poor mental health, must accept that success must align with my tolerance. This low level of tolerance is not my fault; nor is it something I should feel shame for. I know I can no longer work like I once could, and that’s okay.

Make this year of recovery

In conclusion, my success will be slow and incremental, my wellness, dependent on the actions I take. Therefore, if I want 2022 to be my year of recovery, I must understand that I’m not the person I used to be.

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Year of recovery

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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