The Guilt of the Living

What the guilt of the living are missing in the equation is the fact that we need connection – all of us.

Don’t judge me. While I may only be 46 years old, I’ve lived an entire life. And despite not being able to work any longer, I’m still a human being – I am still worth something. Yet despite this, I feel as though the world is judging me. And in some instances, there have been those who have; condemning me for what they see, me sitting on my ass.

What those who choose to judge me don’t see, is the entire lifetime of violence, death and destruction, physical, verbal and sexual assaults that have taken place over the last two and a half decades of my life. Not to mention losing everything I have more than once.

Like so many of my kin in the emergency services, I’ve paid a price for my service. Essentially, I sacrificed my mental well-being so that those around me may live a better life – or at least did my best to minimize other people’s pain

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Whether that be on the fireground or sitting with a dying client, I did my best to ease the suffering over those who came face-to-face with tragic circumstance. I mean, don’t we all deserve that much? I’ve always held the belief that our job here on earth is to make the world a better place. This was a principle I spent my entire adult life living by. On top of all that, I have done my best to help others by sitting down one on one, listening.

But let’s be honest. Many of us who endeavour to try to stop wounds from bleeding and mental pain from festering, do so because of our own pain. So, in that sense, I guess it’s being done for selfish reasons…?

Or perhaps it’s not selfishness that compels us, but rather, a desire to effect more peace upon the world. Whatever the case, I don’t regret a single moment. Despite my own mental-health decline as a result of it all, I see it as a privilege.

In fact, it has been so woven into the fabric of my being, that I literally can’t see any other way to be. However, trying to make the world a better place when you’re suffering with PTSD is difficult, to say the least.

So here I am, I’m fortunate enough to have a home to call my own, and that much I am grateful for. Yet, the rooms seem hollow and with the exception of my own breath, it’s lifeless. Please don’t get me wrong, I require solitude. But with most things in life, there are good and bad aspects. To be clear, when depression speaks, it doesn’t diminish my gratitude. Therefore, I need people to understand that one can still feel this way and be happy for what one has. Sometimes its simply the guilt of the living

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Yes, my life took an unexpected turn, and yes, I am aware that PTSD is a serious mental illness. One that can’t be cured overnight – but damn, I feel useless. And as if that weren’t enough, the world has laid mental illness at the tip of its tongue, but there it remains. Like a word or name that just can’t be recalled.

As far as I can tell, the only ones concerned for the sufferers are the sufferers themselves. Not a good plan, considering all of us know someone who is ill.

So, I guess the world will judge me, and it will see me as a broken man; a man with nothing to offer. With the exception of this blog and maybe my book. Hey, at least I’ve left a legacy.

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

The Guilt of the Living – copyright 2022

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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