Because I was never able to win the war with mental illness, I have learned to fight it from a disease management perspective.
Jonathan Arenburg (Owner and Chief content creator for The Road To Mental Wellness) 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).
We all know that there is no such thing as a perfect world, the perfect person, or perfect partner. Although many of us with trauma wish there were. Man, wouldn’t it be nice to have everything go off without a hitch, every time? To never experience conflict with your partner? What a dream that would be. I know if this were the case I’d be thriving! But alas, here I sit, wishing it were so.
However, for this to happen, I would need two things. For one thing, I would need everything to go my way – all of the time, and I’d need to be absolutely perfect for another. Since I’m not the type who wants to control everything and everyone around me, it’s up to me to customize my symptomatic life around everyone else. No easy feat let me tell you.
But it’s all I have at my disposal to try and live a life with a quality that produces some semblance of purpose. Luckly for me, I have accumulated a host of skill sets and coping mechanisms that allow me some peace and freedom. Primarily there’s therapy, a long-term mental health management system that keeps me moving down the road to mental wellness. While it has been a literal lifesaver, it’s far from the only tool I employ – Far from it. Here are but a few more:
Forced social contact: Intentionally making my friends and family a priority. Additionally, I must go and be amongst society so as not to isolate myself. This despite whether PTSD’s symptoms are strong, or depression is got a grip on me. However, I have learned my limits. If for example, I am jumpy and easily irritated during my social time, I know it’s time to go. I listen to my mind and body, and I do in fact leave.
Self-care – Rest and repeat. I go home and ensure my environment is a low stimulus one. Generally, I rest, reset, and then get myself back out there. Sometimes I lay down, put my earbuds in, and cover my eyes in an attempt to maximize a low arousal state. Something I wish I had done years ago. Often, it’s just what the doctor ordered.
Exercise: Because my mental health is hard to manage, I am by nature up and down, always in a continuous battle with mental illness. Thank God for exercise. This is indeed mother nature’s medication. And the great thing about it is – we can see benefits from any form of physical activity. From walking three days a week to lifting weights, the possibilities are endless. And so, you can find stuff that you love to keep you motivated. Personally, I don’t sweat it if I miss a day or two because of my golden boundary. Essentially, I commit myself to three days a week. Usually I ride my bike, day one, lift on day two and walk on day three. I should mention that this is my minimum. If I feel up to it, I do even more. Remember, it’s the uncomfortable zone we should strive for as it will keep us growing – physically and mentally.
- Beyond Self-Care: The Importance of Social Connection in Mental Wellness Delve into the world beyond self-care and discover the crucial role social connections play in maintaining mental wellness. Find the balance between personal self-care and creating nourishing relationships in your life.
- Social Fitness: The Key To Your Recovery Understand the pivotal role of social fitness in your recovery journey. This blog post illustrates how community and connection can accelerate healing and well-being.
- Self-care is Important But Be Aware: Self-care is undeniably important, but what happens when it goes overboard? Read this post to learn how to balance self-care practices with other aspects of life for a holistic approach to mental health.
- Self-love – It Matters for More Reasons Than You Think: The power of self-love cannot be overstated. This article explores the multifaceted benefits of self-love on your mental health, self-esteem, and overall well-being. Discover why self-love matters more than you might think.
Need immediate Help? Go To Talk Suicide Canada
Unfortunately for me, I was too busy being manly to intervene with mental illness when it started to consume me. Like some slow-moving disease, it ate away at my ability to work, interact with others and be one with the wider world. A fact I wish I could change. Nonetheless, knowing that I can’t, I now work on it from a “disease management” perspective.
See PTSD doesn’t have to define me, I just need to be aware that I can’t live as I once did. Kinda like when an athlete meets the end of his career, he needs to find a different way of living – so do I. We can’t keep up living the life we once could. This is true for everyone. For example, most of us can’t run as fast in our fifties as we could when we were in our twenties. While disappointing if you’re an avid runner, it is what it is. With an unlimited number of new passions to discover, life is far from over.
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And so, I shouldn’t waste a lot of my time thinking about the incredible mental endurance I once had. Instead, I focus on and maintain what I do have. While I remain hopeful that I will get strong enough to add even more meaning to my life, I will simply work towards it as if it were possible. Why? Well, because it gives me fuel to keep fighting. Self- improvement, it’ll give me a reason to get up, to eat, to work out and to maintain my social fitness.
When I break it all down, I am looking to live a life and not simply sit here and rot. So, another day at the gym it is, another healthy food to try, and another new whatever I need to do to have the best shot at a life I can be proud of. And there you have it, I fight it from a disease management perspective and hope that I will eventually win the day.
Hope the same goes for you.
I’m rooting for you – Jonathan.
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Delve into the profound narrative of Jonathan Arenburg’s intimate dance with an unseen devil – mental illness. As a young child of four, his innocuous obsession with holding doors open for others might have unknowingly opened a door to a chilling adversary that nearly shattered his life, and undeniably altered its course forever. This invisible enemy, this lurking beast, if it had taken a physical form with claws, fiery breath, and predatory eyes, he believes he would have bolted the door shut even at such a tender age. Yet, it remained unseen, its true form shrouded in the shadows of the unknown.
Curious about this captivating journey? Jonathan Arenburg invites you to traverse the treacherous terrains of his mental health journey, marked by anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). His tale is a gripping account, an essential read regardless of whether you grapple with these afflictions yourself or not. Increasing our understanding of these conditions is vital. It’s the first step towards creating change – for us, for our family, friends, and colleagues.
Kaitlyn Walker, an ardent reader, shares her thoughts:
“Exceptionally written, highly motivational, and thought-provoking! The author’s lived experiences paint a vivid picture in your mind, captivating you as he guides you through his journey. The narrative is laced with hope, tenacity, and a testament to the raw strength required to navigate mental health. This book is a potent illustration of the power in owning your mental health journey.”
from a disease management perspective Copyright 2023