The way I deal

The Way I Deal with Pain

Everyone has a process For dealing with personal emergencies. Here, I discuss the way I deal

Within the last year I have had two close calls where family members have been seriously sick or injured. While I will leave out the details, what I will say is; I am so very lucky that they are still here to hug.

So then, why am I going through the trouble of being this to your attention? Well, because I wanted to share my process of coping. Once I looked at it, the way I dealt with both incidents, I was surprised; although admittedly, looking back, I shouldn’t have been.

But as they say, hindsight is 20/20 and for me, refection is where I do most of my learning. As far as I can tell, I dealt with them in several ways; which is to say, initially, I didn’t deal with either incident at all.

Furthermore, in their aftermath, I forgot to look after myself; not surprising, after all, that’s what us helpers do, right? While this may be true, I think there can be no denying that its super unhealthy.

Healthy ways to cope when dealing with family medical emergencies

In light of my helper Achilles heel, not looking after myself, I have recently wondered; why I deal or, rather, don’t deal with emergencies well anymore?

Firstly, the helper, “I’ll be ok” method of dealing has always been the norm for me. However, since I have been diagnosed with PTSD, my process has mutated in a sense. If that weren’t bad enough, my years in the fire service also mess with my healing; As such, a slow degradation of my mental health has instilled terror in me over the slightest possibility of crisis in my life.

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So, after much thought, I have come up with my own list of stages and factors of how I deal with emergency situations; especially personals ones. Maybe they will heal in some why. Furthermore, I will explain to you how I deal with a depressive or traumatic episode.

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The stages during and after a personal emergency – The way I deal

  1. Autopilot

This is a term I learned in the fire service. It’s a great term to use because it perfectly sums up where a firefighters head goes when responding/tending to an emergency. Basically, autopilot is switched on by the need to mitigate a given incident; autopilot, when engaged, puts one in the “What do we have to do to get this done mode” In other words, it cancels out the background noise of what’s going on. This comes in handy because the last thing one needs is to be distracted by the chaos, the blood, the sounds, the fact that another human is in distress and so on.

What I have discovered is this; I remain conditioned to this autopilot feature; even long after my years in the service. So, when an emergency arises like those in my family for example, this switch gets flipped. A wonderful feature when in the emergency, but afterwards, not so much. when autopilot stays in the on position well beyond the incident itself, it always does more harm than good.


2. Gratitude

As I had mentioned, both incidents turned out for the better. Whenever this happens, I can’t help but feel grateful for it. So much so, I feel a strong sense of happy. Now, when I talk to my family members, I call attention to them and think about just how lucky I am to still have them. This in itself is a wonderful way to think. There is however, only one problem though; my major depressive disorder. I bet you’re wondering, “how can being grateful possibly have a bad side, even with depression?” Well, firstly, it in itself isn’t a bad thing, but a depressive mindset can corrupt it in a sense. Essentially, depression turns it into a trigger point with its negative dialogue. I always practice gratitude despite it though because it can make a depressive episode shorter. I know, it’s complicated.


Now, we can’t forget PTSD’s role in all this. Sadly, I can be shot down the rabbit hole of post-traumatic hell if I’m not careful. To be more specific, If I don’t manage it well, it will come for me. With my guard down and my thoughts preoccupied, It can easily invade my dreams, morphing them into nightmares; making flashbacks more vivid and turn me into a hypervigilance, easily started hot mess.

Complete List Of PTSD symptoms

4. The Crash

Finally, at the end of all, I crash and crash with the might of a meteor. In this stage, my bed becomes my safe harbour and I fully embrace it; for a short time, I give in. Hitting a low happens when the unseen symptoms of PTSD and depression overtake me, sucking out my life force until lifting my head is a monumental task.

But…. There is hope – the things I do to recover

  1. The Reset

Can being down and out, secluded in bed for a time be a good thing? Well, yes and no. Firstly, if you choose to make your darkness you home for extended periods of time, this is not healthy, however, if you give yourself permission to take a day or two, it can be a great reset. Myself, I will never bend to its will, therefore, I get my ass moving again as soon as possible

Now, this doesn’t mean that I am operating at full capacity either; it means I know how far to push myself. For example, I usually start out small, hanging around the house, maybe write a little etc. Then, I will force social contact. For instance, I go to a quiet café with a friend. This is a fairly typical strategy for me. After that I dial up my busy or dial it down, it all depends on my mental disposition at any given moment.

2. Forced Social Contact

As I mentioned, after the reset, I force myself to be social. While it might not seem appropriate, it is in fact, the only way I get to have so semblance of a life. Again, its essential to know your aliments and your own personal limits. Once one knows them, you can reintegrate as tolerated. Similarly, one can pull back when needed.

3. Continued support from mental health professionals.

The Most effective treatments for mental illness

What’s been fundamental in learning my own limits and how my mental illnesses impact me, has been therapy. A necessity in my books. Furthermore, with the guidance of my psychologist, I have built better mindfulness skills and other tools that have helped strengthen my resilience. With the use of EMDR and cognitive behavioural therapy for example, I have slowly worked towards conditioning my cognition to overcome my symptoms.

Check out below for books on mindfulness, EMDR and cognitive

behavioural therapy

4. Use The Coping tools

We all know that if we don’t use tools we can fix what’s broken. The same is true of acquired coping tools. For me, the tendency at first was to give up on them; sighting that they “don’t work”. But skill building takes time, regardless of the skill. In my case, I had to learn to be kind to myself. Remember, healing is a marathon, not a race. With they said, medications can be helpful for many. Sadly, I was not open to the idea of origin, but I ended up being in so much mental pain that I ended up saying yes to them, desperate to dull the pain. They work, at ;east somewhat. Because of them, I can better cope with the suicidal ideation.

5. Rest

Having all the above mentioned things in place, allows for a rapid recharge if you will. Thankfully, this has reduced my stents in bed and has given me the strength to overcome mental illnesses’ persuasive talk.

Thanks to the hard work and determination to do what ever it takes to get better; I recognize that falling victim to my mental health conditions won’t get me down the road to mental wellness. Understanding that secluding myself for long periods of time is what depression wants, I can now rest when I need to without fearing that I will remain there.

A healthy bout of rest (a day or two) is best.

You can read all about other people’s stories at Sick Not Weak

6. Exercise

Finally, but no less important is exercise. I often refer to physical activity as mother nature’s medication. Why? Simply put, it makes me feel great. In fact, it can shorten any downtime I experience. And the beauty of it all? The options are endless. From walking, to running, to lifting weights to yoga; there is such a variety that its very likely that you can find something that works for you.

Below are some options to help get you started on your fitness journey

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the way I deal
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For me, running melts away anxiety better than any medication can but with that said, all forms of exercise have a positive effect. As a result, I will never regret putting myself through it.

Different forms of physical activity

Well, there it is for all the world to see, this is the way I deal when I go through tragedy

In closing, I have learned that the healing process requires action, therefore, whether I want to or not, I must do! From my perspective, action is where the solution lays. The above mentioned items are the way forward.

Jonathan Arenburg
Jonathan Arenburg

Jonathan Arenburg is a mental health blogger, writer and published author; appearing in the i’Mpossible’s Lemonade Stand III. He has also been a contributing writer for Mental health talk, a column in his local paper. In addition, he has also written for the mental health advocacy organization; Sick Not Weak.

Jonathan has also appeared on several mental health-related podcasts Including: A New Dawn, The Depression Files and Men Are Nuts Since being put off work because of PTSD, Jonathan has dedicated his time to his mental wellness journey while helping others along the way.

In Crisis? Go to Crisis Services Canada
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Have I figured out the meaning of life?

Have I figured out the meaning of life?

Have I figured out the meaning of life? When battling major depression this is what keeps me going.

As humans, it is in our nature to question our own existence; I mean really, why are we here? I suspect that the answer is a difficult one for many to uncover. However, I also have my suspicions that there’s more than one answer to this question. Perhaps it’s as individual as humans themselves?

From my perspective. the answer has somewhat come to light over the course of my lifetime. With that said, my answer may not correspond with other people’s definition. Regardless, it bears thinking about. And I thought it might be helpful to share.

The meaning of life, or at least as I understand it, has come to me after continuously battling mental illness. When coupled with my brain’s tendency to be in overdrive nearly every moment of every day, I was bound to reach a conclusion at some point.

How you ask? Interestingly, I have decided on its meaning, not through a dictionary definition, but rather, the instability that comes with a horrible dread of a depressive episode. Likewise, I posed this question during the more peaceful moments in between.

How to manage a depressive episode

Truth is, if I had not contemplated the meaning of life both in my darkest hours and at my happiest times, I believe the answer would have alluded me; quite possibly for the remainder of my life.

firstly, as most people with depression can attest, one is often stuck ruminating over why they are even here in the first place. Similarly, they can often question the point to it all. I know I do; frustratingly so, it occupies my neurocircuitry whenever I suffer a boat of major depression.

Negative self-talk and depression.

The beauty of this darkness? I actively seek to answer the question; what’s life’s purpose?

This question often crosses my mind organically, no matter my mental state and thankfully, I’ve come up with a conclusion that I think many may agree with.

Looking for help? Try our Mental Health resources page

So, without further ado, here goes nothing: Have I figured out the meaning of life?

Humans have a beautiful ability to connect to one another in a very significant form of kindness.

At its core is a little thing called Love. This emotion, with the strength of gravity, pulls us towards those whom we have a “Humans have a beautiful ability to connect to one another in a very significant form of kindness.deep affinity for.

But connection and love are more than just mere feelings, they are natural survival mechanisms that have allowed humanity to form families and social networks. Because of it, we have survived for thousands of years.

Because its strength is so strong, so undeniable, it is the very essence for life itself”.

Looking for books that inspire? Go here:

I believe that this is the formula for the meaning of life. Love, connection and unity equal stronger, longer and more robust relationships. In my view, this is a beautiful gift.

Think of it, when we have this formula going for us, we are much less likely to feel lonely and isolated. Personally, I find that when I do a gratefulness inventory, my episodes of depression seem to be shorter.

Finally, while I know firsthand that major depression can feel really lonely and isolating, I also know that I do have many strong connections and thus many reasons to ride the wave of mental illness. The people I have in my life are truly amazing! So, Have I figured out the meaning of life? You decide.

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I have the will

I have the will

I have the will to try and optimize my life, I know you do too.

I have always believed that in order for one to grow, one must reflect on where they have been. But I also believe, that’s only the start of one’s personal growth. We must have the strength and courage to better ourselves and learn from our past. Fortunately for me, I have the will to at least try and face my demons.

Now, I have to be honest, it sounds like I have the ability to plow through depression’s powers each and every day, Man I wish, not so. At least not all the time. Personally, I have learned to be good with that fact and work on improvement when I am able.

The Road To Mental Wellness is made possible in part by readers like you… thank you for your support.

As it happens, I have spent the last few days hiding from the outside world; PTSD’s flashbacks can often throw me into a depressive episode. Thankfully, like always, I got through it, at least well enough to function outside the realm of isolation. I do so because I have the will and the resolve to keep moving forward.

I have the will
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Self-care tips when in a depressive episode.

As far as I’m concerned, going full tilt all the time is not a sign of dealing with a mental health condition. Similarly, having an episode of continual mental pain is not the demise of your wellness journey.

Read: Storytelling will Save the World… Yes, Even Yours

No, I would argue that, like your body, the brain can tell you when you’ve exceeded your tolerance. The difference being, that rather than it being overly physical, you’ve had enough mentally.

So, if we accept this as true, that our mind knows the score, we can make it easier to embrace the episodes that take the wheel of life from time to time. So you can’t go to work, enjoy large parties and go for days with our passions, It’s ok if you can’t, you’re not like anyone else; just know that you shall overcome your darker days and when you feel better you’ll end up with the will to keep going. Simply pick up where you left off

Checkout the book I helped to write:

Lemonade Stand: Vol. III 

Created by Josh Rivedal and Kathleen Myre, Lemonade Stand: Vol. III is a compilation of 20 stories from those who have served in the emergency services and the military.  In it, the authors talk about their battles with PTSD, a debilitating and for many, a life-long mental illness.  So, if you are from the military or emergency service’s, perhaps this book can help you combat the feelings of isolation and fear that frequently comes with post-traumatic stress disorder. Sometimes, just knowing that there are others out there, just like you, can provide you with the strength and courage to speak up and or get the help you need. The intention of this book is to help with that…. You’re not alone.

Also, Lemonade Stand: Vol III was written to help combat the stigma that often accompanies mental illness, best of all, it attempts to give all you served their countries and communities a voice… Which is amazing!

Pre order today

If you are struggling please go here for help: Crisis Services Canada


Checkout our Mental Health Resources Page.

Contact me on my Facebook page: The Road To Mental Wellness

The What’s Wrong Scanner
Then, the what's wrong scanner booted up. Have you ever gone along …
To look forward is to look into your past.
The Way I Deal with Pain
Everyone has a process For dealing with personal emergencies. Here, I discuss …
This could be the key to moving FORWARD
This could be the key to moving forward. Let your passion be …