There is two sides to every story

Two sides to every story

Remember, there are two sides to every story.

Before we start, there are two sides to every story… please consider donating to The Road To Mental Wellness, we are able to keep going because of readers like you. Thank you for your support.

As a mental health advocate, part of the work I do is to try to get people to understand the plight of those suffering from mental illness. This, as you well might imagine, is no easy task.

But perhaps even more difficult, is living with or trying to explain to someone but why you; say, jump at literally every single noise. You know, this is classic PTSD and it’s startle response. However, it’s been my experience that the majority of people who aren’t cursed with this invisible taser-like affliction, will likely see you as jumpy. Furthermore, rather than seeing one as ill, people who don’t know will either laugh or pay it zero attention. Hell, I’ve even been told to calm down. There are, without question, there are two side to every story.

One thing I would like to get better at, and I wish the rest of us would too; is learning to think deeper than just what we observe on the surface from others. Personally this has been a reoccurring theme in my life and it has done some real damage.

For instance, we could stop and ask ourselves what’s really causing the behaviour that we are seeing? Now, I know that this really isn’t the way we think, at least the majority of us; however, it would nonetheless help us better understand and thus better empathize those around us. So maybe empathy is something we should teach in schools?

How to cultivate empathy.

Empathy allows us to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes; to try and understand and work with people who having unique challenges. In my case, If disappear and withdrawal for example, I’m not avoiding you intentionally, I am trying to recharge; so I can cope with the world around me. Understanding how depression works, will help you see that it’s not you, thus you may have more empathy for my predicament. The lack of trying on the part of others is, as far as I am concerned, further proof that there are two side to every story.

The sad reality of a person with PTSD is that the person you loved and once knew is gone. For us, this is a huge part of our journey because we are wrestling with a loss of identity. Our sense of self was once wrapped up in the services, our lives literally put on hold countless times to run to the aid of others. PTSD, takes that from us, at least in the way we once knew it.

There are two side to every story – yes even the non-sufferer.

With all that said, we, the mentally ill must consider that there are two side to every story of those on the outside looking in. For example. Do they know anything about PTSD, depression or any other form of mental illness? Furthermore, do we have a right to be mad at every human being who “doesn’t get it?” While this may be difficult to answer, it’s my contention that, no, in fact we can’t be mad with every Johnie and Joe; especially if they have only heard tell of PTSD on the TV or internet. Some people will never get past the words, “oh my. that’s terrible.” What can I, or you do about that? Others are outright dismissive whilst others are avoidant.

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Our Mission:

Rally Point Retreat provides a quiet, safe, and relaxing, rural setting on Nova Scotia’s South Shore as a respite for essential services members in treatment for CIS/CSI/OSI/OSIS/PTSD to regroup themselves and reconnect with their families, to prevent further collateral damage from traumatic events.

While deep down I find that a bit sad and frustrating, especially when I have to provide a crash course on trauma wherever I go, I do accept that not everyone cares. It’s just the way it is. Does that mean we give up the fight? Of course not.

The most effective tool we as the ill, is the amazing power of education, not through agitation. The exception? Family and close friends. If they want to and love that special person with PTSD, they are going to have to commit like never before. I recommend that one’s partner, children and friends seek out the assistance of a metal health professional, educate themselves on the disorder and train themselves to look for the signs. Letting someone know who’s post-traumatic that you are going to make a loud noise, is just but one of the ways you can help.

How to love and live with someone who has PTSD.

So, it’s imperative that we see that there are two sides to every story. Firstly, people with mental illness need love, support and customization. It would be helpful for society as a whole to recognize this but that’s not practical. Two, we must understand that it’s not realistic to assume that the entire population is educated about mental health conditions or that they are cable of understanding it. This reality necessitates that we move away from the non-empathic or ignorant.

So, my fellow suffers, lets educate and not hate. We will reach some and others? Well, what can we do? I have always felt that the best way to change the world is by one person at a time. I will worry about those who are willing and not waste me very limited mental resources on those who don’t know or care. Remember, if we choose to fight against mental illness stigma, we must not waste our fuel. Rather we must ration it to help move the cause forward on the willing to learn.

In those momenets

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 services, 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!

There are two sides to every story, copyright, 2020

Order today

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


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How To Affect Change

How to Affect Change

Warning, this post contains material that may be triggering to others; reader discretion is advised. The options expressed In this article; How To Affect Change are those of the writer.

Empathy, it’s a term that is tossed around often in conversation. But what does it mean? Well, simply put, its the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. While in college, the need to be empathic was drilled into our heads. When you are a counsellor, being able to sense other’s emotions is essential. This is how we affect change in the lives of the ill.

Once you learn how to empathize with others, a whole new world opens up. This new world is amazing because it can help to minimize any judgments you may have towards, not only those who sit across from you seeking your help; it can help you to look at all people’s in a more equal light. Ultimately, it bolstered my belief that everyone has value.

Want to Read more from The Road To Mental Wellness? Chick here

Similarly, my counselling education taught me so much about helping those with mental illness. Having a mental health condition is serious and should be treated as such, always!

I am grateful for having learned to take mental health as seriously as any other medical condition. Not only has it made me a better helper but it’s also helped me to be kinder to myself; understanding the core principles that make mental illness tick allows me to see that John the person and John’s PTSD Or John’s depression are two different things.

Ways to be kinder to yourself when you’re mentally ill

Sadly, Not everyone is able to sperate themselves from their illness. There are many factors that make one feel like their disorder is part of their identity. They include:

  • The symptoms themselves. Many mental disorders produce irritability, for example, this can cause conflict with others, making one feel like a bad person.
  • Stigma. Not everyone understands or cares to quite frankly; Having an encounter with sigma can re-enforce one’s symptoms, making them want to retreat from the world and making then feel less than they are.

Of course, there are many other things that can impact people who are ill. But the one I want to focus on is the resistance from the physical health side of things. I am speaking of some doctors, nurses and other professionals charged with the care of sick people. Now, it has to be said, that most health care professionals are awesome! What I am talking about here is the enormous burden on them; its no easy task and the majority of the ones I have encountered are kind, compassionate and do what they can.

How To Affect Change

However, I have the impression that many health care professionals have two separate views on illness; the physical disease model is of the utmost priority whilst mental health treatment is considered a low priority, if its on the radar at all. This is likely due to the amount of physical health training they have compared to mental health training.

The health care crisis

Moreover, the notion that a mental health emergency is somehow not as worthy indicates to me, a lack of understanding. When someone walks into an ER and bravely tells a doctor or nurse that they want to kill themselves, that should be seen in the same light as someone in the ER who has coded from a heart attack. Both can be life or death.

Those who come in a mental health crisis can and indeed, should be treated accordingly. They require a different set of skills; those of active listening, a calm voice and you guessed it, empathy. Additionally, suicide intervention training and protocols must be followed.

How to talk to someone in a mental health emergancy.

In other words, if a person presents with suicidal ideation, they should be kept for observation. And, if they tell you they have a plan, this should not only be taken seriously; it’s imperative that its seen as an emergency. Find them a bed until they can access the mental health services they need.

We need to do better, mental illness is a growing epidemic(1) and our ER’s like that of any medical emergency are our first line of defence. Of course, it would be irresponsible to rest the entire blame on the medical and mental health establishments, after all, their respective fields have been butchered by government cuts. To Lean more, how we can bolster the system, click the link below. Please, take care of yourself, hang in there and most importantly, keep fighting. Let’s learn how we can affect change.

Making the Case for Investing
in Mental Health in Canada

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Contact: The Road To Mental Wellness

Behaviour and Personality.

Normally, I devote the majority of my time focused on helping others with mental illness. In fact, that’s the driving force behind The Road To Mental Wellness. It’s not that I don’t care about fixing the stigma that’s out there, I just want to help the sick feel better. That being said, we need to discuss the difference between behaviour and personality.

Although I choose to devote more of my time helping others get through mental health moment, there’s a few things I wish people understood. Sometimes, seeing things from a different perspective is all one needs to break down barriers. I truly believe that most well minded individuals want to help ease the pain.

But how? It can be tough to try and empathise with someone who’s experience differs from your own, this can create a void and ultimately, a miscommunication.

When I came to understand that the behaviours I was seeing was a result of their mental illnesses and thus an unfair representation of who they really were, I excelled in my job.

This brings me to the purpose of this post. I want to help those who are struggling to understand mental illness and why we behave the way we do. But how do we accomplish this? I want to share with you what I learnt working with people with mental illness.

Throughout the majority of my adult life, I have had the honour of working with people with serve mental disabilities; in addition, many of them presented with very aggressive behaviours. Notice I underlined the word behaviours; but why?

Well, in my extensive experience with this population, staff tended to integrate the behaviour they observed with personality of the person producing them. Behaviours one produces and who they are as a person are two fundamentally very different things. If this is the case, than why do we have a tenancy to define people based on what we observe?

The Difference between behaviour and personality.

It’s a good question and one that is worth thinking about at length. Sometimes observations that are made are judgements to keep us safe. For example, if you witness aggression you are going to avoid the acting out individual.

If we embrace the notion that behaviour and personality are two different things, we strengthen our empathy.

When I came to understand that the behaviours I was seeing was a result of their mental illnesses and thus an unfair representation of who they really were, I excelled in my job.

Behaviour and Personality

This revelation helped me to cultivate my empathy and was essential to building a working relationship. This helped my cliental reduce their outbursts. In short, I recognised that when they were at baseline, that is, they were in a state that allowed for typical interaction and daily living.; some where outgoing and kind, whist others were naturally funny and helpful. I saw these personality traits for what they truly are, elements of the real person.

So, what does this mean for you, the everyday person? Well, what it means is this; if you have a loved one suffering from depression, the low mood and desire to stay in bed, It is in no way a good metric to define who they really are. It is behaviour being produced by their mental health condition. No different than trauma to a leg, it symptom is a limb.

If we embrace the notion that behaviour and personality are two different things, we strengthen our empathy. When we do so, our perspective shifts and we take on a more supportive role. For the sufferer, this can go a long way in making the chronic sad a little easier to take.

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Contact: The Road To Mental Wellness