2021, putting our differences aside

2021 Putting Our Differences Aside.

Let’s work hard in 2021, putting our differences aside to fight for normalcy. Together, we can lower the incidence of mental and physical illness.

As 2020 disappears into the pages of history, it will, no doubt be many years before it is forgotten, if ever at all. It truly is one for the history books. Having said that, there’s no reason we can leap into the new year with a sense of optimism and hope. #2021

While its true, 2020 hit everyone hard, thanks to COVID-19, there is hope on the horizon. A few vaccines have been produced and are now being administered. While this is great news, it is still up to us to minimize the virus impact on the world. Sadly, the pandemic has taken its toll. The reality is all around us.

Regardless of where your opinion lies on the subject, one thing I think we can all agree on is we all have a collective, deep in the guts hopefulness within; one that wants to see some of what we once knew. For me, I am trying to think of 2021 as a year of healing. So, let’s work hard in 2021, putting our differences aside, so we can achieve this common desire.

Therefore, I want to focus on our similarities as opposed to our differences. What if we did embrace our differences and put them aside and worked together for the common good? Maybe this could lead us down the road to a collective resolution? If we are to put the brakes on the mental health crisis we are seeing, I think working together is our best chance.

The COVID-19 Mental Health Epidemic

Perhaps the best example of cohesion for the common good I have ever seen has been in the fire service. While I’m sure there are more amazing teams working together, this is where my own experiences are.

Firstly, The fire service is astounding, and it’s the members who make it that way. A conglomeration of people who sign up for duty to move to heaven and earth to make it work for the betterment of their communities. Personally, I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

How we can work together for the common good

Not surprisingly, the service, like any other organization, isn’t without its controversy. In fact, its challenges can get darn right intense. Likewise, the solutions offered up to resolve them, well lets just say, they can be polarizing to say the least.

As much as we don’t enjoy opposition, that’s life. In reality, not everyone will agree all the time. Nonetheless, It is however, normal. Likewise, disagreement is even helpful. Can you imagine never having any other option tabled, never considered? How would we grow? Furthermore, how would an organization move forward?

Yet, despite knowing this, we remain divided. Why? Well, I think what lies at the heart of the matter is a lack of listening to one another. Instead, we are waiting to react. Although we all want to be heard, not listening to others can be, well, rather counterproductive.

Today, so far as I’m concerned, defensiveness seems to be set on autopilot, making reacting, rather than listening the norm.

Learn how to mediate with others HERE

Because firefighting by its very nature is a profession of life or death, individual differences and conflicts are actively discouraged on the fire ground. This rule is so ingrained in the members, that once on an active scene, I have seen a complete transformation between two opposing persons. It’s awesome to see play out. If you didn’t know their history, you would never know that there was tension between them. Instead, what you see are two family-like members willing to lay down their life for one another and for people they have never met.

Having bared witness to temporary reconciliation for the greater good, countless times over my fifteen year stent in the service, I know that society at large can ban together; that we can set aside our difference of opinion and united to beat this virus.

Something to think about.

While seeing the world in a variety of ways is a good thing, it is still worth looking at what’s before us with a wide lens. For example, lockdowns impact everyone, and they don’t consider opinions or feeling. As difficult as this is for everyone, the question becomes how do WE get out of this sooner rather than later? I believe that complying now, regardless of belief towards it, will get everyone what they want sooner. Therefore, let’s put our differences on hold for now, work together and get on with it. Unleash your inner firefighter.

NEED HELP? DON’T KNOW WHERE TO TURN? CHECK OUT OUR MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES PAGE

christmas table with decorations for holiday
Photo by Oleg Zaicev on Pexels.com

So, if the members of the fire service can put their opinions and other differences aside under such potentially mentally and physically damaging circumstances, why can’t we? there’s no question, we are living in such challenging times that few of us if any, are not feeling the heat.

In my experience, putting our differences aside does indeed add to the best possible outcome. Let’s listen and stand in solidarity. together so we can end the chaos.

Happy New Year! May 2121 be filled with joy and renewal.

Jonathan

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The Road To Mental Wellness – The Book

Cover reveal

I am excited to announce that I will be revealing my first book cover in mid January. Called The Road To Mental Wellness, it chronicles my lifelong battles with mental illness. It’s goal? To help others by telling my story…. Check back for updates. However, if you would like to see it sooner, simply subscribe to The Road To Mental Wellness email list and I will be more than happy to send you the exclusive fist look at it.

Order Lemonade Stand Vol. III here

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

OR

Check out our Mental Health Resources Page

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

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Love and Loath

Love and loath

The emergency services; it really is something to both love and loath.

Before you reading, Love and loath, I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who has supported The Road To Mental Wellness, your contributions keep me going….. Thank you! Any donations are greatly appreciated. To donate, please click the donate button below

I would be lying if I said that waking up every day with PTSD wasn’t a monumental challenge. It also would be accurate to say that, at some moments, I loathe the choices I’ve made. Sometimes, I feel like I walked down the wrong road when I signed the dotted line and joined the fire service.

While it’s true, there are times when my blood boils with regret for doing so, I know deep down in my heart of hearts that I was part of something great; I don’t hate that bit. But even still, its slowly morphed itself over the years into the very definition of a love-hate scenario.

With that said, my thoughts branch off to other sub categories. For instance, I often think about the old saying; that one person can’t make a difference. I disagree. For it depends on the scale in which you are talking.

For example, if you are a firefighter in any small community, one’s efforts in the can and often do have a monumental impact. All it takes is the will, the determination and the love to want to help. I have met countless people in the service who have all of these qualities.

How to make a difference in your community

I had recently met a fire chief who ran a station in a small community and does so on a very scant small budget. Yet, despite this, he is pouring his heart and soul into the building, into the equipment and its members. He was and is working his guts out to better his community.

Sadly however, the wider community, regardless of its location, they’re cannot fully grasp the enormous sacrifices that are made by both paid and volunteer personnel on their behalf. It is for this reason, I think anyone in the emergency services are nothing short of amazing….. I thank you so much.

This is the element of the service that I was and am still proud of. Those individuals who sacrifice their family time, their work time, hobbies and in tons of cases, their own health. Whether you were paid or not, there are real risks associated with running into an inferno or extricating someone from a vehicle on a dark, rain soaked highway. While we are lucky that there are people who give their all, those working themselves to exhaustion on countless opccasionsin does something to does real damage.

Read: Carbon Monoxide And PTSD.

Specifically, I feel like exhaustion plays a significant role in first responders’ mental health. And if that weren’t enough, the constant barrage of unspeakable and unique tragedies, accumulate making the two combined a recipe for disaster.

How to remain healthy while being a first responder

So, it’s not too hard to fathom why I both love and loath the service. I know first hand how truly amazing the contributions of a few people is. A few in a community of many. They really do make a difference. But like in all things, there is a price to pay for some. The cost? PTSD. I wish with every fibre of my being that the images burned into my soul could be obliterated, they can’t. However, setting my heart and mind free will always be the goal I put in front of me.

I don’t have to like my symptoms and the unique scenarios they present. In fact, I can even hate them. What I can’t do is reject my efforts, my passion and love for the fire service. I did my part, and I am proud of my sacrifice and contribution.

Thankfully though, despite this constant tug of war going on inside me, the love, the gratitude, and the honour to have served my community, always outweigh the darker aspects of the service.

Love and loath
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com – Love and loath

Finally, I see PTSD as a devastating force in my life but thankfully, I also see it as something I’ve earned with distinction. I may have forever altered my health but when I look back, I know it made a difference.

Truly, someone has to do it. And for those of us who suffer a mental health injury and succumb to it as a result, deserve so much more than fading into casual conversation around the station and never to be engaged with again.

Listen to others talk about their mental health journey at A New Dawn.

I know for many of my colleagues this can be difficult, but all I will say is this; being forgotten by those you risked your life with, spent countless hours training beside and helping both in and out of the station, when they stop talking to you, their wounded colleague, it only serves to further devour who you define yourself as. For us, it feels like a building fully engulfed in flames; it’s not only isolating but it’s an utter and total loss.

Please hang in there! We, the mentally injured have our own community. If in Nova Scotia and have PTSD from being in any branch of service, or planning to come to Novas Scotia, please check out these amazing peer support facilities below.

Please know that there is an entire community of those with mental health injuries from all branches of services who are here and will be here for you to help redefine your purpose, try to minimize your isolation and do what they can so that you feel supported and part of something bigger than yourself. Please…. Reach out.

Checkout the book I helped to write:

Lemonade Stand: Vol. III 

20 authors from the military and emergency services tell their story of PTSD.

Order today

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

OR

Checkout our Mental Health Resources Page

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

This could be the key to moving FORWARD
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Unsurmountable odds.

How to overcome unsurmountable odds.

Over the years, I’ve had my fair share of going head to head with the heat of the fire ground. And looking back on those days, I count my blessings that I came home alive. Furthermore, I am proud of my contribution to the department and to my community. It has provided me so many valuable learning experiences that no amount of money could buy.

With all that aside, there are those out there who think that putting yourself in harm’s way is heroic; truthfully, most firefighters will tell you that they don’t see themselves as Heroes. I myself happen to be one of those. To me and many others in the service, we are simply doing what we signed up to do. Even though this is what we truly believe, it’s hard to argue that it takes a certain amount of courage to perform the duties asked of you in the emergency services.

Read: When Stigma Arises.

I don’t think there’s any question, even to the layperson that emergency service workers see things no one should really see. Indeed, the tragic side of humanity can be level 10 in intensity; many in the services try, to suppress this intensity. oftentimes winding up with the mental health injury, PTSD in the process.

I often refer to post-traumatic stress disorder as the disorder that keeps on giving because it’s never-ending; it’s torturous effects are hard on, not only the mind and body but everyone that surrounds you whom you love and care for.

Help for loved ones of people with PTSD.

If that weren’t enough, those who succumb to their injuries end up being the forgotten, the discarded and the misunderstood . This can be especially tough because from the time you enter the service, you’re often reminded of just how much of a brother and sisterhood it is. Sadly, like so many other organizations, the love can be conditional. Oftentimes, with mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress occur, they can see you exiled from the family.

Like some sickly newborn animal, discarded by its family at birth, we are may get left in the wilderness to fend off what is essentially unsurmountable odds; all on our own.

So, in an attempt to overcome these unsurmountable odds, I have endeavored to bring awareness to, not only the services but also to the wider world and loved ones; who can have a hard time grasping our reality.

Looking For Help? Here’s our mental health resources page.

With that said, it is unrealistic for people in our position to assume that the world around us, including our one-time colleagues to totally understand what they are witnessing or experiencing from a person with PTSD.

In my opinion, at the end of the day all you can do is seek out like-minded folk who have a better grasp on what goes on inside the mind of the traumatic brain. furthermore, the reality is, that too large degree and probably for most of our lives, we will indeed be left in the wild to fend for our very survival.

I feel this way simply because no matter how supportive people are, it’s still a lonely and dreadful road to mental wellness. However, like back in the days where we worked ourselves to exhaustion to minimize the damage of chaos, and loss odlf life, we must work to absolute exhaustion to minimize the odds of a personal tragic outcome. Where at one time, getting to the belly of the beast meant extinguishing flames, for us, it now stands for extinguishing our own fires. PTSD is the fuel rhat keeps the seemingly eternal flame burning within our minds.

We may not all have the support we were expecting, nonetheless, we have each other.

Yes, our scenarios may be fraught with unsurmountable odds, but that does not mean we should give up; nor should we not dream of better days to come. Success should be measured in inches not miles, small achievements some days are the largest accomplishments. Please know, we are now the new brother and sisterhood, that of the PTSD clan. while it’s true that you may feel alone, you are not. Together we can beat these unsurmountable odds.

Order Lemonade Stand Vol 3 today!

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!

Click on the following link to order.

Lemonade Stand Vol 3

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

OR

Checkout our Mental Health Resources Page

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

This could be the key to moving FORWARD
This could be the key to moving forward. Let your passion be …
I will never bend to it’s will
I will never bend to its will, to my mental illness. These …
You have the right to refuse
MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES PAGE
Have I figured out the meaning of life?
Have I figured out the meaning of life? When battling major depression …