Critical Incident

A Critical Incident, yours?

Anyone can face a critical incident or more, not just emergency service workers.

You know what just occurred to me? Men hide from every ounce of mental pain they endure. Ok, That’s not really all that surprising. After all, this is a fact that many of us, including myself are well aware of.

While this may be true, I’d like to delve into this notion a little more. For one reason or another, our society has associated emotional suppression in men a sign of strength. During my morning coffee, I came to the conclusion that pushing things out of the way, can be both right and wrong. Essentially, I think there’s a yes and no answer.

When I was a firefighter, It was essential to push your emotional response to a critical incident out of the way. If not, how would we make order out of chaos? Being locked into a tragic scene, is no time to explore how you are feeling about what lies before you.

With that said, some of us are overcome by the carnage and the incredible amount of stress placed on our fight, flight or fight mode. This is a natural biological phenomenon; for those impacted, they go into the ultimate survival mode. Nothing to be ashamed of, we are after all, only human. The reality is, some of us can give no more and it becomes about self-preservation.

Critical Incident.
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Like what you are reading? Try, Carbon Monoxide And PTSD.

Therefore, emotional avoidance is a necessary but should only be seen as a temporary coping tool. Thank the gods for the adrenaline rush. This hormone overrides our emotions by putting us in autopilot mode. Very, very useful.

Beyond the incident, what happens? Do we need to keep pushing it down like we are smashing leaves with our foot into a garbage bag, packing it in tighter and tighter? From my experience, the answer to this question is no. We are a vessel and as such, we can only hold so much. Remember, mental illnesses are nervous system disorders. This means our psychological well-being has its roots in our biology.

The dangers of suppressing your emotions.

Looking at avoidance post incident though, how helpful is this? Moreover, if we ignore the accumulative pain that is fighting for supremacy within us, will we win? Maybe. Truthfully, many lose.

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Perhaps the most important question here is; Why do we men move mental mountains to avoid the pain boiling below the surface? I believe the answer is fear, right? Well, if that’s the case, we don’t normally associate running from things as strong, rather I feel like being strong means we have the strength to deal with whatever lies in front of us. this includes confronting our inner demons.

I’m by no means suggesting that people avoid their feelings are cowards, far from it; been in their shoes my friends. But pretending I was invincible was exhausting and may have almost got me in the end. If I didn’t man up and face reality I was going to be my own critical incident. I am calling my fight to save myself firefighter self-rescue.

Saving yourself from your own critical incident.

What I am saying is this; It takes a strong person to overcome their fear and admit, “I have had enough.” or to reach out and say, “I need help.” For me personally, it took an incredible amount of psychological effort to admit that I needed help and evermore difficult to reach out. I fail to see the weakness.

Sadly, I was being “brave” for far too long. It wasn’t until the thoughts of ending my life were so dominating that I admitted I was running, that I was scared.

You’ve spent your whole life holding it in, letting it fester, it’s time my friends. For my colleagues in the emergency services, men, women and other identities, it’s time for you to save yourself; you’ve earned it. After risking your own health, mental health included to save others, you own crisis is the next critical incident that needs your needs you to respond.

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

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Checkout our Mental Health Resources Page

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You can't ignore PTSD

You can’t ignore PTSD

You can’t ignore PTSD

In our society, we tend to think that we are failures if life takes us off our planned path. But are we really failures? I’d like to make the argument that when life takes us off course, we can forge a new way forward.

When I was a firefighter, I pushed myself well beyond my mental abilities; thinking I could just shake off the traumatic events I witnessed and get back on the rig for the next call.

I suppose this myth I was telling my self worked for a while, or, so I had thought. Turns out, that I was not coping at all; I was, in fact, doing more and more damage.

Knowing your mental limits

When the time came that my mental strength was all but exhausted, I felt defeated; like I had failed. After all, none of my colleagues seem to be having this issue. On the day I resigned, I felt like a complete and utter failure. To add to this perceived failure, was this head to toe feeling of weakness and shame.

A double whammy

Who knew that pushing through my mental pain would be such a bad idea? I really wish I had known at the time; it may have saved the rest of my life from coming unravelled. However, my reality has been forged by the fact that I didn’t know.

Due to my decisions to keep fighting on with no regard for my mental health, I lost; my feelings of failure were compounded by the fact that I had recognized my illness too late. Perhaps its more accurate to say that I pushed it down and packed my trauma so tight that it finally snapped.

Whichever was the case, the mental pain my fire service days had leached into every facet of my life. This sad reality I faced would include my work life too.

Like what you are reading? Try Path To Mental Healing.

Making my living as a health care worker was not an easy one to say the least. I had witnessed some pretty traumatic incidents there too. While this was my was also my reality, the cornerstone for my PTSD without question, stemmed from the fire service.

Regardless, I had mentally bled out for far too long and before I knew it, my mistaken resilience crumbled under the weight of my mental illness. Only a few short years after calling it quits as a volunteer firefighter, I would find myself making an exit from my workplace as well; proving that you can’t ignore PTSD, it will indeed, get you in the end.

Is failure such a bad thing?

While I thought for years after I left the service that I had failed at everything I loved; I’m happy to say that I was wrong. Failure is just a conduit for success so long as you keep moving forward. Doing what I have to do, has been slowly leading me down the road to mental wellness and as a result, I have discovered new passions along the way.

man standing on rock during sunset
Photo by Mathew Thomas on Pexels.com

When every aspect of my life went off the rails, I turned to writing in a desperate attempt to sort out what was going on inside my head. Consequently, a new passion was ignited; a love for writing.

You can’t ignore PTSD, this is true but if you are manning up, shoving it down or in just plain old denial, please know that when PTSD becomes too much, there is life after the military or emergency services. Failure is an option as long as you understand this: PTSD or any mental illness is not something you choose to have and secondly; as humans, we are gifted with the ability to discover other passions. So in that regard, no matter what we go through in life, we can always find something that gives us our love for life back.

Keep moving forward.

Lemonade Stand Vol. III is a collection of 20 authors who have PTSD because of their military and or emergency services background. They bravely tell their stories in hopes that will help end stigma within the services and within mental health in general. Its other objective is to give people who are afraid to speak a voice.

When I read the stories from the other authors, it was like I was reading the story of my own struggles. I quickly realized that this book will not only help those with PTSD but may very well provide their spouses and families with insight into their loved one’s mental illness.

Pre order today at https://theroadtomentalwellness.com/blog__trashed/lemonade-stand-iii/

20 authors their story of PTSD

Checkout the book I helped to write

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

Want help fund my book? donate: GOFundMe – The Road To Mental Wellness – The book

Contact me on my Facebook page: facebook.com/TRTMW

Pretty Tough Decisions

Boy, these sure are different times we’re living in aren’t they? To me, the hold world feels, I don’t know, it just feels different. Not only does it feel different, but there’s also seemingly no end in sight. What’s more, as time goes by and the realities of what this means start to kick in, we will all have to make some unprecedented sacrifice. We can only do this if we make some pretty tough decisions.

Those who know me can tell you, that my philosophical doctrine for living life is; “do whatever it takes to get what needs to be done, done”. But how does one do that when we as a society haven’t had too? Well, the answer, for me anyway is because we have to.

When you are in the emergency services, you act in the face of tragedy.

A good example of this doctrine is this; I elected to let my children stay with their mother During this outbreak as they have some people living there with medical vulnerabilities. I felt it was best if we minimized our moving the children around.

Now, a few weeks in, I am really starting to feel the sting of that decision; I miss them so much. But, a parent’s job is to do what’s best for their children, no matter how painful. In this case, doing what’s best has been my ultimate sacrifice.

Nature doesn’t care about how we feel

As it stands right now, when I will be able to hug them again is anyone’s guess; The very thought of not knowing is heartbreaking for me. If it weren’t for video chat, phone calls and text messaging, this situation would be unbearable. That said, I’m no stranger to making pretty tough decisions.

Want more? Try A Small Window of Tolerence

Throughout my life, I have had little choice to build up my resilience. A skillset that I have built upon through my years-long battle with mental illness and my decade in a half’ serving as a firefighter

What has been most helpful to me in this regard is the fire service. When you are in the emergency services, you act in the face of tragedy and come to understand that tough decisions have to be made. Why? Because if you don’t, who will? And if you are unwilling, the outcome could be dire.

You got this! We will be ok.

I have made a lot of personal difficult determinations in my career and over my fifteen years, I learned that it didn’t matter how I felt. thus, over time, I became accustomed to doing what I had to for the greater good.

Want to hear stories from others battling mental illness. Go to The Depression Files.

Having PTSD as a result of my years of making unfortunate calls and seeing the chaotic side of humanity, I learned one other thing; that nature doesn’t care about how we feel, that we go through unspeakable hardships and unprecedented global health emergencies. It just doesn’t. Therefore, it’s incumbent on us to, no matter how hard it is, to make these pretty tough decisions.

tough decisions.

Don’t get me wrong, you’re allowed to feel and you are certainly allowed to be scared and worry. However, doing the greater good means we must act in the interests of everyone else around us despite it.

We have proven to ourselves that we are mental health warriors by tackling it each and every day. Now, we must do the same in the midst of this health emergency. Like we always say to one another when depression, PTSD, Anxiety, BDP etc. consumes us, you got this! We will be ok.

I want you to live: Go to Crisis Services Canada If you need help

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Contact: The Road To Mental Wellness