Mental Mess – Cleaning up

Mental mess

Does avoidance really make it better? Or does it leave a mental mess?

Time, they say it heals all wounds. While I’m not convinced of this, I’m sure there are many people who take comfort in the thought that the passage of time is some sort of healer. Perhaps for some it is. I can see it being helpful when the tides of life are high and things before one seem impossible to cope with one’s mental mess.

Ways to deal with our mental pain

With that said, from my perspective, its not time in itself that makes our darkest moments in life lighter. Rather, its what we do in a given period of time that can help facilitate the healing process. Is remaining idle really the best way to move past pain? Or, Is this the equivalent to burring it somewhere deep down?

I have always been a take action kind of guy. I ask myself, what I feel to be the most fundamentally important question. What do I have to do to fix this? In my view, avoidance is not a coping tool.

The danger of avoidance

We modern humans don’t like to feel uncomfortable. Slightly cold? Turn the heat up; have a bead of sweat on your brow? blast the A/C; And, If one feels any twinge of mental pain, avoid, avoid, avoid. Some will do whatever they must to wiggle their way around talking about things that remain hidden and thus unresolved.

I’m inclined to believe that ignoring it has the potential to be devastating.

While opening up about how own feels is undoubtedly very difficult and can illicit very strong emotional feelings, I have difficulties thinking of things in life that aren’t more difficult initially before they get better. Life is messy, any attempts to clean it up and make it better are always meet with a large challenge in the beginning. Just like the last time you cleaned up that pantry you’ve been avoiding for months. What did that feel like at first? Overwhelming right?

Despite feeling like an ocean wave is heading right for you, you understand that this task must be done, its driving you up the wall. But, as you tackle the clutter, do you feel worse or is the angst beginning to lift?

I’m willing to wager that the anxiety you feel is starting to dissipate as you can see that this tiny faction of your life’s problems is starting to become less and less chaotic. By the end of it you always feel better and are glad you dealt with it.

So, what’s this got to do with how one deals with their emotional self? Well, let’s replace the challenge of the pantry with the difficulties of mental illness. When one first comes face to face with a diagnosed mental health condition; how do they feel? For me, I was very overwhelmed, it was as though a giant wave was washing over me, I had no place to run. I had two choices, deal with it or ignore it. Would ignoring my diagnoses been wise? What happens when people do?

Since you are here, check out Post Traumatic Stress Tested In Real Time

I feel that ignoring symptoms makes life difficult. If one has depression for example, calling in sick all the time because its just too much is not solving the depressive episodes, its putting your living at risk. So in this instance, is not dealing really working? Considering the consequences of pretending your ok can be dire. In fact, I’m inclined to believe that ignoring it has the potential to be devastating.

Mental Mess

I will leave you with this; If you deal with what is slowly dismantling your life, you will see a reduction in the overwhelming anxiety that comes with simply living with the mess. If you work on your turmoil, will you see a gradual reduction in symptoms? When you have gotten it straightened out, will you feel a sense of accomplishment or will it feel worse? Of course, it’s for you to decide but I do know that you’ll never know unless you confront your mental mess.

The Power of PTSD Overtaken

Sometimes PTSD is just too strong

When one has suffered from the pangs of mental illness long enough, one can start to feel when the tide of normality has shifted, and an impending flood of diagnosed psychological symptoms are not far off and will make their inevitable return.

I can feel this shift within, right now as I commit to this blog post; it boils up from somewhere deep down as if the world around me was shaking my symptoms lose from my core. I hate it.
I am having real trouble negotiating my way through the world as of late, the sound of diesel trucks roaring by envoke anger and the sounds of sirens serve as a reminder for, not only what I have had to give up, but as so why I am where I am at present. PTSD is not kind and monumentally difficult to shut off.
Despite being overwhelmed, overstimulated and a bit agitated by my surroundings, I’m trying. I decided it would be a good idea to go for a walk but the everyday comings and goings of early morning town traffic were put in their place and taken over by loud, ear-piercing sirens. In the mental mindset, I am in, the wail of an ambulance caused a short blip in time. I disassociated, checked out for a moment and unfortunately for me, I missed the crosswalk that leads to a quiet and beautiful walking trail that surrounds a protected marsh.
When I mentally re-emerged, I realized that I had missed the route to the walking trail by a long shot and opted to walk the block instead. I was so overwhelmed by the world around me that It felt like it was some sort of battleground, every noisy car, every bang and clang feel like chaos to me, the world felt aggressive and I was feeling threatened by the noise of the traffic.

sadly,  I’m still being overtaken by a beast that I have yet tame. I am trying to reintegrate myself into a world that is far too busy to understand that people like me can’t thrive in a world that doesn’t see the damage that lies just below the skin. Again, I will carry on.

Treatment for PTSD

My lesson? It’s clear to me that I should have taken the time to venture back to the peace and serenity of the marsh because I knew how I was feeling, thus I knew what was best for me, yet I ignored it. Sometimes I think we push ourselves in this world because we want to be a part of it, to be OK with it.

I must accept that I am not as far along as I want to be, Accept that I can only take on the world in small doses. It’s maddening and it’s upsetting but at the same time, it is what it is. At least I know where I stand and I will continue to place my mental shield over my face and plow through my PTSD and the anxiety

Please, keep fighting the good fight, remember, it will take grit, getting to know your symptoms and what you can tolerate. Once you know your triggers and how you feel about them you can adapt at the moment to help you get closer to mental wellness.

if you are suffering from PTSD or another mental illness, please reach out. I thank you for your service and you are still worthy and mean something. I believe in you!

If you are struggling please go here: Crisis Services Canada

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

Trauma Specialist, Dr. Jeffery Hosick:

You may also enjoy: The Mental Health Work Injury Called PTSD

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Carbon Monoxide And PTSD.


It’s the middle of February in my home town in Nova Scotia, it’s minus thirty-four with the windchill and just beyond the warm cozy walls of my home, there are blizzard-like conditions raging with such ferocity that one can see but a few feet in front of them. I glance at the time, three A.M. then, the tones shatter the winter night’s silence. Jumping to my feet with the adrenaline flowing I make the treacherous trek to the fire hall, jump on a rig and spend hours in the frigid cold, soaked and frozen, tired and starving.

This scenario was repeated an untold number of times in my fifteen years as a firefighter. Many calls I responded to ended in tragedy; a few of them hit very close to home. What separates the volunteer fire service from any other volunteer organizations isn’t the time and dedication that goes into volunteering, it’s volunteering to run straight into the belly of your communities’ most dire moments, it’s very physically taxing. Also, in a moment your life can be changed forever. The difference is one requires you to sacrifice your time, whilst the other may require you to sacrifice your living, your family and even your life.

For some of us, however, something else happens. As one might well imagine, the things that one encounters as a firefighter takes a significant mental toll. Seeing things that no human should ever have to see, takes a physical toll by virtue of doing all you can to mitigate the suffering. But many, myself included have, and are experiencing a slow accumulation of a different form of exhaustion; A mental stress produced exhaustion.

This mental exhaustion is a by-product of each and every critical incident at least that’s how I experienced it. Known as critical incident stress; check the link for definition, it was slowly poisoning my mental health; first numbing the mind and body for a week or so, then dissipating until the next tragic scene.

For signs and symptoms of Critical Incident Stress check here:  Signs and symptoms of Critical Incident Stress

Looking back now, I never caught on that, even though I seemingly was over the last call and the call before that, these critical incidents were leaving a poisonous residue in their wake. Not only was there remanence of all the things I had witnessed, but it also turns out that these bits were far from benign. In fact, it’s effects are what I call the mental carbon monoxide. Carbon Monoxide is odourless, tasteless and slowly accumulates in the body and can have tragic consequences if gone undetected.

If one is unaware, keeps shoving it deep within and or your department fails to recognize the importance of early intervention, then what can happen is this slow build-up of mental pain that can go undetected for, in my case, years.

The damnedest thing about manning up is that this form of psychological work injury doesn’t care about your manhood, how busy you keep yourself and no matter how hard you try to avoid it. If not dealt with it will, like carbon monoxide, slowly accumulate. And like carbon monoxide, you can’t taste it, can’t smell it and if you can’t detect it you may very well suffer its tragic consequences. When it goes from short term (critical incident stress) to longer-term, Post-traumatic stress disorder, one can then consider themselves clinically sick from letting years and years of psychological trauma fester.

For some very helpful books on PTSDGo Here and take a look.

I have, unfortunately, fallen victim to the man up, tough guy mythology. Now, retired from the fire service and living with PTSD I can tell you that it’s a special kind of hell. Looking back now, PTSD is much harder to confront than it ever would have been to seek out help before the poison of this mental disorder hijacked my mental health and gave me little recourse but to fight for a sense of normality. Is suicide support and prevention resource: reach out if you need help!

If being a man is all about strength, then use your man strength to reach out. Your family with thank you for it… Make no mistake, this disorder, PTSD can have very deadly consequences if left to fester and spread.

 If you are in need of help please reach out to your local mental health professional. A non-profit organization dedicated to helping those with mental illness.

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

You may also enjoy: You, Me And PTSD

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