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Don’t let your illness define you

Don’t let your Illness define you.

Before you reading, Don’t Let Your Illness Define You, 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 remember the early days of the aftermath that altered the course of my life. When PTSD ravaged my mental well-being, leaving me in shambles in its aftermath. Becoming void of purpose and lacking direction, I realized that it was time to stop think and plan.

Because I decided to make a plan, I essentially created a direction to head in. So, where did this direction take me? Well, it took me here; to The Road To Mental Wellness. “Helping people by telling my story” became my compass, my therapy and ultimately, my saviour.

Finally, I was able to fill the void with purpose once more. I have been helping people for as long as I can remember so, this seemed a perfect fit; I would dedicate my limited energy to being a mental health advocate. But even this new-found purpose, as exciting as it was, came with its downsides.

Chief among them was my propensity to go full tilt with things I am passionate about. While putting energy into mental heath issues isn’t a bad thing, it can however, deplete this store of said limited energy in a hurry and that’s where things get problematic.

Are you a service member with PTSD living in Nova Scotia, retired or active? Need a break? Contact Rally Point Retreat

As it turns out, if you delve into something wholeheartedly, you can inadvertently get too close to it. As my psychologist rightly pointed out, “your illness doesn’t define you.” Her words produced a revelation in my brain. I hadn’t thought of it that way. I was simply thinking I was putting my energy in a positive cause; mental health avocation.

Don't let your illness define you
Photo by Anna Tarazevich on Pexels.com

Although it’s true that where I chose to put my mental resources was and still is a great thing, the algorithm of the internet hits you in the face, all the time. As a consequence, words like mental illness, PTSD, depression and anxiety cross my line of vision more than the beautiful surroundings I’m blessed to be living in.

Although I love helping others, I do have to prioritize my own recovery. Essentially, what I need, what we all need is balance. It’s vital for your mental health to walk away from this trap laid by algorithmic behaviours set by stupid social media. Furthermore, it’s good to have other hobbies and to actively pursue them.

How to achieve balance in your life.

Perhaps most important of all, don’t let your illness define you. You are much more than a diagnosis. You are an instrument of wonder and curiosity just waiting to explore that passion you have always thought you weren’t good enough for. I believe in you.

In those momenets

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

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Anxiety?

GENERALIZED ANXIETY?

Is the constant stress you are feeling generalized anxiety?

Mental illness, sometimes it plays by its own rules; making you feel dreadful in a moment and inexplicably sad in the next. I don’t know about you but I think it’s fair to call it mother nature’s roller coaster. While it can feel this way at times, there are ways to combat its impact. Exercise being one of the best ones.

Anyone with a mental health condition can tell you all about certain emotional experiences, such as dread or fear but what about the impact mental illness has on us that we may be less aware of? Or even worse, no awareness what’s so ever?

So, what do I mean when I say less aware? Well, lets use my own life’s experience as an example. Rather disappointingly, I find myself almost chronically worried that I have done something to make people upset with me. This sad way to live isn’t new to me. However, relating it to mental illness is.

Like what you are reading? Try, Anxiety in the New Age

Generalized anxiety disorder, a mental illness that makes one ruminate and worry over anything and everything is the likely culprit. Whist I have always known that GAD made me a worst-case scenario thinker, I never thought that it would make me obsess over making everyone around me upset. But honestly, when I think about it, it makes sense. It is after all, a form of obsessive worry which; obsessive worry can be driven by an anxiety disorder.

Why DO I suspect that it is part of my anxiety disorder?

To start with, it was the frequency in which I was feeling worried. Sadly, I was worried over each and ever interaction. No matter who it was or in what way we were interacting. From social media to meeting in person, the chronic feeling that somehow I was making someone upset with me was and still is overwhelming.

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If that weren’t enough, I would and still do, build an entire mythical future in my head as to why I “Thought” my friends and family were made at me. adding layers. “Maybe I message them too often, do I not talk to them enough?” My biggest fear? Well, that the person I’m communicating with doesn’t really like me and thus I am seen as a bother.

GENERALIZED ANXIETY?

As time went on, I began to notice that I became anxious interacting with, not one person, but everyone; the everyone part is key here becasue:

  1. It was everyone. Best friends, family, co-workers, firefighter colleagues etc.
  2. And it was constant. In fact, it was so prevalent that It began to scream at me like a giant electronic billboard. “NO ONE LIKES YOU, YOU’RE BOTHERING EVERYONE!”

Generalized anxiety was the culprit?

To reach an ultimate conclusion on the cause, I had to use mindfulness to bring myself into the here and now. By doing this, I was able to let the logic centres of my brain and ask the right questions:

  1. Is it really possible that everyone you interact with dislikes you? Similarly, can everyone you know view you as an inconvenience? Of course not.
  2. So, since it’s not very likely that no one wants to interact with you, what’s really going on? Does it this feeling lay within you?
  3. If, so, what’s going on?

Want to hear people tell their stories? Go to The Depression Files Podcast.

Since I had been diagnosed with GAD years ago, I rightfully concluded that I generalized anxiety was the culprit. With that said, having a diagnosis made it easier for me to conclude but you don’t have to be.

So, if you recognize similarities, perhaps what I have laid out here can help you uncover some underlying mental health condition you did know you had. Through the process of mindfulness, you can quell the emotions and negative self-talk and clear your mind so you can discern what’s really going on and move towards healing.

Note: If you think you may have a mental health disorder, contact your doctor, psychiatrist or a psychologist; they are all able to diagnose you and thereby help move you forward.

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

OR

Checkout our Mental Health Resources Page

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

Nightmare's aftermath

Nightmare’s aftermath

PTSD nightmares just cause everything to be worse I call it Nightmare’s aftermath

One of the trademark symptoms of PTSD is the nightmares; a patchwork of post-traumatic memories that lurk in the shadows during the day and wreak havoc throughout the night. Maybe what lurks in the shadows during the day are the flashbacks?

In my view, these nightmares can be the cornerstone of PTSD’s power. I believe this because when I wake up in the morning with a deep sense of dread, it’s the nightmare’s aftermath that can derail the entire day.

With that said, this aftermath, may not be on your radar as a reason for your heightened symptoms during the day; but they very well could be the cause; a thought worth exploring I would say.

Think you may have PTSD? Go here: Symptoms of PTSD.

If the nightmares in themselves weren’t enough, the lack of sleep from them is intolerable at times. These two factors are, for me, at least, a recipe for a very triggered day.

Like what you are reading? Try The Mental Health Work Injury

Every symptom is heightened; the startle response, the irritability, the flashback can be more pervasive and my mind thick with a mental fog. So thick in fact, that my thoughts strain to make their way through the merk.

The double-edged sword in all of this? The nightmare’s aftermath dominates the day. Not only because of the nightmares themselves but because of the overall lack of sleep.

So, essentially, the nightmares act as a terrifying ignition point and the lack of sleep is its steady state fire it produces. As many of you may already know, sleep is fundamental for good health and our mental health is no exception. In fact, a good night’s sleep is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your well-being; right up there with a good diet and exercise.

What can be done to quell the nightmares and get a good night’s sleep?

Fortunately, there are many things that can be done. For instance, getting a referral to a psychiatrist. I recommend them over a general practitioner simply because psychiatric disorders are their specialty. They can find the right meds to help you sleep and deal with the PTSD symptoms, like the nightmares.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com – Nightmare’s aftermath.

In addition, see a psychologist that has training in PTSD and its treatment approaches. They can train you in mindfulness and often have training in EMDER therapy; (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing). A therapeutic approach that has been found to work well with people with PTSD.

And finally, the big three, diet, exercise and connection. They will take you a long way to feeling like you again. I know, the last thing you want to do is put yourself out there but let me tell ya, it’s good for you. Let’s not let the PTSD run the show.

Of course, nothing is guaranteed to be a cure all but if we can get the nightmares under control, we will sleep better and our PTSD symptoms will be more manageable. The elation I feel when all of these elements come together is amazing. This is why I continue to fight every day. Life is better when you set out to defeat the nightmare’s aftermath.

Thanks for reading Nightmare’s aftermath Pre-order Lemonade Stand Vol. III today

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.

Lemonade Stand Vol. III
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