The way I deal

The Way I Deal with Pain

Everyone has a process For dealing with personal emergencies. Here, I discuss the way I deal

Within the last year I have had two close calls where family members have been seriously sick or injured. While I will leave out the details, what I will say is; I am so very lucky that they are still here to hug.

So then, why am I going through the trouble of being this to your attention? Well, because I wanted to share my process of coping. Once I looked at it, the way I dealt with both incidents, I was surprised; although admittedly, looking back, I shouldn’t have been.

But as they say, hindsight is 20/20 and for me, refection is where I do most of my learning. As far as I can tell, I dealt with them in several ways; which is to say, initially, I didn’t deal with either incident at all.

Furthermore, in their aftermath, I forgot to look after myself; not surprising, after all, that’s what us helpers do, right? While this may be true, I think there can be no denying that its super unhealthy.

Healthy ways to cope when dealing with family medical emergencies

In light of my helper Achilles heel, not looking after myself, I have recently wondered; why I deal or, rather, don’t deal with emergencies well anymore?

Firstly, the helper, “I’ll be ok” method of dealing has always been the norm for me. However, since I have been diagnosed with PTSD, my process has mutated in a sense. If that weren’t bad enough, my years in the fire service also mess with my healing; As such, a slow degradation of my mental health has instilled terror in me over the slightest possibility of crisis in my life.

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So, after much thought, I have come up with my own list of stages and factors of how I deal with emergency situations; especially personals ones. Maybe they will heal in some why. Furthermore, I will explain to you how I deal with a depressive or traumatic episode.

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Photo by Vladislav Murashko on – the way I deal

The stages during and after a personal emergency – The way I deal

  1. Autopilot

This is a term I learned in the fire service. It’s a great term to use because it perfectly sums up where a firefighters head goes when responding/tending to an emergency. Basically, autopilot is switched on by the need to mitigate a given incident; autopilot, when engaged, puts one in the “What do we have to do to get this done mode” In other words, it cancels out the background noise of what’s going on. This comes in handy because the last thing one needs is to be distracted by the chaos, the blood, the sounds, the fact that another human is in distress and so on.

What I have discovered is this; I remain conditioned to this autopilot feature; even long after my years in the service. So, when an emergency arises like those in my family for example, this switch gets flipped. A wonderful feature when in the emergency, but afterwards, not so much. when autopilot stays in the on position well beyond the incident itself, it always does more harm than good.


2. Gratitude

As I had mentioned, both incidents turned out for the better. Whenever this happens, I can’t help but feel grateful for it. So much so, I feel a strong sense of happy. Now, when I talk to my family members, I call attention to them and think about just how lucky I am to still have them. This in itself is a wonderful way to think. There is however, only one problem though; my major depressive disorder. I bet you’re wondering, “how can being grateful possibly have a bad side, even with depression?” Well, firstly, it in itself isn’t a bad thing, but a depressive mindset can corrupt it in a sense. Essentially, depression turns it into a trigger point with its negative dialogue. I always practice gratitude despite it though because it can make a depressive episode shorter. I know, it’s complicated.


Now, we can’t forget PTSD’s role in all this. Sadly, I can be shot down the rabbit hole of post-traumatic hell if I’m not careful. To be more specific, If I don’t manage it well, it will come for me. With my guard down and my thoughts preoccupied, It can easily invade my dreams, morphing them into nightmares; making flashbacks more vivid and turn me into a hypervigilance, easily started hot mess.

Complete List Of PTSD symptoms

4. The Crash

Finally, at the end of all, I crash and crash with the might of a meteor. In this stage, my bed becomes my safe harbour and I fully embrace it; for a short time, I give in. Hitting a low happens when the unseen symptoms of PTSD and depression overtake me, sucking out my life force until lifting my head is a monumental task.

But…. There is hope – the things I do to recover

  1. The Reset

Can being down and out, secluded in bed for a time be a good thing? Well, yes and no. Firstly, if you choose to make your darkness you home for extended periods of time, this is not healthy, however, if you give yourself permission to take a day or two, it can be a great reset. Myself, I will never bend to its will, therefore, I get my ass moving again as soon as possible

Now, this doesn’t mean that I am operating at full capacity either; it means I know how far to push myself. For example, I usually start out small, hanging around the house, maybe write a little etc. Then, I will force social contact. For instance, I go to a quiet café with a friend. This is a fairly typical strategy for me. After that I dial up my busy or dial it down, it all depends on my mental disposition at any given moment.

2. Forced Social Contact

As I mentioned, after the reset, I force myself to be social. While it might not seem appropriate, it is in fact, the only way I get to have so semblance of a life. Again, its essential to know your aliments and your own personal limits. Once one knows them, you can reintegrate as tolerated. Similarly, one can pull back when needed.

3. Continued support from mental health professionals.

The Most effective treatments for mental illness

What’s been fundamental in learning my own limits and how my mental illnesses impact me, has been therapy. A necessity in my books. Furthermore, with the guidance of my psychologist, I have built better mindfulness skills and other tools that have helped strengthen my resilience. With the use of EMDR and cognitive behavioural therapy for example, I have slowly worked towards conditioning my cognition to overcome my symptoms.

Check out below for books on mindfulness, EMDR and cognitive

behavioural therapy

4. Use The Coping tools

We all know that if we don’t use tools we can fix what’s broken. The same is true of acquired coping tools. For me, the tendency at first was to give up on them; sighting that they “don’t work”. But skill building takes time, regardless of the skill. In my case, I had to learn to be kind to myself. Remember, healing is a marathon, not a race. With they said, medications can be helpful for many. Sadly, I was not open to the idea of origin, but I ended up being in so much mental pain that I ended up saying yes to them, desperate to dull the pain. They work, at ;east somewhat. Because of them, I can better cope with the suicidal ideation.

5. Rest

Having all the above mentioned things in place, allows for a rapid recharge if you will. Thankfully, this has reduced my stents in bed and has given me the strength to overcome mental illnesses’ persuasive talk.

Thanks to the hard work and determination to do what ever it takes to get better; I recognize that falling victim to my mental health conditions won’t get me down the road to mental wellness. Understanding that secluding myself for long periods of time is what depression wants, I can now rest when I need to without fearing that I will remain there.

A healthy bout of rest (a day or two) is best.

You can read all about other people’s stories at Sick Not Weak

6. Exercise

Finally, but no less important is exercise. I often refer to physical activity as mother nature’s medication. Why? Simply put, it makes me feel great. In fact, it can shorten any downtime I experience. And the beauty of it all? The options are endless. From walking, to running, to lifting weights to yoga; there is such a variety that its very likely that you can find something that works for you.

Below are some options to help get you started on your fitness journey

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the way I deal
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For me, running melts away anxiety better than any medication can but with that said, all forms of exercise have a positive effect. As a result, I will never regret putting myself through it.

Different forms of physical activity

Well, there it is for all the world to see, this is the way I deal when I go through tragedy

In closing, I have learned that the healing process requires action, therefore, whether I want to or not, I must do! From my perspective, action is where the solution lays. The above mentioned items are the way forward.

Jonathan Arenburg
Jonathan Arenburg

Jonathan Arenburg is a mental health blogger, writer and published author; appearing in the i’Mpossible’s Lemonade Stand III. He has also been a contributing writer for Mental health talk, a column in his local paper. In addition, he has also written for the mental health advocacy organization; Sick Not Weak.

Jonathan has also appeared on several mental health-related podcasts Including: A New Dawn, The Depression Files and Men Are Nuts Since being put off work because of PTSD, Jonathan has dedicated his time to his mental wellness journey while helping others along the way.

In Crisis? Go to Crisis Services Canada
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I will never bend to its will

I will never bend to it’s will

I will never bend to its will, to my mental illness. These things help me stay on top of the fight

Just days ago I celebrated my forty-fifth birthday. With another year tacked on in this one way trip, I can’t help but reflect on my life. I suppose natural as we age and as far as I can tell, it’s a good thing.

Of course, I find my first thought being that of, “where did the time go.” I mean, man, I’m keeping close to living half a century.

Even though many people find this though stressful, I, on the other hand am damn lucky to be here. For I have very nearly opted to end my life-long struggle with my taxing mental pain. However, I often here myself saying, “I will never bend to its will.

By this I mean, I will keep fighting depresson’s speak, anxiety insistence that it wants to be my friend, and PTSD, well, F@#$ you too! Luckily, I have built a great support system, both through personal connection and professional help.

Ways to alleviate mental illness

It goes almost without saying that this is the foundation for my resolve; because of them, I will keep moving forward. At the same time, I know that I may never escape from the long arm of my mental health conditions; it’s imperative that I am honest with myself about that. Yes, I will have episodes of depression, traumatic episodes too, but I accept that.

The question for me then became; How do I manage these mental illness episodes?

Much to my relief, it turns out that a lot can be done.

For starters, exercise is what I call mother nature’s medication for me. Hitting the gym four days a week is an amazing mood booster. Not only does it boost my mood, it gives me energy to boot.

benefits of exercise

Read:You can’t ignore PTSD

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What this does for me is hold me accountable to ensure that I will never bow to its will, this painful thing called mental illness.

Additionally, I have found mindfulness to be a lifesaver in a sense; although I must admit that the noise of the outside world overruns my attempts to be “in the moment”. Despite this, I find it successful when in low to moderate stimulation.


Perhaps one of the most beneficial things that help me cope is a good diet. Despite knowing that, on the surface, I know eating well is good for you; I personally failed to see just how well a balanced diet works to alleviate mental illness symptoms… It really is transformational.

So, there you have it, the three main tools I implement to minimize my depressive and PTSD episodes. Why not try for yourself and see?

Order Lemonade Stand Vol. III here

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

The What’s Wrong Scanner
Then, the what's wrong scanner booted up. Have you ever gone along …
To look forward is to look into your past.
The Way I Deal with Pain
Everyone has a process For dealing with personal emergencies. Here, I discuss …
This could be the key to moving FORWARD
This could be the key to moving forward. Let your passion be …

Where you put your energry

Where You Put Your Energy

Where you put your energy can make a big difference on your healing.

Before you reading, Where You Put Your Energy, 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

As I roll up to the coffee shop not far from my hometown I feel a wave of fear come over me. Is it going to be noisy in there? Or will it be absolute chaos? While I feel like I’m being held down in my front seat of my car, I decide that I value my good friend, who is waiting inside too much to simply drive away.


Since 2016 this is pretty much how I’ve lived my life. Long sabbaticals away from the public; far removed from the noise and chaos. However, I refuse to be a slave to PTSD.

As I’ve said many times before, we get to choose where we put our energy. Regardless of what we have in the tank, it can still be used to propel us forward. The important question is; “Do I put what limited energy I do have into constant rumination, angst and fear? or do I maximize it on living?

Where you put your energy
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While I know that we can’t always bust through the fear and anxiety of, let’s say, the outside world, I have found that I can ill afford to be torched by what goes on in my head either. Therefore, if both are dire, I might as well make the best of it.

So, I set goals and I commit to doing what I’m doing tonight. For example, I have a short list of people that I will muster up my limited energy for. Which is why I am sitting in this parking lot this evening. I’m meeting a very close friend that is worth the torment of the surrounding goings-on. I make time for the people on this list even when I don’t feel like it.

How to best manage your mental illness.

Consequently, however, it often makes how I am feeling worse. But as I have come to learn in my life, understanding that being uncomfortable is part of life; therefore, it should be dealt with, not avoided. For me, this is so fundamental to my survival.

As counterintuitive as it sounds, placing your limited energy into what makes you uncomfortable can enrich your life and help you on your own road to mental wellness. How? Well, I frequently look back on moments I spent with friends, family etc, with fondness and with a sense of accomplishment.

For a moment, I beat my anxiety and the symptoms of PTSD. And because I chose to put my energy into something as amazing as a coffee with a great friend, I, for that moment in time felt the illusive feelings of normalcy.

So, where will you put your limited energy?.

anxiety or ADHD

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 first look at it.

Order Lemonade Stand Vol. III

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


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The What’s Wrong Scanner
Then, the what's wrong scanner booted up. Have you ever gone along …
To look forward is to look into your past.
The Way I Deal with Pain
Everyone has a process For dealing with personal emergencies. Here, I discuss …
This could be the key to moving FORWARD
This could be the key to moving forward. Let your passion be …