when things went south.

When Things Went South

Like many, I never gave too much thought to my life veering off course; Afterall, nothing bad ever happens, right? To begin with, I naively believed in the, from A to B linear line of success; School, career, kids etc and oh, saving for retirement. Because I believed In this my, well-planned life, I had no defence when things went south.

Well, guess what? As my adult life was busy chasing after my socially constructed reality, everything did indeed hit the ground in a blazing ball of fire. The thing is, no one prepares you for the harsh realities that life throws at you.

We are like modern tech in a sense.

Sure, those who came before you may say, “Life is tough” but then they emphasize how you can be whatever you want in life. The beautiful story right? In reality, you can only affect your destiny so much, after that, the wild card called life gets played.

In my case, the wildcard was an adult, life long battle with mental illness. Knowing this now, The question I ask myself most, is why didn’t I see it coming? First off, the Disney like illusion really does little to help you cope and secondly, my life choices fed the beast within.

I now understand many of the factors that got me here

Perhaps, equally to blame, was my wiring. We are like modern tech in a sense, so complicated; that we only use the functions we are most familiar with.

In other words, we are by no means experts on the tech we carry around in our pockets. Similarly, we are only partly aware of what makes us tick. What this does is leave us with a limited understanding of who we are. In my case, when I was young I didn’t understand that I was an empath. Heck, I had no idea what that even was.

It wasn’t until things went south and I was diagnosed with PTSD that I dove into what makes me, me. My diagnosis prompted one very important question; Why did I fall from grace? Well, the short answer is, being overly sensitive to stimulus coupled with my career and volunteer choices. These factors took my life and ran it into the ground.

As it turns out, being highly sensitive and firefighting aren’t compatible with one another. In addition, I worked in a long-term care facility where people with severe behavioural difficulties; turns out, this occupation is also incompatible with a more sensitive disposition.

Overall, I know I’m better off for learning this when things went south.

Of course, I now understand many of the factors that got me here; knowledge I wish I would have had years ago. All I knew then was that I wanted to help others, that was it.

So, here I am, less hair and more wisdom; still, I can’t help but wonder if I would have altered my life’s course had I known that a guy like me was more than likely to suffer from these choices. That I’m afraid, is something that simply cannot be answered. In fact, it really isn’t worth dwelling on.

With that said, honestly, I would have hoped the twenty-something me would have chosen a different path; still helped others, just in a more personality friendly way. Whatever the case, its a moot point now as I know that these chapters in my story are already written.

While I can’t change my past, my newly acquired self-awareness can propel me into a better future; however, I can only achieve this if I can master living my best life in the now.

While I’m far from being well enough to take on new possibilities with any regularity, I chose to remain hopeful. Overall, I know I’m better off learning these painful lessons when things went south; now, I can build a new normal.

In crisis? Call 1.833.456.4566 | Text 45645 (Crisis Services Canada) Crisis Services Canada

Want to help make my book a reality? Donate here: GoFundMe

Contact us: The Road To Mental Wellness

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When the fog rolls in

When The Fog Rolls In

If you happen to be in touch with your mental illness(s), you know when a storm is brewing. A mental health storm, at least from my experience, has a certain familiarity to them. You just know when the fog rolls in that it may decide to hold you captive.

In my case, I can tell you exactly when my PTSD has acquired enough strength to highjack my wellness. While it may be true that I am often oblivious to the cause, even still, I attribute its source to a forgotten nightmare. Why? Because its symptoms often set in after I wake.

It is under these circumstances when I feel it’s often too late to prevent a full-blown traumatic episode.

All I do know is that when the fog rolls in, its near impossible to mount a defence. This of course, isn’t every time but when it’s especially thick, often, my only option is to hunker down and wait it out.

Not surprisingly, my major PTSD episodes start out with a consistent feeling. A feeling of dread that lingers off in the distance when I first wake. I find it very similar to when I was staring face to face with a traumatic incident; leading me to believe that something dreadful followed me back into this reality.

Full list of PTSD symptoms.

It is for this reason that I feel forgotten nightmares are responsible. I have reached this conclusion because more often than not, it comes for me in my slumber.

It is under these circumstances when I feel it’s often too late to prevent a full-blown traumatic episode; as the fog rolls in, no amount of mindfulness can fight it off. Similarly, I find any other form of therapy ineffective.

Want to read the perspective of another mental health blogger? Go to Encourage Green

Needless to say, trying to navigate my way through this heavy brain fog is difficult at best and completely impossible at worst. Ironically, it’s the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder themselves that are to blame.

Need help? check out our mental health resources page here

With these symptoms, there seems to be a sequence to them. They are as follows:

  1. A deep sense of dread upon awakening (whether I remember the nightmare or not).
  2. Level 10 brain fog.
  3. An increase of my fight, flight or freeze response.
  4. Thus, turning up the dial of my startle response.
  5. Easily irritated or angered.
  6. Find everything overwhelming.
When the fog rolls in

So, if you were to ask me which PTSD symptom is the most difficult, I would say, in short, all of them. However, with that said, being easily overwhelmed and the inherent startle response, is, without a doubt the ones that put me out of commission.

So, what’s the remedy?

The only thing I can offer in the way of advice if you go through something similar is to do nothing. Moreover, learn to be ok with that.

Despite what we think, we are human, not superhuman and because of that, we must learn to understand PTSD, depression, anxiety and many other mental health conditions are going to win a battle every now and then; that my friend is a fact.

Ask yourself this; Can I have a day here and there to just ride the wave? I’m happy to say that it works for me and it too can work for you. In my case, It’s effective because I feel zero guilt and not an ounce of shame. I’m sick and I’m done pretending otherwise.

Ways to be self-compassionate

I truly hope that the next time the fog rolls in that you will be kind to yourself. The storm will pass and as long as you’re not running away from it every day; riding it out can be the best thing for your mental health.

In crisis? Call 1.833.456.4566 | Text 45645 (Crisis Services Canada) Crisis Services Canada

Want to help make my book a reality? Donate here: GoFundMe

Contact us: The Road To Mental Wellness

End of another chapter

end of another chapter

Early last week, I had an over the phone appointment with my psychiatrist. It was brief and bittersweet. Little did I know, at the start of the conversation, that this appointment would be my last. She explained to me that she had done all she could. Finally, I’ve come to the end of another chapter.

The long road we travelled together, started in 2018, barely a month after I went off work. I consider myself lucky; we meshed right from the start. However, it would turn out that my relationship with the SSRIs she prescribed, would do anything but get along with me.

What makes a good therapist

Moreover, I would put myself through a pharmaceutically induced hell. As fate would have it, nearly every treatment option failed. Despite this, I soldiered on Pill after pill, I clung to the hope that this time, this would be the one; the one that eased my depression, minimize the toucher that comes with PTSD and ultimately saving my life.

this little tiny pill would become a double-edged sword.

Alas, this was not to be and no matter the level of hope, it was soon dashed by the results; or should I say the lack thereof. Fortunately, it wouldn’t take long for my psychiatrist to figure out what my Achilles heel

So then, what was it that made this aspect of my healing journey such a difficult one? Well, Ironically, it was a medication. I have epilepsy and have been on an anticonvulsant since I was thirteen.

Read Medication, at an Impasse

With it, came an opportunity to plan out and live a normal life because it, lucky for me, completely controlled my seizures. Even to this very day, I am grateful for the life it gave me.

However, this little tiny pill would become a double-edged sword for me. While I got through my day to day relatively unscathed because of it, my slow and slippery slide into the realm of mental illness would be complicated by it.

End of another chapter.

I have been fortunate to have lived the life i have.

As fate would have it, the anticonvulsant I am on would prevent almost all attempts to help me moderate the symptoms of my mental health conditions; for the most part at least. How ironic, a medication that helps me to live was now hindering my healing.

On the positive side, my psychiatrist went the distance with me. She could have handed my care back over to my GP much sooner but wanted to find a solution. Although finding the med that worked for me was largely trial and error; I would have to say that many months of sedation and other side effects were worth it in the end. My psychiatrist was awesome and did her utmost to help; even advocating for me in other ways; often contacting WCB on my behalf. Although this is essentially the end of another chapter, I can move on knowing that we both put up a good fight.

So please, Don’t give up on yourself.

Despite the battle, we did, however, find some meds that somewhat help. Sure, I could be disappointed but I choose to be grateful. While they may not be wonder drugs, they do help quell the suicidal ideation. Personally, I’d call that a win. My friends, going the distance does indeed pay off.

So then, what’s the moral of this chapter in my life? Well, firstly, I now know that if you persist and advocate for yourself, you will eventually get the help you need. Furthermore, I have come to learn that there are some committed, compassionate mental health professionals out there who only want to help and make a difference.

So please, Don’t give up on yourself, the system our the professionals, for they may help you get to the end of another chapter.

Want to help make my book a reality? Donate here: GoFundMe

Contact: The Road To Mental Wellness

In Between The RainDrops
Trying to adapt to life once diagnosed with a mental illness, can …
When Things Went South
We are raised that if we work hard enough, we can be …
ignored the signs of mental illness.
A message for all my fire service colleagues and you too. IF …
When The Fog Rolls In
Often times, when the fog rolls in it grips you so tightly …