What you don't see

What You Don’t See

Pics on social media are cool but its what you don’t see that’s most important.

People who see my Facebook account will see, for the most part, my face with a smile on it; or perhaps there are they’ll come across pictures of me out for a bike ride or me at the gym. I look like I got the world by the ass, right? Wrong! Don’t be fooled. Although it may seem like I’m enjoying life to the max, it’s what you don’t see that tells my actual story.

In reality, what’s going on beyond the one-tenth of me you see in photos; is but the tip of the iceberg. When I took the fire safety officer course, many moons ago, they taught us something that resonated with me. They taught us this: Perception is always reality and man, this is so very true.

So, what am I talking about? Well, simply put, what you see with your eyes doesn’t always marry up with the assumptions you conclude. Getting back to my smiley faces and gym poses on social media, the real question here is; “Am what I am seeing actually what’s what’s really representative of what’s actually going on?”

Sadly, in my case, the answer is no. As much as I want these pictures to represent me as a fun-loving, active guy who has his shit together, it would be a foolish to believe. Firstly, let me say that I am indeed a fun-loving, and active fella, however, to say I have my life together, is not at all what those pictures suggest.

The impact of social media photos on our mental health.

Underneath the flesh and bone and bouncing around in my nervous system is the mental health disorder called PTSD. If that weren’t enough, my brain has been afflicted with a huge dose of major depressive disorder; Crappy.

What you don't see
Photo by Raphael Brasileiro on Pexels.com

What you don’t see is the days and sometimes weeks that I am living in a tiny bedroom, burnout form PTSD’s symptoms and exhausted from depression. In this state, just looking at my phone can seem daunting. This is my reality, often, I am broken.

Want to listen to people’s mental health journeys? Go to A New Dawn podcast.

Remember, a smile, an action shot on a bicycle or even a statement pronouncing one’s gratitude, can be deceiving. Furthermore, making judgments about what you see in a photograph is not justification to conclude anything really.

The Road To Mental Wellness is made possible in part by readers like you… thank you for your support.

My truth? My pictures are proof of my incessant desire to get moving forward. Getting down the road to mental wellness requires action so, when I’m able I do. That’s what you are seeing. A forced smile, may help others, a chronicle of my good days may inspire someone else to fight their own inner turmoil. That’s my hope. Plus, let’s not forget, when one has a blog and is an author, one must make the most of their good days to get content out there and sustain it.

Now you know my truth when it comes to my health and social media activity. What’s your story behind the pic?

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!

Lemonade stand
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

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Trending buzz words

Trending buzz words?

If it takes a village to raise children, then it takes a nations people to tackle its injustices. Not trending buzz words.

COVID-19 at its peak was tough on so many all over the world. So much worry in fact, there were tons of talk on mental health. People, experts and lay person alike wondered about the pandemic’s impact on our mental well-being. My question now is; where did all the buzz and concern go? Are we a society full of two minute trends and trending buzz words?

If this is indeed the case, I have some real concerns around emulating the behaviours of social media’s algorithms. Firstly, if we are to tackle or most pressing social concerns like mental illness, how do we get anywhere if it falls off the radar faster than a supersonic jet?

The Road To Mental Wellness is made possible in part by readers like you… thank you for your support.

I’m afraid we can’t. Even though a few of us, in comparison to the total population, still champion the cause, most are moved on to the next three-minute outrage. While I am proud of the work we are all dong as mental health advocates, is it enough?

How to advocate for those with mental illness

I think it’s time that we recognize the destructive power of mental illness, Not only is it damaging to the individual but it’s impact on all of us is too large to be a treading buzz word. Furthermore, we need to work on understanding how events around us shape the mental health landscape.

people doing group hand cheer
Photo by Dio Hasbi Saniskoro on Pexels.com

So dark and dreary are the times we live in. I feel like there is no end to the medias insistence on feeding us all things trauma related. It’s unrelenting. If that weren’t bad enough, some see nothing wrong with posting a video depicting a violent act, they are everywhere. Personally, I feel like gory images do little in the way of getting justice overall because it leaves many more damaged and suicidal.

I think it’s fair to say that mental illness can spread like a virus; fed by exposure to every conceivable tragic story. But also, it worsens by our refusal as a society to ensure we or someone we know aren’t the next victim of the mental illness pandemic. We can accomplish great things if we do so as a collective.

Having PTSD myself, I go further into my shell with all this chaos. I do so simply because it feels inescapable to me. I’m sure many others feel the same. Sadly, while showing the darkest disparities of humanity on social media isn’t likely to go away, it tells me one thing, more help is needed.

Like what you are reading? Try Find Time To Do What You Love.

My friends, the outcry around mental illness needs to be more than a flash in the pan; the talk needs to be more than trending buzz words, it needs to be a battle taken on by the majority, every day. We don’t only lose people to the virus, we also lose an untold amount because of the mental suffering brought on by it…. Please be safe!

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!

Lemonade Stand
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

rendered me useless

Rendered Me Useless

As I rose from yet another sleepless night, I was hit with an overwhelming feeling of anxiety. This seemingly out the blue spike in angst shot through me and in an instant, rendering me useless. Thankfully, I was able to knock it down a peg or two before it highjacked my entire day.

Even though I was able to defeat the demon within, at least for now, I was still left with why did it happen? My therapist tells me that trying to figure out its source is irrelevant; it’s more important that I focus on the “now” and working on ways to reduce its grip. By using therapeutic techniques like mindfulness I can get through most mental health-related incidents. But not always.

Having spent years in the fire service, I am primed to act, not just sit like some sort of spectator.

Despite what the therapist tells me, I have made it my life’s work to overthink and find solutions for everything that runs through my head. Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to obsess or consume my time trying to find its source. Rather, it found me. Usually uncovering the answer provides me with some relief; not so in this case.

Symptoms of an anxiety disorder.

So then, what set my anxiety ablaze? The answer is simple, Covid! Covid-19. Its everywhere and the fear it produces barrows it’s way into my head and becomes all-consuming. This virus is much more than a two-week fad on social media, in fact, it has been quoted as being the new normal, at least for the for seeable future.

I am anxious, not because of my anxiety disorder itself, but because, my PTSD has rendered me useless

If I were to be more specific about the source of my episode with angst, I would have to say that I’m impacted by two things. Firstly, I must confess that I am constantly being triggered by the bombardment of updates; the news constantly fuels my mental illness fire. Post-traumatic stress disorder hates this sort of stuff. Secondly, I am and always will be a helper. Thankfully, I am still able to help others in the capacity of a mental health blogger and advocate, which is I am grateful for. However, I am primmed to act in times like these. My many years as a firefighter have conditioned me to be this way. Making order out of chaos is our specialty. Sadly, in my mind, these two factors have rendered me useless.

Rendered Me Useless
rendered me useless

Want to hear people speak about their mental health journey? Go here The Depression Files With Al Levin

In addition, my years working in long term care saw there own moments of turmoil. There have been many times in my career where my colleges and I have gone toe to toe with a virus or two. Mentally taxing and physically exhausting, it was all-out war We did our best to tend to the sick and tried to isolate people the best we could.

Looking back on my life, I had made a career out of combating the worst of the worst. Sure, it pales in comparison to what the world is going through now in terms of scale, nonetheless, my years putting my own mental and physical health on the line to help others gives me a glimpse into what is happening around the world. For me, it’s not hard to see why my anxiety was so high.

Not being able to help is my new normal.

I can only conclude that today, I am anxious, not because of my anxiety disorder itself, but because, my PTSD. It has rendered me useless in our darkest time of need. That is a very hard reality to accept. When you couple that with the stress of knowing what it’s like, working in these trenches, I can’t help but worry about my former colleges, my family and my friends. Please be safe everyone.

I also can’t help but think of people who are in the same boat as me. The former firefighters, paramedics, nurses and doctors who have been injured by their jobs and now watch from afar; stricken with a life long affliction with trauma and are fighting it now more than ever. I salute you!

With that said, we can still do our part to stop the spread of covid; we can do this by following the rules of social distancing, washing our hands and isolate ourselves if need be. Literally, the less we do, the more help we will be. In these most uncertain times, this is how we minimize the chaos and serve our communities.

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

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

Contact: The Road To Mental Wellness