Hang in, there is hope.

Hang in, there is hope.

For those with PTSD, sleep can be their enemy; plagued by a past, one that steps into their dreamland and tears through it like a tornado. Hang in, there is hope.

While there is some sort of expectation that I will remember the nightmares from my attempts at slumber, this is simply not the case. What it does is bring me back to the realm of the woken world is an intense, heavy feeling that denies me a great night’s sleep. This, of course, rejuvenates PTSD’s other life interrupting symptoms. There is hope!

The eyes deceive us, for the only know what’s in front of them.

While my past traumatic events follow me around like some lost demon puppy, there is an upside. I know, you’re thinking; Whaaat! but hear me out. First off, trauma sucks, always… But I am grateful that I experience a reprieve from its torture. I am glad to have those good days and sometimes, great weeks.

Now, with that said, I find this dastardly bastard has its hands wrapped around what was a long period of peace, systematically throwing me back into a terrifying yet familiar place.

Hang in, there is hope.

Luckly, I am a keen observer and can sort of tell when my memories of rendering aid to others in my fire service days, is slowly boiling its way to the surface. I gues the best way to communicate this to the outside of the mental illness world, is like this:

Listen to more mental health related stories at Men Are Nuts podcast

In modern times, we know when there’s a huge storm heading our way. And while it may be wreaking havoc hundreds of miles away, we still are, at least, cognitively aware that it is coming.

However, to look outside your window, you would never know. Perhaps where you are is sunny with blue skies dominating over your head. For, me, I think to myself; “It’s hard to believe that there is a storm heading our way.” Visually, the eyes deceive us, for the only know what’s in front of them.

However, as the storm gets closer, we start to see suttle changes; the blue sky is colored in by an ever-darkening shade of grey and a breeze is now detectable upon our face. And as the storm draws closer, so too does our anxiety intensify; until finally the storm has descended down on us.

A storm, it is a brewin

This real-world occurrence perfectly describes the mental health storm that slowly bares down on me at times. It does so in the following ways:

  1. Firstly, I start off with the most beautiful of days; I feel so good in fact, I almost feel cured.
  2. Then though, as time passes and as I encounter the busyness of the world, I start to feel the storm blowing in; slowly but surely.
  3. As my anxiety rises from the impending storm, I feel my startle response become heightened to the degree where every sudden movement, ever little noise, brings me out of my chair. It’s usually at this juncture that the flashbacks occur. (the storm is moving in).
  4. Finally, nightmares, little sleep, and a very low tolerance for any sort of interaction ensues; this is the hight of the PTSD storm and the point where I seek safety, my bedroom. At this point, the only thing I can do is hunker diwn and wait for the storm to pass.

Looking for help? Go to our Mental Health Resources Page

The take away? Well, I have learned a lot by having this sort of ebb and flow or up and down if you will. As a result, I now know that, like storms in real life, mental health storms pass aswell.

While this may be true, it certainly doesn’t feel that way when you’re encountering the full force of post-traumatic stress disorder. What I try to do is keep in mind that I have ALWAYS weathered the storm.

So, with a survival rate of a hundred percent, I can say that I am doing awesome; I am happy to be here to have written this. Similarly, if you are reading this, then you also have a hundred precent survival success rate, I’m so happy that you’re here; Hang in, there is hope.

Like what you read? Then the book I help write as a contributing author may be for you:

Lemonade-III-Front
20 stories of those from Military and or emergency services.
pre order today!

About the Book

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 their 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!

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Lemonade Stand Vol. III on The Road To Mental Wellness.

This too shall pass.

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If you are struggling please go here: Crisis Services Canada

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

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

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Emergency service PTSD

Emergency Service PTSD

Not All wounds bleed.

It takes a different breed of person to be a volunteer firefighter. The time commitment in non-emergency operations alone is tremendous; In fact, Responding to calls makes up a very small percentage of one’s volunteer time.

Sadly, It is this small window of the hours logged that can have the most detrimental impact on a firefighter’s well being. Of course, there are the obvious physical dangers in firefighting; running into a burning building is serious business that’s for sure. Even though I was well aware of the potential physical danger, I was oblivious to the silent injury rarely discussed; the mental injuries I call emergency service PTSD.

This, not so well known injury that some firefighters are impacted by is a debilitating injury known as  Post Traumatic-Stress disorder (PTSD) A tragic consequence of helping one’s community; unfortunately for some, It can end up being their ultimate sacrifice.

the notion that “a” single traumatic event is a must when diagnosing PTSD.

It’s quite understandable, we, those in the emergency services, see things that no human should ever have to see. However, someone has to step forward and do it. While this may be true, all these brave souls can hope for is that they get to the end of their service relatively unscathed. But for those not so lucky, It can be heartbreaking, mind-numbing and something that keeps them up at night.

Great Podcast recommendation: Bunker Gear For The Brain

I am by no means an expert on trauma and PTSD, however, I live it every day and as a result, my path to my mental health injury was likely not incident-specific.

20 former military and emergency services tell their story, that of their struggle with PTSD. Pick up your copy below.

Therefore, I tend to believe that there may be room to include emergency service PTSD in a category that reflects the damage inflicted; damage that comes as a result of being witness to multiple critical incidents. Exposure over an extended period of time doesn’t seem to fit the criteria the DSM-5 Diagnostic and Statistics Manual is looking for.

The American Psychiatric Association defines post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD) as a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist attack, war/combat, rape or other personal violent assaults.

Think you might have PTSD? GO HERE.

EMERGENCY SERVICE PTSD

Because EMS workers tend to have prolonged and repetitive exposure, the notion that “a” single traumatic event is a must when diagnosing PTSD, may not do these brave souls justice. In fact, it may leave a portion of the traumatized diagnosed because it may be hard to discern that one particular incident.

Like what you are reading? Try PTSD and It’s Startle Response

From my own experience, those accumulated scenes can play out in nightmares that are not incident-specific and are not recalled with any real regularity. Sometimes I awake feeling like I just re-lived a fire service memory in real life. I can’t recall the dream but I know the numbing angst of PTSD well.

I truly believe that emergency service PTSD could well be a subcategory of the original definition.

Recently, I have learned that I am not the only firefighter who is haunted by their traumatic experiences in this way. Other firefighters have told me that they have similar experiences. Many describe their symptoms as accumulative and can not nail it down to just one event.

They also report creating emergencies in their heads as they navigate throughout their day. For example, speeders on the highway tend to piss us off. Many EMS workers hate to see people speed because they are well aware of the consequences of this behaviour. All they can think about is the potential situation the speeder is putting them in. “Jerk is going to kill someone and I’m going to be forced to help.”

EMERGENCY SERVICE PTSD

I truly believe that emergency service PTSD could well be a subcategory of the original definition. We relive our most horrific incidents directly or indirectly ( the speeder scenario). We don’t suffer from “a” specific trauma, we dream and replay many incidents we tried to fix. These incidents impact us sometimes moment by moment as we pretend they don’t exist.

“Not All wounds bleed”

I want to take the time to thank everyone in the emergency service community who risks their mental health with every call to action. From firefighters, paramedics, police to dispatches, nurses and doctors….. Thank you!

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 more people than you know.

If you are struggling please go here: Crisis Services Canada

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

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

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PTSD and its startle response

PTSD AND ITS STARTLED RESPONSE

PTSD AND ITS STARTLED RESPONSE are the worst. – John Arenburg.

I am lucky; every morning when I open my eyes to greet a new day I do so with a blank slate. I could have had the worst mental illness flare up the day before and still feel grateful and renewed the next day. However, PTSD and its startle response can change all that.

The exception being when the PTSD nightmares come for me in my slumber. These nightmares startle me awake and as a result, I start my day with a rapid heartbeat and a fear that plagues me for a good part of the day.

With this blank slate, I do my best to map out a day of normalcy. it doesn’t necessarily have to be full of joy but I always try to head in the right direction; a direction that allows me to conduct the everyday tasks that come with living.

I fully embrace them and don’t give in to the temptation to run home.

Taking care of chores, paying bills and making appointments. High on my priority list is meeting up with friends. My end goal is not to let PTSD imprison me in my own home. It’s of vital importance as I fear of what potential emergency could be lurking around the corner.

Yes, it can be overwhelming but we have no excuse not to try.

Living your life with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I resist fear with all my strength and step outside to greet the world. I do so with a sense of hope that today, I will be able to tolerate the very noisy and very busy world. As I said, I use social connections with friends as the primary reason I leave my home. Those whom I care about and who support me; I use it as my motivator to integrate into society.

I would be lying if I told you that I love being amongst the daily chaos. A chaos that is the everyday hustle and bustle of humanity. On the contrary, I despise it; but I do recognize that despite how I feel about it, I know I have to interact with society. so I, like I always do, defy it and I set off in hopes to win the day.

Learn more about how to recognize the symptoms of PTSD here: Symptoms of PTSD

Out of the many symptoms that are produced by PTSD, none are more impactful than the startle response. PTSD and its startle response are so problematic for me because when I am symptomatic, it increases my hypervigilance. As a result, I am in constant fight, flight or freeze mode. Being in this state makes me jump at every sudden noise, regardless of its volume. 

So, why is it such a challenge? Well, I find the tendency to be easily started so difficult because it is often the primary trigger that causes me to spiral into a mental health crisis.

I become so finely tuned to all the chatter surrounding me.

I become so finely tuned to all the chatter surrounding me, every little kid crying and each and every item be tossed about and dropped; even the clanging of a spoon against a plate can bring me out of my chair.

I feel like I am constantly vibrating, acutely aware of every last bit of commotion in the room. The price I pay for leaving the house is being scared out of my skin over and over again until I can’t take any more.

Sometimes I isolate myself for days because of PTSD AND ITS STARTLED RESPONSE.

It may help you to understand my plight if you stop and think back to a time where someone had scared the life out of you; think of the physiological response you had. Racing heart, a tinge of agitation and rapid breathing.

Go here for help with PTSD #firstrespondersfirst

Now, imagine what that would be like to experience that multiple times in a row. It puts me in a constant state that ranges from constantly irritable to level ten agitated. The best way I can put it is, it’s like getting a tiny shot of electricity over and over, after a while all you want is for it to stop assaulting your body.

Without a doubt, what I hate most is that those closest to me must endure the fallout. PTSD and its startle response effects everyone.

Check out A New Dawn Podcast here.

If that weren’t enough, its side effects lead to numbing recounts of things I’ve witnessed; it’s so numbing that I feel like I’m trying to make my way through molasses. These are the moments when I end up spending the day in bed. Sometimes I isolate myself for days.

PTSD and its startle response


Although these moments make it very tempting to just stay home, I remind myself that I have had great days interacting with the living, it has enriched my life; meeting up with an old friend or helping someone get through their own personal experiences with mental illness. Reminding myself of this, I know that tomorrow will be better.

One day I will beat PTSD and its startle response.

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

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You May Also enjoy: You, Me and PTSD