A side effect

A Side Effect

A few months ago I met with a chap who opened up to me and told me he had suffered from anxiety for a very long time. I sat and listened to his life’s story and the roadblocks that cropped up from being struck with this almost always on, mental health condition. His story is not uncommon although the circumstances that impacted his life’s journey are unique to his experience, there are so many others out there who can relate to the common symptoms it produces. As far as I’m concerned, this commonality is a strength. I feel this way because it means that this chap and others, like you, aren’t alone.

Prevalence of mood and anxiety disorders  (Canada; Stats Canada, 2014).

For one reason or another, I started to think about anxiety and it’s origins. Maybe there was something within the content of his story that ignited my thinking on the matter. Regardless of the source, I can’t help but wonder how many people are suffering from an anxiety disorder as a secondary function of another mental illness, a side effect if you will.
Many of us can identify when we are anxious because we all experience it from time to time. It is a natural reaction to danger and or potential danger. Without anxiety and fear, we would end up being dinner to the nearest predator. In other words, our anxiety is triggered when we feel threatened; this preditor being the reason our anxiety was activated.
So, what are the causal factors that produce constant angst within those with anxiety disorders? Well, Using me as an example, Post-traumatic stress disorder can cause me to be in a near-constant state of hypervigilance. Because of my fire service background, I am always thinking of potential emergencies that may arise and thus thrusting me into helper mode.
As one might well imagine, this causes lots of anxiety when I step out into the world. My fire service years lead me down the road to PTSD and the fear of more potential death and destruction causes the fight, flight or freeze reaction, then BOOM! the anxiety builds. Therefore, it makes sense that my angst is produced by the PTSD
It’s worth exploring the source of your own anxiety, sometimes there is an underlying cause that is producing feelings of fear for you. Once you know what your triggers are, you can work to minimize its effects on your life. For more on what causes anxiety go here




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. I believe in you!

If you are struggling please go here: Crisis Services Canada

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Trauma Specialist, Dr. Jeffery Hosick: jeffreyhosick.com
 

You may also enjoy: Getting Through Tough Times

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The Great Brain Invader MDD

My diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder, MDD as it is sometimes called, is the disorder I write about the least. Why? Well I’m not sure really; perhaps it’s because it is so deeply ingrained in the other two disorders, Post-traumatic stress disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder that it can either make me susceptible at any given moment and thereby making it easier to be triggered or it can swoop in the aftermath, taunting me like a child who likes to poke the bear and get his or her siblings going, loves to see the results and making their siblings cry. A devious sibling can make any moment worse. That’s my depression.

Click the links for more on Post-traumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder.
It can oftentimes be hard to extricate MDD from the other mental disorders because, for me anyway, the source can be ambiguous. For example, when something sets off my PTSD triggers, I disassociate, feel numb to my core and every little bang and sudden noise evokes a sudden startle response. All of these symptoms I have experienced so many times that it drawls the dark curtain over my head leaving me in a state of deep sadness, a sad that boils up from some psychological cavern deep within.

Sometimes, the darkened dust of depression settles in when I am symptomatic, having continual flashbacks or when I am hyper-vigilant. When this occurs, let’s say after I have been continuously startled, the powers of depression force their way into the moment simply because I’m mentally played out from the frequency of being triggered.

PTSD and its symptoms

Major Depressive Disorder, the great brain invader’s symptoms linger long after the Post-traumatic episodes have passed, leaving me feeling like a failure, a burden to others, especially as time passes and relief is slow. My energy depleted, I struggle with motivation and self-confidence. But, what I know is this: In an hour, half-day, or tomorrow the overwhelming ocean that its depression will recede and I will once again be recharged and fit to take on the world.

 So, please don’t use up what little energy you have on all the dark days you’ll see, because they will come again,  instead, choose to put your focus on the now and the fact that you have had awesome days in the past. Those good days, they will also come again.

Want more? Please go to my Books On Mental Illness Page.

You may also enjoy: But a Mere Crawl: Slowly making my way towards mental wellness.

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Thy Mental Illness Enemy

Over the last, let’s say five years, I have been on a quest to find what makes my mental illness tick. Not in its generalities, its typical presentation of symptoms that any given disorder produces, but rather, my mission has been an almost completely internal one.

There is so much known about mental health conditions, all available at our fingertips. However, I offer a word of caution, one should vet their research before believing it and certainly before one commits it to a blog or a book. So much of this work has helped so many to understand the neurological shit show that attempts to rob them of their authenticity. Being a lover of science and research, this is where I first started to look for answers.

Click here interiorhealth.ca for a list of mental health resources.

Although I’ve benefited tremendously from all the learning I have done, it does little to help you get to know you as a person. I happen to believe that this is fundamental if one is going to push through the more difficult moments. I have confronted some serious questions about my weakness and, trust me, it was no easy task. Nonetheless, it was essential. Now that I am better educated on the deeply denied issues that, like it or not, impacted every facet of my life, I can better identify their impact on those around me and help reduce any self-inflicted pain.

With that said, I feel like even getting to know yourself isn’t enough; one also must get to know their mental illness on a more intimate level. After all, it is said that one should keep their friends close but keep their enemies even closer. Lots of work to do under the hood, but its all in an attempt to make things run as smooth as possible, and, it’s defiantly worth the trouble. To me, having a mental illness is like owning a large V8 hummer, or at least that’s how I can best describe it for myself.

So, what the heck do I mean when I compare myself to a V8 hummer? Well, we both expend energy. Like all things, some go through their fuel faster (burn up their energy source) than others. I, like a V8 engine, can’t go as far on a single tank then let’s say, a four-cylinder car.

Four-cylinder vehicles are the majority of vehicles on the road today, very fuel-efficient; because of this, they can go further on a single tank of gas. I think of those who are mentally well like they are a 4clinder, much more common and can go the distance and easily take on the world around them. Us Hummers – the mentally ill, cannot, or at least I am not able to. A day in the world of busy burns up my fuel and sends me walking to retreat.

From my perspective, the world we are living in wasn’t designed for those with a mental disorder. It’s sooo loud, so busy and way too crowded. PTSD hates all these things and makes the world a battlefield. Being overstimulated is misery. Having to mentally muscle my way through a barrage of busy, multi-level noise and chaos has been a hellish experience. But the world dictates that we are broken if we can not go the distance, so like you, I sloughed forward, full steam ahead.

So, when I merge what I have learned about who I am as a person and how my mental health conditions impact my every day, it has freed me in a sense as I now know that my mental energy is expended in half the time as a healthy person would experience. You know what? I’m ok with that.


Tell me, what’s under your mental health hood? The equivalent of a four-cylinder engine or are you a V8 Hummer? If you’re uncertain, maybe its time you explore who you are and what your mind and body can tolerate. Get to know thy mental illness enemy too. It may very well teach you when you’re getting close to your mental E. Stop, rest and refuel.







See here on Ways to recharge.

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