If I'm being honest

If I am honest

If I am honest, my old identity was killing me.

Today, I find it imperative that I am honest with all of you, myself included. My confession? Most times, I feel nothing. In fact, I feel so little at times that if it could be measured by a heart monitor, you’d see a flat line. Of course, my affect is not completely dead. I know this because every once in a while, there will be the occasional “beep” representing moments where I feel a moment of happy.

However, there is no device that can accurately display my truth; a truth that mental illness, specifically depression does hold me hostage more often than I’d like. Despite this, I if I am honest with you once more, depression’s mindset is designed to force me into isolation. While this isolation seems like it is of my own accord, it is, truthfully, not. I am being honest because I know in my heart, I would rather live in the sunshine than hide in the darkness; I mean, who wouldn’t. Therefore, I want to confront this demon.

This urge to hide from the world is, without question, PTSD. Oh, how I absolutely loath to see another life lost needlessly. Therefore, it seems safest to avoid all the potentials that lay beyond my front door. It’s pretty heavy stuff.

But it’s more than that. Many people who suffer from trauma, also have major depressive disorder. I am, unfortunately, one of these people. Let me tell ya; the two together make for the perfect mental storm. Their potential to do damage is enormous.

What it’s like having major depressive disorder.

If I am honest with myself, I have to admit, I hate this, I really, really do. However, like many things that have been laid at my feet, I must do what I have to. This includes, whether I like it or not, allowing these two disorders to run their course at times. Especially when super symptomatic.

If I were honest
Photo by Valentin Antonucci on Pexels.com

If all this is new to you, if you have been recently diagnosed, hang in there. Let me tell ya. Honestly, it’s best to accept what lays before you too. Think of it, now that you know, you can research and rebuild a life that accommodates your illnesses.

I know my friend, it feels like you are being robbed of your identity. If you’ve followed a similar path as myself, a massive amount of who you are, was defined by helping others. This personality type is hard to untangle oneself from, but does one really have to? I argue that the answer is no.

Let me give it to you straight

Thankfully, the skills of a helper are fixable and very transferable. Honestly, there are endless ways to make a difference. When I could no longer work because of my mental health conditions, I ultimately decided to tackle it head on and start anew.

Once again, if I am being honest, I had to go through the pain of loosing who I was. I was a firefighter, a health care worker, and that’s all I knew; all I wanted to be. but…. I can’t be those things anymore, ever again…

Finally, after so many years, I have come to terms with my partial loss of identity. If I’m honest about it, I am glad those days are behind me. Why you ask? Well, Simply because what I loved so dearly and identified with so strongly, destroyed me. That by definition would be considered toxic in any other type of scenario, am I right?

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

If it’s true that it was toxic for me, then why would I want to go back? Even though I have no clear direction at the moment, I have this: Firstly, I have the opportunity to heal from the life that brought me so much mental pain and secondly; My life is a blank slate and thus, full of opportunity. This is both scary and exciting and as I heal, I will fulfill my passion to help.

With all that said; like the book I co-authored; Lemonade Stand Vol. III, says; “When you’re handed lemons, you make lemonade.” So, that’s exactly what I have set out to do. During these most turbulent times in my life, I am finding the new me. As a helper at my core, I have dedicated my time to helping others by telling my story.

Rebuilding your life when mentally ill.

This blog, The Road To Mental Wellness is now part of the new me; My new identity if you will. From the feedback I have received since starting this venture, I can say that I am achieving the goals I have set out to accomplish. I want to continue to help others whist at the same time, find some therapeutic benefit too. Writing and advocating has been an amazing way to accomplish this.

At the end of the day, we get to choose where we put our energy, even if it’s not as robust and in a way we once knew. So then, how are you going to reclaim your own life? The possibilities really are yours for the exploring.

Check out one of my favourite mental health non-profits, fighting the battle against stigma; Sick Not Weak

If I were honest

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!

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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More Important Than Ever

Finding my purpose has become more important than ever.

Thanksgiving of 2017 was a life-changing moment for me and not in a good way; at least not entirely. What started out as a warm and joyous occasion with family, ended with a young man’s last moments on earth. Upon hearing that there was an emergency on the front step of my aunt’s apartment building, I leaped into action.

Sadly though, I would be met with a wall of numbness and disassociation, rendering me unable to assist the young man. As a result, on this cool thanksgiving evening, the firefighter and long term care working in me died; leaving a shell of a man, standing beside himself, very, very, lost.

Symptoms Of PTSD

As much as I tried to shake it off and shut it down, like the big tough firefighter I thought I was, I could not. My nightly dance with the nightmares was too strong of a force to contend with; the flashback would damn near send me of the road and made it increasingly more difficult to bear. What’s more, my workplace was fraught with violence, and near constant noise. With this threat of being assaulted a constant and coupled with this noise, the new, not so cable self, was defenceless against its over stimulation. Essentially, I lived in zombie land, shut off so as to protect the shards of me that remained.

adventure beach lost man
Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com – More important than ever.

Now, in twenty-twenty, I have only made baby steps down the road to mental wellness; with that said, I’d be lying if I said that there wasn’t a part of me that’s not saddened and frustrated. After all, I should be cured by now right? Wrong!

When PTSD Catches Up

With PTSD producing all this internal chaos; or, as I like to call it, the mental health storm of the century, I am left in a quandary. A battle that leaves me struggling to define who I am. Since I had no say in the “new me” I have no idea which direction to take. However, with all this uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to keep fighting like hell to find a me that can be defined; one that can contribute to society and an identity that finds purpose.

The One Thing I do have in 2020

Getting back to this holiday weekend and it’s overwhelming, triggering challenges, it has become more important than ever to take stock of all the great things I have in my life. Amazingly, it’s the practice of gratitude that propels more forward and because I am so fortunate, I have to believe that great things will happen along this long but healing journey. I have to have hope and perhaps most importantly, I have to keep moving forward.

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
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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we need to take care of one another.

we need to take care of one another.

With back to back tragedies like covid and the mass shooting In Canada; we will feel the psychological fallout from them. That’s why now, more than ever, we need to take care of one another.

Yesterday, was a heartbreaking day for my home province of Nova Scotia, Canada; a horrific crime occurred here that has left at least seventeen people dead; including one RCMP officer. This senseless act was perpetrated by a lone gunman who was later killed by the police. Today, the entire province morns their loss and shares the pain of their loved ones. We hold you in our thoughts. Now, more than ever, we need to take care of one another.

In tragic times like these, the psychological fallout can be and surely will be enormous; impacting people much harder then one would anticipate. If you find yourself overcome with a sense of sadness, its ok, in fact, it’s normal.

Need help dealing with the psychological fallout from yesterday’s tragedy? Go to Crisis Services Canada for help.

While this reaction is unavoidable for many, I think it’s important to emphasize the word normal. A good way to think about it is to think about what happens when you flick on a light switch; the now opened circuit sends the flow of electricity to the bulb. This action and reaction is the natural consequence of “flicking the switch.”

Similarly, when we hear news of such an unprecedented and unthinkable act such as this, our central nervous system reacts in the way in which it was designed. In other words, the sadness, the numb feeling and the level of overall impact it delivers are all appropriate.

It’s ok to feel the way you are feeling. Information on critical incident stress here

In crisis? Please reach out to the Nova Scotia Crisis team At 1-888-429-8167 or call 911 Or If you need help with mental health or addictions; call 1-855-922-1122

we need to take care of one another.

With that said, please don’t allow your sense of guilt to take priority to the degree where you fail to get the help you need. While it’s true that many will not require any intervention, many people will. Such help can be found at Nova Scotia Mental Health and Addictions.

Read More: The Mental Health Work Injury

Personally, I recommend that if how you are still experiencing intense feelings for more than a week, it’s worth getting in touch with a mental health professional to help determine the severity incident’s psychological impact. Of course, if you are having thoughts of suicide, call 911 0r your local mental health crisis line immediately.

An unprecedented time, a uncomprehensable incident.

To make matters worse, we have had our lives severely impacted by this most unprecedented time; I’m speaking of course, of the COVID-19 outbreak. This pandemic has already doled out a level of fear that hasn’t been experienced since the second world war. As a result, the mental pain pump was already primed and causing its own brand of trauma.

As a result, the uncertainty that it has produced has brought fear and worry for those we love to the forefront. Not only has it left us in a perpetual state of concern for those we hold dearest; it has also robbed us of our sense of control over our own lives and at the same time deprives us of that personal connection we are designed to experience.

How to regain control durning COVID-19

So, what COVID-19 has done has essentially knocked the psychological wind out of us and in the process, leaving us more vulnerable to further mental health injury.

How then, do we make sense of it all? Firstly, we may never come to understand why such rare and heartbreaking events happen; its almost impossible to make sense out of the senseless. However, I do think now, more than ever, we need to take care of one another by offering support and understanding. These are the most trying and challenging times in anyone’s memory. So please be kind. Be kind, not only yourself but be easy on one other.

In times of great uncertainty and monumental pain, we need to take care of one another.

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: The Road To Mental Wellness

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