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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Sunset

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

So you had a stay in bed kind of day yesterday. You felt overwhelmed, inflicted by a heavy feeling that is often described as dread. And like that of someone drowning, you went weak, let go and stopped fighting. Even though you desperately wanted to fight on, you were just too exhausted to do so.

If your experience is in any way like my own, you can’t help but worry that days like that are going to take you out and down the road of no return. But is this true? You might have thought; “Will this be the day I slide into oblivion, never to know happy again?’ I am confronted with this fear whenever I fail to muster the strength to do, well anything.

Thankfully, despite my fears, I can say with 100% certainty that I have never once remained trapped in the darkest recesses of my mind; its this time and tested truth that I take great comfort in. All it takes is a constant reminder to “ride it out.”

How to get through those mentally tough days

Waking up this morning, you felt wonderful and refreshed and without an ounce of mental pain to contend with. You think to yourself, “Today is your day.” Already, you’re off to a wonderful start. With that said, it can be useful to keep in mind that you may not be 100% well for the entire day. And that’s ok; you can however, choose where you put your energy so that you can have the greatest amount of success.

So, what helps with that success?Firstly, it’s helpful for me to understand that there is a fundamental difference between normal stressors and disordered ones. Normal anxiety responses are driven by things like, speaking in front of crowds or anticipating a moment when it’s almost your turn to speak at a meeting. All normal responses to normal, everyday events.

But… When one experiences stressors like ones that are driven from trauma, it’s more likely produced by an abnormal event(s). In this instance, it’s our brains trying to make sense of what disaster the eyes have seen. Incidents like a death, a car wreak or an assault.

I like to think of this form of anxiety as residual effects in a sense. For example, PTSD doesn’t let go of the most horrific experiences of our lives. Therefore, we relive them; sometimes years after the tragic events have passed. This is, in my view, disorder driven anxiety.

I have PTSD, now what?

For me, anxiety, feels the same. Whether it’s “normally produced” or spawn by my mental health conditions. Regardless, it can be important to determine the source. While I know this isn’t always possible, it can help in those scenarios where you know it’s origins.

How? Well, therapy can be a great tool to help one determine what they are facing. To be more specific, a type of therapy called cognitive behavioural therapy can help bring angst to the fore of the mind so you can “think” your way through what factors are causing it to spike.

Today is your day
Photo by Wendy Wei on Pexels.com

If we are able to conquer the feelings produced by anxiety and other mental illnesses, then we increase our odds of getting to its epicentre. In other words, if you’re about to go on stage for a spelling Bee and your anxiety is high, this is considered normal. In such a case, the more you go on stage, the better odds of helping to minimize your fear in future. Remember, stage fright can be disorder driven but for many, it’s simply a bad case of the jitters. Regardless, it is common to be anxious in the scenario.

Once you come to the conclusion, that this is indeed a normal response, you can then ask yourself. ‘What can I do to help me alleviate my angst?” Deep breathing is a great tool to deploy when on the hot seat. Of course, throwing yourself out there is also key to overcoming it all.

Learning breathing exercises.

Post-traumatic stress on the other hand, is born out of abnormal events. Like those mentioned above. Thus, they require other therapeutic tools like mindfulness and EMDR. In the case of ptsd, knowing your triggers may not be helpful. We can however, acknowledge them and say, “I know you are there, but you don’t have to rule my life.” The great thing about this approach is that you now have a framework to refine your skills. For example, strong mindfulness skills can get you through the noise and fear of a crowded environment; thereby improving your quality of life.

So, let today be your day. Make it so by acknowledging what is causing your anxiety. Furthermore, work on the skills you are learning in therapy to help you cope. It will liberate you so that you can have more good days than bad.

“Any freedom worth a damn is won an inch at a time, then a foot, then a mile and so on.”

Jonathan Arenburg.

20 authors from the military and emergency services tell their story a post-traumatic stress disorder.

Jonathan Arenburg, signing a copy of Lemonade Stand Vol. III

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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