Discover New Passions

The heavy dread of mental illness confines me into the perpetual act of absolute avoidance and in doing so, denies me the quality of life that  I so long for. I have been suffering from anxiety, depression and PTSD for so long now that a normal shot at happy seems as far fetched as winning the lottery.

A very sad way of seeing it, but the fact is it’s hard not to feel this way. I feel like I’m continuously on an elevator going from the basement floor to the first floor, then back to the basement floor again. This elevator analogy is a good representation of how my mental wellness journey is going. I seemingly start to make my way towards healing only to have the doors slam shut and then I am forced to the dark and isolating basement once more.

I can’t speak for anyone else suffering from a mental disorder but I can tell you that for me, this constant glimmer of hope, this peek at an opportunity of realizing a full and rich life once more, then having the fear, heavy dread and anxiety forced me to the bottom floor, thus robbing me of a sense of normalcy, only amplifies all of the symptoms I suffer from. I do have a lot of professional supports in place however, the systems in which govern them can sometimes slow these supports to a crawl. This is nothing sort of mental torture at times, the byproduct of this torture is emotional degradation, a direct hit on my affect. The biggest tragedy of it all is the exacerbation of all the mental illnesses themselves. So for example, my depression robs me of the joy of those things I used to love and looked forward to. Everything has systematically had the shine stripped off of it and worsened by this wait.

Then what can I do to find the passion for life again? Where can I go to find the self that used to love fitness and nutrition? two of the things I had a passion for. I used to feel great sadness for having lost the drive for these things, and I still do to some degree but I feel like I can’t stand idle waiting for the love for them to return, what if they never do? I have decided that instead of mourning these losses, it was better for me to take action. I decided that I have a need to discover new passions. I have been on a mission to do just that ever since.

I discovered that finding new passions requires effort, nonetheless, I embarked on the unknown. Interestingly enough, the idea of looking for a new “thing” to fall in love with gave me the shot in the arm I needed. I have always had this need to create, a need that I constantly denied. It was always floating around in the back of my head, longing to break free but my fears always held my true desire captive.

My passion: Writing about mental illness.

What is this passion you ask? well, you’re reading it. I have always wanted to write, so I went for it. Being off work I had nothing to lose and nothing constructive to do and so, The Road To Mental Wellness was born. It has ignited a small flame in my heart, one just large enough to keep me going. I am hopeful that it will be the catalyst that will propel me down the road to wellness.

maybe you have a need to find new passions too?

You, Me, And PTSD, its hard on love

So, you recognized and have finally acknowledged that there’s something going on inside, something that requires you to look deep within yourself.
One of the principal drivers for your decision to seek out answers is the constant disruption your unacknowledged feelings and behaviours are causing in your life. Your reactivity and frequent withdrawal from your every day is a source of continuous pain for not only you but also your partner, your rock that bears the brunt of your outbursts and your fluctuating moods.
One day, you decide that enough is enough. Someday your love is going to walk. This prospect makes your desire to stop hurting the one you love far greater than your fear to confront and deal with your aliments.
Sound familiar? This not so pleasant scenario I know all too well and sadly so does my partner. I would give anything not to have been afflicted with the unbearable pain of PTSD but, I am faced with it almost daily. My partner deserves more from me, the better version I can be. She is one of my main motivators for embarking on my journey to wellness and her support and love mean so much to me. Her kind loving nature has been available to me each and every time I fall.

 Connecting with a loved one with PTSD

She’s worth the pain and strife that this journey produces and it’s because of her love that I want to be present for her,  alleviate her own burdens and reciprocate that love and kindness that makes me stronger. My dream is to one day enjoy our lives together and dammit I am going to achieve just that! I can never sufficiently articulate my gratitude for all that she has done. Thanks, beautiful! It’s difficult not to beat myself up when I know that my turmoil is spilling over into the one who props me up the most.

Help for spouses, friends and other supporters of someone who has PTSD

The nightmares often keep me awake at night and the exhaustion only magnifies the symptoms which impact our relationship. She’s a beautiful lady, a very loving soul. So as tough as it may be to confront my PTSD demon, it’s made so much easier knowing that our love is worth saving. When I  walk down the road of life I want to see her next to me, always. This is enough for me to keep fighting the good fight and utilize all the help and resources I can get my hands on, I want to ensure that my wellness journey and our lives together experience the longevity they both deserve.

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Signs of strength

Signs Of Strength When mentally Ill.

When I started my wellness journey, it was met with fear and uncertainty. I was unsure for my future. Nonetheless, I took a deep breath and prepared myself for battle. Leading up to this wellness journey
I was barely clinging to the everyday routine of my life. Like a broken branch being violently tossed about in a windstorm, so too was everything I ever knew. I was caught in the turbulence of a force that I had not yet experienced. I’ve had my moments of being pretty ill in the past, but this time it just felt different. I learned that you have to look for signs of strength when mentally ill.
A new demon had rolled into town threatening to uproot the mental illness that had already staked its claim on my headspace. This new sickness moving to town wasn’t completely foreign to me, I had wrestled with him in the past. When this disorder caught up with me this time however, I grossly underestimated its strength, as a result, it slowly overpowered and incapacitated me. This overwhelming force is the mental disorder known as (PTSD) post-traumatic stress disorder.
Before this adversary, I was at odds with my resident mental illness, (GAD) generalized anxiety disorder. Powerful in its own right, it was a trickster I knew far too well to be defeated by it on its own. I was battling the angst it produced and winning the vast majority of the days’ battles against it.

it’s up to you to find the help you need and discover what those tolerances are.

It came at a cost however, my fight or flight response was always engaged and causing a significant amount of mental fatigue, but I knew this and compensated for it; going to bed earlier was just one of the ways I coped. I was still king of the mental health castle.
That all changed when the PTSD and the GAD started a turf war vying for absolute supremacy over my mental health. I could slowly feel the happy being withered away, caught in their crossfire.
Despite my health being held at the mercy of the two, I still went to work, still forced a smile on my face and tried to be the positive helpful John I had always been. I diligently fulfilled my personal obligations and went through great lengths to ensure my kids were none the wiser. Something had to give though, socially my life took on serious damage as I increasingly sought refuge behind the safety of my own four walls and as the battle within intensified, the need to withdraw became more and more frequent.

I gave up, retreated. Exhausted, I stayed at home, I was defeated, too weak to fight on; or was I?

At some point the two disorders decided to call a truce, good news right? Wrong! They figured they could have ultimate control over not only my mind, but they also realized that they would be stronger together, and they formed an alliance and have now attempted to take my soul and body as well. I was up against two very, very clever adversaries, and up to this very day they have wreaked havoc with my health, not only mentally but also physically.

Now allies at war with me, I felt powerless to combat the two, I felt weak, lonely, and defenceless. They were the perfect storm, intense and always in my head. The PTSD produced so much fear that I made retreating from public my second occupation. I constantly lived in fear of the possibility of seeing death or having to render aid to someone in an emergency. I was reactive to every little noise and the outside world had become way too loud and intolerable.

may I suggest that you are not weak and definitely not alone.

The GAD amplified the fears I had and still have around death, and being the ever-constant storyteller, it will construct scenarios of people dying in front of me in any number of ways.

See, the perfect partners. Their combined powers were too overwhelming and I eventually conceded to their power and became unable to face my job, the world around me, or enjoy the company of my loved ones. I felt like the weakest most useless person on earth, and I felt I had little choice but to surrender to my woes. With a feeling of shame and experiencing a numbing and persistent sadness, I gave up, retreated. Exhausted, I stayed at home, I was defeated, too weak to fight on; or was I?

Taking leave from work and faced with a lot of time on my hands I found that being absent from the constant stimulus of my occupation and the outside world, allowed me to spend a lot of time reflecting on the events in my life and all the effort I had put into trying to live a “normal” existence. Getting up every day, dragging myself through the everyday trials of life, work, kids, bills, dealing with conflict etc.
While all at the same time fighting not one but two mental illnesses and their tendencies to take the wheel and drive through whatever they wanted, like two teens without a license, taking me along for their destructive ride. Yet despite all this, I was raising my kids and doing a pretty good job. Not being able to work and contribute, although very tough, it made me realize that I had a tremendous support system.
“We the mentally ill don’t necessarily have disabilities, we have smaller tolerances, we simply need to learn how to work within them.”
(John Arenburg).
replaying my story in my mind, I have rightfully concluded that I wasn’t weak at all, that taking the time off was not a shameful act. I was merely aware enough to understand that my illness made me to sick to work, and perhaps, more importantly, it wasn’t because I was weak that I conceded to the PTSD and GAD, it was just out of pure exhaustion, battle fatigue if you will, physically and mentally spent. I needed and still, need time to get better.

What to hear real-life mental wellness journeys? Go to A New Dawn

I believe that if one exceeds their tolerances in life, as I had for many, many years one naturally, but incorrectly feels weak; simply because they are living up to someone else’s standards.
I think we would thrive if we acknowledge that we are all costumes made and have our own threshold, once exceeded we simply tire to the point that our body and mind say “enough”! Also, when we go against our own grain, neglect our true passions we then start to become ill and end up slugging our way through it because of our socially-expected obligations.

If this story sounds similar to your own, then may I suggest that you are not weak and definitely not alone. You’re also far from useless, you are a pillar of strength, an example of one who is strong; just drained and your tank is on E. Yet, despite this, you keep going.

I have had the honour of hearing many people’s life stories and I have yet to find one example of weakness, not one.  It’s OK to take time to re-learn your tolerances and as with any other illness, mental disorders come with their own challenges that need accommodation on your part, it’s up to you to find the help you need and discover what those tolerances are. these are all Signs Of Strength When mentally Ill.

To learn more about your limits click here: Mental illness and knowing your limits

Email:roadtometnalwellness@gmail.com

Facebook:  facebook.com/TRTMW