I received a note last evening. Somebody who regularly reads what I write and publish here. The only qualifier I will add to it, is that it came from a first responder in Canada and they decided to reach out after reading The PTSD Brain in Action; The Party That Wasn’t. It seemed rather fitting, considering much of the advocacy work I do about mental health concerns first responders and associated careers.
Reading your blog always freaks me out when you talk about anxiety. I battle some of those same things too, but I have never talked to anyone about it. Good of you to be so brave.
Wow, just wow.
My mind was totally blown in that moment.
What was amazing was the conversation that followed that initial message. I have my usual questions about it when something like this is revealed:
- If you are comfortable sharing it, what was your diagnosis? (One of the forms of PTSD, Anxiety, Depression, etc.)
- Do you have support in your current work environment?
- If yes, how is it proceeding? If no, let me get you a list of resources for your area.
- Have you checked out Wings of Change Peer Support? Badge of Life Canada? (Perfect places for me to refer anyone working in primary response careers)
You get the idea.
The conversation covered many areas and showed what, for me, was missing in their support and treatment system/network. I ask a lot of questions normally, because that’s when people distinguish things for themselves as they look for an answer.
BUT… I am far from being any kind of expert in the field. I have decades of lived experience, and a lot of years of research. I share what goes on inside my mind at certain times, during an experience, in the hope that somebody will read it, recognize it, and know that they are not the only one, that they should reach out and have a conversation. It’s the first step.
It’s the same goal I have every time I go out to deliver a talk, teach a seminar or class (half-day, full-day), or get up in front of up to 250 students and deliver a 3 hour lecture. I want to reach that one. That one who thinks they are the only person dealing with what they are dealing with. That one who believes they are flawed because of the way their mind works or how they react to a situation.
Every person beyond the one is a bonus.
And every now and then, the stars will align, and the whole class just “gets it”, and they all take something away that says to them, hey, I’m not the only one.
Just let me reach that one, so they know they are not alone, and I have had a successful day, talk, class, seminar, lecture, one on one conversation.
It happened after a recent lecture, and I have touched on it in a previous post, and my heart shattered into microscopic pieces when that one revealed their truth. But, we have an amazing network of people ready to step up and be there for that one who heard me that day.
And for those who think my suit of armour is pretty sturdy… it’s not, trust me. It will be, at best, wobbly for another week or so, until I have bounced back from that recent episode. In the meantime, I find that it’s far easier to be triggered again, therefore I am very careful about managing my space and my environment.
And the work continues on these two concepts:
I can still easily be hooked by other’s negativity or drama. It happened a year ago when trying to manage a situation, deliver a lecture, meet my sister who was coming to observe, and so on. Phone rang before the lecture was going to begin, and without thinking, I answered it. Hooked? Just like a game fish. How was the lecture? I still beat myself up about it, because it totally SUCKED!! I was so thoroughly embarrassed after when we went for a coffee, as I literally went down the mental list of what I forgot, what I left out, what point I didn’t finish, where I lost words and stopped speaking in the middle of a sentence. It was, I would say, an epic clusterfuck. The initial situation did get resolved a few days later… but, to use that graphic, I was most definitely not, “unfuckwithable” in that moment.
And the second concept, “unfuck yourself.” There’s a lot more work to be done on that yet. The shine is still not close to visible, and it won’t be for some time. I explained it to a treasured friend this morning, that when you hear it on repeat for years, it’s hard not to believe it and adopt it as your truth. But, you’ll know when I get there, promise.
So, for that person who reached out last night, thank you. You validated the mental scab-ripping stuff that occurs in my writing at times. It is not easy to put it all out there (because you know somebody will throw it back in your face at the most inopportune moment; it’s happened before *shrug*), but when you reach that one person who needed to know they are not alone, it makes every word written or spoken, so worth it.
And hey, don’t forget, as Nat and all of our friends would remind you:
We’ve got your back.
We are truly, in this together, kittens.