Staying Sane in a Mad, Mad World

Any little bit of positivity we can hear or read about amidst the Coronavirus outbreak is a good thing in my view. I appreciate every positive story shared as a wonderful counter to the regular scary news stories we are being inundated with (probably rightly so). Positivity gives us a small dose of sanity in a world that has seemingly gone mad.

As someone who grew up with a Chicken Little mentality and now lives with PTSD, while no expert on pandemics, I do have a lot of experience dealing with the power of fear of the unknown and the nervousness and panic that quickly sets in. All of which is currently happening in much of the global environment that to be fair, is understandable in many ways.

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Understanding the brain: why we can’t just wish our desires into reality

Conscious evolvement – where we are choosing to grow in some way through awareness and choice, comes in large part from our desire to no longer live in fear. Every negative thought we have arises from a past hurt or traumatic event that is still threatening our safety in some way. Because our brain’s only job is to keep us surviving, and we don’t have the consciousness (yet) to change the functioning of its threat systems that warn us of danger (real or perceived), attempting to manifest what we want based only on changing our thinking won’t lead us to make lasting changes. At least, not where limiting thought patterns continue to challenge us.

There is a physiological component to manifesting that can help to explain, at least in part, why we get so frustrated when we believe that our efforts to create the changes we want have failed. They haven’t, really. It’s just that we are up against more than only the mind.

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Loss, Grief & Faith

Faith is the belief or confidence we have in something for which there is no proof. For many people, faith is religious-based; notwithstanding the natural reaction of many bereaved to question, if not blame the death of a loved one on their God. With suicide, child loss or other traumatic death, it’s a bit tricky. No matter the degree of one’s faith, how can any person reconcile any God allowing a child to end their life? Or someone to die at the hands of another? Or experience death in so many painful and inexplicable ways? Given that my beautiful, intelligent, young adult daughter died by suicide, it was a question I grappled with for years.

Whether spiritual, religious or something else, when the foundation of our belief system has been knocked down (our faith), it leaves us feeling lost; maybe even without purpose. Picking up the fragments or starting from scratch to rebuild it is not easy.

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Are You Stuck in the Past and Want More for Your Life?

Any life event that has uprooted you in some way may be keeping you stuck in pain. This could be from a childhood trauma or as an adult, the loss of a loved one, relationship, job, money, health, lifestyle or friends. Pain is pain, no matter where it comes from. It can feel just as devastating for everyone, dependent on what we are here to experience.

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Grief: Saying Good-bye to our Fur Babies

I just said good-bye to my last ever fur baby. While the positive side of this otherwise sad life event marks a forever change in my life, given that I do not intend to have any more animals that tie me to added responsibility, in addition to saying goodbye to a beloved companion, it has also been a somewhat sad release of a part of my life I’ve known for over four decades. I’ve always had an animal by my side.

With respect to losing this last little guy and as my 27-year-old son so poignantly put it: “there goes the last of my childhood” (we got this kitty when he was 11 years old), I was a little taken aback when I realized just how many years had gone by with this beautiful cat dutifully by our side. I had never really thought about his aging too much. He was always just there.

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The Dark Web: Why are we too afraid to talk to our kids about suicide?

A few days ago, I came across this article that shockingly (for me, anyway) told the story of a young Norwegian woman who tracks Instagram’s dark web for anyone at risk of attempting suicide. This young watcher (she is only twenty-two) scrolls through her Instagram feed looking for signs of imminent suicide attempts on the more than 450 accounts she’s been given permission to follow. She intervenes when she believes it necessary to do so based on the type of content posted. Despite not being formally trained in mental healthcare, she alerts the police and ambulance services requesting them (sometimes pleading with them) to further investigate those individuals she identifies as critically at risk of suicide. Some of these professionals don’t always take her claims seriously. Sometimes lives are lost.

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Recognizing PTSD – Could Power Pave the Way?

Here’s an interesting news story. After “mysteriously vanishing from the spotlight” two years ago, RCMP Staff Sgt. Jennifer Pound, a twenty-two-year veteran of the RCMP and for six years, the “public face” of the integrated homicide investigation team (IHIT) in Metro Vancouver, is emerging as the RCMP’s new face of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Here’s my take on the story. Is she really? Or, is Pound the chosen one to finally get the media’s attention (and stay there) to highlight just how broken the system is when it comes to the RCMP providing support and resources to its mentally injured members? Here’s part of her story.

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Surviving Suicide – Finding Life Again

I’ve just returned from a month-long mini round-the-world trip that took me and my husband to Asia, Indonesia and Europe. Now, while most people who love to travel would probably have been excited planning, counting down the days to departure and actually travelling, I found myself, as always, in a state of neutrality more than I did excitement. More than neutrality, it is the state that anyone who lives with PTSD struggles with, not having the ability to feel excited about much of anything (which as an aside, is different from being able to feel gratitude). As such, I honestly could not rouse myself to feel anything more than hopeful that all would go well on each leg of the trip (which it did) and as much excitement as I could feel reuniting with our son in various locations for some quality time together. If anyone can drum up excitement in me, it’s my son!

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Surviving versus Living – What’s the difference?

It is interesting that we are commonly known to survive loss. We are thought of in our grief as surviving loved ones. We are called suicide survivors after losing a loved one to suicide. But what it means to truly survive loss is not well understood or even talked about at all. It’s just a word that’s been assigned to the bereaved.

The literal meaning of the word “survive” is to remain alive after the death of someone or the cessation of something under adverse or unusual circumstances. And remaining alive versus living are two very different things. I’m sure everyone would agree that losing a child is the least favourable circumstance to be in and is unusual and adverse in every way imaginable. For most if not all bereaved parents, surviving their child’s death is about the only thing they can do. But it’s also true that many grievers in general simply remain alive without much or any feeling at all after losing a love of their life. Without hope and loss of direction, some people may never feel anything again.

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PTSD: How it Impacts Relationships and What You Need to Manage Them

As a bereaved mom of a daughter who died by suicide in 2005, I have long been a proponent of change in how we view difficult loss and grief in our culture and the importance of understanding trauma and PTSD associated with certain types of loss. Not only for grievers, but everybody supporting them through their grief process.

It’s not only child loss that can traumatize people, but keeping it to bereaved parents for a moment, I am certain there isn’t one mom or dad out there who hasn’t been traumatized by the loss of their child, no matter the cause of death. They may even have PTSD and not know it. Little to no information is available on the topic. Despite the lack of information on the risk of PTSD for bereaved parents, it is encouraging to see that a quick internet search pops up a number of articles and studies done on PTSD in parents coping with a critically ill child, which is progress. (As an aside, there is even research for traffic accident victims who have PTSD). I remain astounded at the apparent lack of information and interest to take up this cause for the grieving.

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