Mental Health in 2016

Well, here we are just over a month into 2016.  Time sure has been flying…..

I know that people always want to be positive that …. “This year is going to be better”…… but I have to say – right now, so far this year sucks.  Between incidents, accidents, and bad news – I have had my fill already.  The collection of items that just keep making me sigh loudly gets bigger and bigger.  Haven’t finished dealing with the last one when the next punch comes.

I started February with a Cystoscopy – less than 3 months after my last one.  It plays a bad mental game with you – did it get scheduled so soon because the Doc is concerned about something? Or is it just that he only got his 2 February dates that he gets the hospital procedure suite early in the month? Is he looking for a specific reaction to the last procedure? Many things run through a person’s mind – the end result is that I will likely never know the real reason.  Not sure I want to know.  Is ignorance bliss in this case? If he has some concerns that things might not be going according to Hoyle.

All this comes around at the 2 year point since the flight surgeon started talking to me about a weird reading in my tests that I took for my annual aircrew medical.  2 years of dealing with this…. I would love for that to stop sometime soon, or at least turn the light on at the end of the tunnel so that I know I can see the destination from here.

The end result of the scope is the result that I didn’t want.  I am now in line for surgery again, more about that another day.

Last week was the #BellLetsTalk social media-a-thon.  Mental health has been something that is talked about, but mostly in hushed tones.  The military actually doesn’t do badly about making mental health assistance available – and it has come a long way over the years.  My first run-in with the Military “Critical Incident Stress Team” was early in my career when one of my drinking buddies killed himself in the barracks.  Then again in 1994, after the crash that killed Bob and Wally.  The turning point was Swiss Air 111, when I really saw the Leadership realize that a Critical Incident Stress team made up of peers wasn’t that effective… my experience back then was having another aviator following me across the parking lot telling me – “I have to help you, it is my secondary duty”.

In society today, it is easier to have mental health issues and I don’t mean from a concept of easier to deal with, I mean that there is “less stigma” because more is known about them – that is a very big distinction in my mind.  Campaigns like #BellLetsTalk, are meant to break down the barriers of shame that has been around mental health issues… that can only be a good thing.

I start by looking at mental health and my own accepted definition – to me, mental health is about “the results of a person’s mental capacity to cope with the emotional strain of events”, add a dash of “the subtle art of not giving a fuck”(I like this article), stir well, and pour over ice.  Individual recipes may vary.

It is kinda funny that things like this, and the cumulative effect that this constant toll has on a person’s mind is hard to measure.  Some of you may remember my (pre-blog writing days) rants on FB, when things just got near capacity – forgetting my wallet in High Level, tax audit just after receiving the 3 weeks notice to move out of the NWT, nobody caring about the summer 2014 when I pointed out the upcoming confluence of stress to military leadership to no avail (only ones that got screwed over – myself and Sherry) and not to forget the 4 days camped on the closed highway trying to reschedule lawyers appointments to still have a place to live when we got here… stress levels into the 14 on a scale of 10…..oh, did I mention the move from hell – largest damage claim ever…they denied more on this one claim than all other move claims combined…

I know that most of you are now thinking…. “Rob – where are you going with this?”….. truth be told – I don’t know. Trying to organize my own thoughts that bounce around in my brain is challenge enough.  There isn’t a path to follow, flow chart to use, or simple formula to plug myself into. Every individual challenge is just that – individual and unique.  It must be dealt with as its own challenge, not the sum of all challenges that can be dealt with in one big solution.  I personally think that might be the biggest challenge.  I think that is my semi-colon as I don’t know what else will be written; but let us take a pause here before we write the rest of the story.

Now you might REALLY be wondering where I am going with this – but if you are familiar with some mental health concepts and stories, you have probably heard about the semi-colon project… if not, here is a blog article about it written by a friend.  The biggest thing about mental health, is that the story isn’t finished.

Moving towards the 2016 motorcycle riding season, I have an opportunity to help plan a charity event that brings awareness to teen Mental Health support, I think that things like this help add a semi-colon to the stories that will continue to unfold and have not yet been written.  I also hope to attend/support other rides that support mental health initiatives like Military Minds Inc, which is a PTSD fundraiser.  I think these things will actually help my mental health (and going for motorcycle rides is fun – the wind in one ear and out the other clears the cobwebs a bit).

MMI poker runMessage me if you want more details about the ride.

Thanks for following along on this journey through my thoughts.  I hope this shows that mental health is about awareness, and realizing that not all thoughts come together in a nice easy to understand package.