“Locked and Loaded!” What is it like to live your life in fight/flight 24/7?

Steve Sparks, Mental Health Advocate, Author, Blogger…

https://www.verywellmind.com/ptsd-and-depression-2797533

Research has found that half of all people with PTSD also have a co-occurring major depressive disorder.”

I remember many scary traumatic events in my life as a child, and young adult, including being injured while serving in the US Navy. And the story of trauma continues for a life time…

I don’t remember some events because of repressed memory, an inherant defensive rewire of the brain, creating a flight/fight response. This chronic hyper vigilant and hyper arousal behavior can be annoying to others at a personal level or an asset in your professional life, as was the case for me.

These excruciating painful events occupy my brain 24/7. The horrific experiences as a child and adult do not go away, never ever. It is very easy to give up and complete suicide for too many souls at any age. Aging men, like me, who suffer a life time without treatment can reach a point where the pain is unbearable, and the only escape is to complete suicide.

I’m grateful at age 74 on July 6th to have loving support at home. It’s not easy for spouses, partners, loved ones, and dear friends to be with a person who suffers from serious mental health problems. Without a circle of support and robust behaviorial health treatment, I would be added to the list of aging men and women who live with unbearable emotional pain, and at risk of self injury or worse. It takes a village of kind and loving folks to help those who suffer a life time. These are the people in my life who help me stay grounded and positive. I’m so grateful for my spouse and close friends in our community of Lincoln County Oregon who are so supportive and caring… Thank you all!

Because it is challenging for others, some relationships, especially family, do not survive easily with the secondary emotional pain. Having a consistent loving connection with someone who is seriously challenged with PTSD and major depression is a tough assignment. Love is the only answer to healing as a family. Worse yet, the symptoms can be more troublesome with age and require a daily practice and discipline of mindfulness meditation practices, psychiatric supervision of medications, and trauma informed clinical therapy. I feel lucky to have found the right mix of treatment strategies. I now have hope for better days ahead. Click below…escape for a moment to calm the soul…

The hardest part of mental illness is the stigma that separates those of us who suffer from friends and loved ones more often than not, even for good when the going gets really tough. Worse yet is finding an effective “trauma informed” treatment and recovery support system is very complicated. It has taken me more than five decades to get to a place where feeling safe is possible. Folks with my long list of painful stuff over a life time feel “locked and loaded 24/7” without hardly a moment of peace. You learn to live this way and all too often don’t even realize the roots of the post trauma crises that persists over time.

I would suggest to anyone asking me about my experience and journey of healing that awareness is the first step in finding a better place in your life in managing emotional pain. Baby steps and daily actions that lead to some sense of calmness and stability can open the door to long term mitigation of symptoms that torture the mind and body. It is a work in progress. But it requires commitment, freedom from denial, acknowledgement of the symptoms, robust truama informed treatment, and most importantly, loving support from loved ones and dear friends who are caring.

Get started with your own plan to develop a high level of awareness on mental health. Talking to others and opening up is the first action step. You will easily see and feel the souls of others in your circle of friends and family who have empathy and compassion, and desire to make a difference with a loving and caring response. And, yes, it is hard, very hard at times. Look to each new day with hope and love. It is possible to heal and get better. It is possible to achieve peace of mind in your life. Lost souls do return home with strong faith in a higher power and spiritual growth in your own way. There is no black and white formula for healing.

Best wishes to all for a life of peace and happiness… It’s up to you!

Steve Sparks

click here for my author page…

Mental Health First Aid for Seniors and Loved Ones…

Mental Health First Aid for Older Adults  from NYC Health…City of New York

Go to…Mental Health First Aid 8 hour training…  The Mental Health First Aid USA for Older Adults curriculum is primarily focused on information participants can use to help adults ages 65 and over.

I didn’t know until being certified as a Mental Health First Aid Adult Trainer in 2016 that mental health and depression in older adults is often ignored or dismissed. I also didn’t know that among the elderly population, aging white males commit suicide in America at a 98% higher rate than all others.  I was actually shocked at first but now understand (Colorado State University report). “In the United States, older men of European descent (so-called white men) have significantly higher suicide rates than any other demographic group. For example, their suicide rates are significantly higher than those of older men of African, Latino or Indigenous descent, as well as relative to older women across ethnicities.”

Depression is the culprit, especially for those who have difficulty being as opposed to doing.  I consider myself in the category of an older white male who loves living in the moment or being, but also thrives in doing the things I care about.  

When my own retirement became a reality, it was very tough to find the the new chapter of doing something that provided me with the same ego fulfilling experience as did my long corporate and business career.  I found after experimenting with volunteer work in the community and public service that making a difference for others gave me the balance needed to thrive and preserve a healthy mind and body.  

We older Americans, by choice, can map out our lives by being ourselves in the context of all we care about, including pursuing professional and vocational outlets for continued growth and personal rewards.  

We can also take in the romance and adventure offered in life by fulfilling your bucket list of the amazing places to visit and explore around the globe or at home.  There are so many things to do as we age, assuming our good health is maintained.

For me, getting older is a privilege…many never see the morning sun of old age.  We owe to ourselves and others to show the way with our wisdom until the very last day of our lives…

Judy and Steve Sparks, Children and Family Advocates…

Mental Health First Aid USA for Aging Citizens…Especially During a National Crisis…

Mental Health First Aid for Older Adults  from NYC Health…City of New York…

“Mental illness and aging can often be a double stigma. According to the National Council on Aging, the number of Americans 85 and older will triple by the year 2050. Older adults and care partners are less likely to identify a problem as a symptom of a mental health disorder. Furthermore, older adults have high rates of late onset mental health disorders (anxiety/depression) and low rates of identification and treatment. This curriculum module will help existing Adult MHFA Instructors in good standing reach this population with updated prevalence data, a new film, and scenarios.”

Go to…Mental Health First Aid 8 hour training…  The Mental Health First Aid USA for Older Adults curriculum is primarily focused on information participants can use to help adults ages 65 and over.

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I didn’t know until being certified as a Mental Health First Aid Adult Trainer in 2016 that mental health and depression in older adults is often ignored or dismissed. I also didn’t know that among the elderly population, aging white males commit suicide in America at a 98% higher rate than all others.  I was actually shocked at first but now understand why (Colorado State University report). “In the United States, older men of European descent (so-called white men) have significantly higher suicide rates than any other demographic group. For example, their suicide rates are significantly higher than those of older men of African, Latino or Indigenous descent, as well as relative to older women across ethnicities.”

Depression is the culprit, especially for those who have difficulty being as opposed to doing.  I consider myself in the category of an older white male who loves living in the moment or being, but also thrives in doing the things I care about.  When my own retirement became a reality, it was very tough to find the the new chapter of doing something that provided me with the same ego fulfilling experience as did my long corporate and business career.  I found after experimenting with volunteer work in the community and public service that making a difference for others gave me the balance needed to thrive and preserve a healthy mind and body.  We older Americans, by choice, can map out our lives by being ourselves in the context of all we care about, including pursuing professional and vocational outlets for continued growth and personal rewards.  We can also take in the romance and adventure offered in life by fulfilling your bucket list of the amazing places to visit and explore around the globe or at home.  There are so many things to do as we age, assuming our good health is maintained.

In terms of mental health awareness, there is a higher probability of achieving and maintaining a healthy frame of mind by staying actively engaged, especially in social groups in the community.  Humans are herding beings and starve for social interaction and attention. Humans are not designed to be alone.  We are also challenged in today’s world when families become separated by great distances and live their own busy lives.  Older adults can become lonely and depressed over time.  A healthy body can take a big hit over time if one’s mind becomes depressed.  Being alone and less than engaged or active with others can cause a person to stop eating in healthy ways and exercising to stay in good shape.  Health issues can take shape gradually by not being active.

Sometimes though it feels like there is no place for us older Americans, so giving up is a risk. There will be starts and stops along this journey of aging, even some failures that are painful or hurtful.  But never give up…keep pushing and trying with your heart and mind.  Yes, take a break when needed, then try something new.  Get engaged with a reset attitude with new goals and opportunities.  Never say, “I’m done, it’s over.”  It is not in our nature to give up on anybody or anything, so keep on keeping on.  We live so much longer now in the 21st Century.  We boomers in our 70’s are needed in our community with our exceptional leadership qualities, wisdom, and new energy.  My grandson told me several years ago that older adults are needed to  mentor the younger generation succeeding us.  We are needed, so don’t run away.  Get busy and make stuff happen.  And don’t forget to create a balance so that the needed nap in the afternoon comes easily.  Go on the adventure to Alaska or Australia.  Take in the cultural events in your community.  Spend quality time with your family and friends and experience all the joys that life has to offer.  Remember, getting older is a privilege…many never see the morning sun of old age.  We owe to ourselves and others to show the way with our wisdom until the very last day of our lives…

Judy and Steve Sparks, Children and Family Advocates…

“I’m Fine!” What does that mean?

Have you ever wondered the real meaning of “I’m fine!”? Pause, pause…

“I’m fine” is the consequence of stigma. Most who suffer from even average emotional challenges are all too often shunned in society. So much so that going untreated and not shared with others will often grow worse.

Other unhealthy ways like alcohol and drugs will be the outlet. And why we as intelligent humans allow this to happen?

We are not open to what is considered a scary and uncomfortable conversation for most. In fact a trigger for others who need to talk in a safe place.

Once untreated serious depressive symptoms appear, suicide becomes a much higher risk, especially for white males in 70s. Find out why?

Please think about the unintended consequences. Ask yourself if your friend, loved one or colleague needs help. Just listen and build trust, no hurry. Take a Mental Health FirstAid USA class. You can make a difference and save lives…

Judy and Steve Sparks, SparksAssociates, “Building Healthy Communities w/Love.”