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What if people really saw us

What if people really saw us

Isn’t it odd.  We can only see our outsides, but nearly everything happens on the inside.
      – The Boy, the Mole the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy

If people could see us, truly see us…what would they think?  Would they see honour, integrity, courage, and loyalty?  Or would peeking behind the curtain reveal things that we may be hesitant to acknowledge: sadness, exhaustion, guilt and loneliness.   

Anger is the easy emotion- the suit of armour-  but it’s not what lies underneath.  

What strikes me, is that we wouldn’t feel the hard feelings if the good ones weren’t also true. 
We can’t feel guilt or shame if we don’t have integrity
We can’t feel loneliness if we haven’t known teamwork.
We can’t feel fatigue if we haven’t worked hard.
We can’t truly know sadness if we haven’t known love.
We are all these things. 

Perfect is overrated.  It’s the knocks and bruises that make us real.

Warm regards,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Executive Director, Landing Strong

How trauma defines us

How trauma defines us

Post-traumatic stress isn’t about what happens to us.  That’s only part of the equation.  It’s more about how we understand and react to life altering events that determines our path.

For decades comic books and stories have been used to show the struggle between good and evil, and the human response to trauma.

Darth Vadar witnessed the brutal murder of his parents by Imperial Forces.  Not having completed his Jedi training, he joined the Dark side as a way of regaining strength.  His trauma got the best of him.

Superman, as a child, was abducted from his alien planet, brought to earth, and re-homed with human parents.  Truly an illegal immigrant and refugee, he learned to hide his differences knowing that he was only safe by blending in to the dominant society.  Showing his differences (and strengths) made him vulnerable, yet he did so anyways, allowing him to be his true self.

In many ways, we are all characters in the story of our lives.  Although we may be injured from things that happen to us, we have the power to regroup, and find the strength to continue and move forward.  The more we are supported in this, the more likely we are to succeed.

We developed PTSD Hero comics to address themes of trauma and recovery. Although the stories are fictional, the characters experiences are based on the actual themes and events facing veterans and first responders.

This week, we are proud to release our newest video based on the second novel, Hero to Zero of our three part Stranger Returns series. Please enjoy this animated adaptation of Jay and his friends continued journey towards health.  Please share this with others to help spread the word of hope, resilience and recovery.

Stranger Returns Book 2 Video: Hero to Zero

If you missed the first video adaption of the Enemy Within, and want to catch up, we’ve provided a link below.
Stranger Returns Book 1 video: The Enemy Within

Warm regards,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Executive Director, Landing Strong

Every cloud has a silver lining

Every cloud has a silver lining

Have you noticed that time passes differently now that we’re not going anywhere?  Normally, holidays mark occasions where we reunite with family members.  This year it’ll be quite different.  Instead of travelling cross country, our cars overloaded with gifts, food and luggage, we’ll be spending time in smaller circles.  I’m sad I won’t see my extended family, so I’ve been making an effort to touch base more frequently by phone.  This week I was speaking with my father.  You’ve met him before: an interesting combination of artist, intellectual and eccentric.  He’s constantly searching for new and interesting ways to stay healthy. This week he shared that he’s experimenting with eating crickets to boost joint health.

“Crickets?!” I exclaimed, wondering what on earth is possessing him.

“Yes, they’re ground up into protein powder.  Can’t even taste them. I just add them to my stews” he explained in a self-satisfied tone. “I pick them up at Loblaws.  Expensive, but high quality and convenient.”

Suddenly the thought of not having the opportunity to fly to Toronto to share cricket stew with my father doesn’t seem so heartbreaking.  In fact, I’m increasingly experiencing the sensation of relief.

So when I feel those pangs of sadness, I’ll imagine my father happily slurping up those crusty insects.  Maybe I’ll even explore new and interesting ways of getting healthy over the holidays.  Although I don’t think I’ll be trying crickets anytime soon, I’m inspired by the way my father continues to focus on his health, knowing that he is not too old to find new growth.  

As we all think of ways to maintain or improve health, a gentle reminder that we are running our Emotions program: Stop Faking Good and Start Feeling Good this January.  Enrollment is strong, so we’re forming two groups: there’s a choice of Wednesdays or Fridays.  We’re also taking names for our Trauma Recovery Group: Your Past is not your Future, starting in late March.  And as always, anyone who has taken a course is eligible to attend our monthly Maintaining Health Programs: the third Thursday of each month.   Come jump on the train of recovery.  There’s a seat waiting for you!  Just drop us a line.

Warm regards,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Executive Director, Landing Strong

The things we don’t talk about

The things we don’t talk about

Sometimes, difficult memories can feel like we’re living with an elephant in the room.  It can be very hard to lead that elephant out, and so we might do our best to ignore him.  But that big ol’ elephant is stinky and takes up a lot of space.  There’s no room for anyone to get close while he’s around.  He may keep us awake at night, or make us feel small.  No one wants him around, yet he remains.  We’ll call him shame.  

Until we talk about it, nothing will change, and we will be stuck in the room with him.  It’s only by opening up and talking about the hard stuff that we can clear the air.  

By sharing the secrets that keep us isolated, we’re able to transform our experiences, learning to view them through a different lens.  When we tell ourselves the same narrative repeatedly, nothing changes.  By sharing with others, the story changes, allowing us to move forward.  

This week I’m awed by the courage shown by Landing Strong group members as they address the elephant, opening the door so that he might be nudged out of the room.  The result… a closely connected group of warriors, united by trust and respect, learning that maybe they aren’t so alone after all.

The thing is, most of us know what it’s like to live with an elephant.  And it takes a group of strong people, working together, to clear our lives of things that don’t belong there anymore.

Warm regards,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Executive Director, Landing Strong

This too shall pass

This too shall pass

In times of increased stress, we may not be able to carry our usual load with the same ease.  This doesn’t mean we’re getting worse or moving backwards in our recovery.  Rather, it’s a sign that we may need to adjust our approach.  PTSD recovery is a gradual process.  Background stress plays a significant role moderating the speed of recovery.  Needless to say, there’s nothing normal about what’s going on around us.  The end destination is still the same, but the way we need to get there may have changed. 

By extending patience and compassion toward ourselves, we’re able to keep on track rather than getting stuck in a cycle of self-criticism. 

These are hard times.  You’ll get there.  Know that this too shall pass.   

Warm regards,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Executive Director, Landing Strong

If I really listened, what might I hear?

If I really listened, what might I hear?

A few days ago I was shopping for groceries at Sobeys.  A tense-faced woman was having a loud and unhappy conversation on her phone in the middle of the fruit aisle. I scooted ahead, not wanting to be part of her troubled evening. It was the end of the day, and I was enjoying the freedom of deciding what we would have for dinner that night.  I didn’t want her loud voice intruding on my thoughts.  It seemed no matter which aisle I went down, she was a few steps behind me, continuing her tirade.  Everywhere I went, she followed.

It wasn’t until I was outside of the store that I was free of her.  Somehow I knew that her conversation had no chance of going well. There was a lot of talking going on, and no listening.

Native American Elder Sa’k’ej Henderson says “To truly listen is to risk being changed forever.”

What if we were all able to unplug, and simply listen?  How might the world transform in miraculous ways?

I listened to the wind this morning, and heard the promise of snow.
I listened to the quavering voice of someone speaking, and heard courage.
I heard someone speak of loneliness, and felt the group gather around in support.
 
Even if there’s nothing else I do next week, I hope to be a good listener.

Warm regards,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Executive Director, Landing Strong