Jonathan joined the Canadian Armed Forces because he was looking for a challenge. He wanted to experience something extraordinary and see what he was capable of. He arrived in Afghanistan confident and extremely well prepared. The challenges were extreme, but Jonathan was proud to be contributing to a cause. Then, one August day, he was involved in a tragic accident that would change his life. Jonathan just didn’t know it yet. He left the military because he was injured, but the damage was more insidious than he realized, and far worse beneath the surface. Jonathan had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but the signs did not appear until later on.
It would be a few years before the signs showed themselves more clearly. His disorder would stir up strong feelings, but Jonathan would sweep everything under the rug. He was sure he would be able to get through it alone. Even though he had learned to recognize his strengths in the army, his mental health issues would later teach him to acknowledge his limits—for example, that he would not be able to get better without help. Jonathan eventually got professional help and started taking prescription medication, but continued to feel defeated. For him, every second was a battle: against his symptoms, against others and against himself. He felt as if he was wandering through life without a bulletproof vest, trying to avoid incoming fire and inevitably getting hit right in the heart, by way of judgment from former teammates, a lack of empathy, and hurtful words. Jonathan did not want to give up, but he wanted to stop suffering, so he tried to end his life. This low point was a wake-up call. Jonathan would never be the same again. He had to come to terms with this new version of himself. He finally asked for help. It took all of his courage to do that. Undertaking long-term therapy with other PTSD sufferers has been beneficial and helped him rebuild his life. Meanwhile, Jonathan has also started to regain physical health by changing certain habits, now managing to sleep, eat well and be more active. He takes what he calls his “battle” one day at a time. Supported by people who care about him, he enjoys the good times and is able to get through the bad times. Jonathan has chosen happiness, come what may.