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PTSD Mental Health Recovery Glacier Expedition – Day 20 – Instinctual Power to Heal

Back to Base Camp

Well , it’s certainly nice to be back at camp today. Far far away from all the unruly chaos, overwhelming stress and anxiety that the rest of the world seems to be enduring by the minute, at a rate to which we all crave anyhow .

The past few days being in Kelowna sure has been an eye opener of an experience. When we checked into the hotel, not a single car in the parking lot and the woman behind the counter was shielded by a big huge massive piece of plexiglass.

What on earth is going on here really ?

When Jill and I got into the elevator, I reached to hit the 5th floor button only to look up and see this massive sheet of paper with a 3 step process on how to wash your hands with hand sanitizer / soap water.

Are you kidding me right now ? I felt as though we have just arrived on a totally different planet. From the beautiful backcountry mountains to where nothing has changed since the beginning of time, to this elevator instructing me as if I was 4 years old on how to wash my hands ? This is utterly insane.

As the elevator took us to the 5th floor, a vision crossed my mind. At this rate, it wont be long before we do not even need that woman behind the counter. I feel this is just the transition stage to dehumanizing us and preparing us and the next generations for a more robotic, cyber world where humans are no longer needed.

I imagined the future where that plexiglass would just be a hologram of digital looking human programmed to greet you and point us on our way as our room keys will just be a quick touch of our device against the door scanner.

The guy at the gas station also sat behind some plexiglass window and really did nothing other than point to the scanner to which I needed to scan my own bottle of water and honey bun before my bank card. Why do we need him either ?

The reality of this is quite frightening.

What did we as a community, a civilization do to prepare for such insanity ?

What tools were any of us ever taught to endure such psychological torture ?

How it is that billions and billions of dollars are spent each year on our armed forces while yet, not one single penny or minute has been put into our education to manage our emotional wellbeing during these times ?

Our instinctual responses, our rational brain .. washed and deleted.

Why is it that not any of us has thought about a “worst case scenario”, for ourselves, our families, our children, our communities .. most importantly the future of humanity ?

We have unconsciously contributed to building this cage to which we now find ourselves sitting at home while the 4 walls close in around us wondering when will we go back to work, how will we pay our bills, how long will this last, feeding my family, rent, insurance, and oh my my my what about my Sunday afternoon foot ball games, casino’s, Starbuck coffee’s, and our Facebook and Instagram accounts ?

Last month, when the stay at home, wash your hands, keep your distance order came down the line I looked at Jill and said “pack a suitcase, we have a train to catch ”.

My head collapsed into my hands as I sat there for about 0.22 seconds before the animal instinct part of my brain responded naturally.

We needed to escape now and begin getting very used to the feeling of our freedom being taken away and start applying the tools we practice each day anyhow as we have prepared for many years for this exact circumstance.

This decision came to us naturally, we could either sit around watching the news and all the other crap they try to feed the people, or make a rational decision to start getting used to being uncomfortable and do what ever it takes to survive this new world that surrounds us.

10 years ago, I had been diagnosed with PTSD, fired and left out to the wolves to fend for myself, told to go here, go there, fill this out, that person will help you, sorry we’re closed, you don’t qualify. come back in 3 weeks, your hour is up.

I believed and trusted in the system to protect, help, support and feed my family until I could get back on my feet again.

That lesson cost me my family, career, and home on top of the numerous suicide attempts, psychological torture and more emotional pain that I could ever try to express in this blog.

After 5 long years of being whipped, flogged and humiliated by the system, I escaped the cage and awoke up here to the mountains.

What’s the first thing we absolutely must have in order to survive ?

Shelter – The mountains could care less if your cold , wet and miserable.

Water – will always be, just as “we” are water.

Food – cavemen didn’t have grocery stores.

Fire wood  – no brainer.

As we rummage around here the mountains, I can only imagine the over whelming amount of stress and anxiety it would cause a new comer to this strange land, or say worse off if some sort of world wide pandemic happened and humans were left to survive on their own without the convenience of our “paid for” amenities.

Would then a psychologist feed us, build our shelter, and bring us heat, or better yet , would it be reasonable to think we could sit in an office and “talk” our way through this ?

Our brain are designed to operate with 3 pistons.

1) Instinctual
2) Rational
3) Emotional

In todays new world, ( last century at the least ) our brain ( BOS = Brains Operating System ) is clearly functioning with only 20% of the emotional piston.

Jill suggested to me the other day to perhaps not assume the people can read between the lines and that I needed to spell it out.

Ok so .. what I mean is, our BOS is only using 1 of our 3 pistons to operate. Our instincts are constantly giving off more and more energy ( since we were born ) each and every breath to try and protect us from this crazy inhumane world around us, while the rational brain is trying desperately rationalize our emotions that have not been responded to instinctually.

Yikes, did this even make sense ? I admit, I do find this way of communicating on a keyboard by far the toughest, most stressful challenge of my life.

Surviving the streets, jails, gangs, prison, illegal substances, etc etc was the easy part .. and now after 46 years someone turned on all the lights, cleared the smoke and left it in my lap ( so it feels ) to try and summarize it all on some blog post with a few pictures.

One day, this will all make more sense .. to who .. not my business – we have work to do.

Best part of being out here with Jill, is that she has the same lived experience when it comes to survival and without words even need to be spoken, she is able to leap into action even with just one hand and begin setting up our shelter out from the rain, snow and wind.

A nice dry place to keep our gear, some food rations, and enjoy our meals no matter what the conditions maybe around us.

Just before we left the cabin, I thought it would be wise to buck up some dry fire wood knowing that the temperatures up here certainly drop below freezing.

Then I thought, nah, that would be too easy and what kind of survivalist brings their own firewood on a expedition ?

I mean, we are on a mountain where one would assume that there would be a endless supply of wood.

Boy oh boy was I ever wrong , another extremely valuable lesson I learned not from google or someone telling us, rather having to just look for it on our own was gruelling work in itself – experiential.

We began searching around our base camp but with no luck, mind you there was still plenty of snow on the ground so this search in itself would be a all day task.

We grabbed the kyack and started out on the adventure.

This is our number 1 priority now , and even though it’s almost been over a week since we flipped the tire , nothing matters more than our personal safety, and be equipped with a safe shelter, fresh water, and fire wood.

There is no time limit in nature, you just have to do what you got to do in that very moment to survive, no matter what.

This is something we are both very familiar with .

There is no thought about it,

This is a natural response to our environment.

Truth be told, we are only doing the same thing today as we do everyday now for many years ( repeat ) 

When I experienced homelessness nearly 6 years ago, the amount of work that went into just keeping a roof over my head, hunting, fishing and finding fire wood was so gruelling but yet so rewarding and essential to my well being.

That was the key to my recovery.

That was the “work” that had to be done from within if I wanted to live to see another day period cause I assure you yet again that Santa Clause is not going to just give your life back.

The lights are not always going to be on.

The electricity owes you nothing.

The grocery stores are not always going to have umm toilet paper ?  ( what have we become ) and your neighbour, co worker and close family are not always going to just be a phone, Skype or Zoom call away and even if they are, ( which sure is great don’t get me wrong ) but we still have many many hours in every single day to navigate our way through.

No it’s not easy.

Like. i’m talking every 13 seconds you just want to give up, be done with it and go home to a nice toasty cabin, food in the cupboard , water on tap,  a nice soft bed and good old net flick with a bag of Jalapeno popcorn and a icy cold root beer to wash it down.  Haha .. Dam right.

Ahh the human – nice and relaxed, easy going, smooth sailing and everything is going to be ok .

Is it now ?

I hope that my writing this blog post isn’t coming off negative. I’m merely just sharing my diary from my own personal observations from a side of the tracks that very few in the world have or can stand on after 46 years of experiencing life in these shoes.

I invite you to also try stepping away from your plastic master for 7-10 days and sitting with yourself far far away from civilization and write your feelings, emotions, observations from your own stand point and experience in life and take into consideration just how life was 1000 years ago, and what it will be in 100 years from now.

Sitting with self, detached from the media allows me to think more clear without being distracted by all of the noise.

At the end of the day, i’m not here to ruffle feathers, nor revolt against the system. I’m alive today to share my experience and do my best with what little time ( we all ) have left on this earth to do our best to help the future of humanity.

When I look outside at our mental health system, treatment centres, homelessness, violence, crime, suicide, depression, it is 10 000 times what it has ever been in history which my observations through a lived experience leads me to see the problems clearly in order to have my personal opinions and suggestions for healthier, more positive solutions that would not cost a single penny and would improve humanities over all well being 10 fold if more of us would come together, peacefully and stand for change.

Surrey Fire and Rescue
Surrey Fire and Rescue with Dylan, Aaron, Joe, Jill

Photos by: Adventure Photographer
Jillian A Brown
Camp My Way CEO

Your Friend, Our Voice
Terrance J. Kosikar Ph.D.

Hey man.
I’ve been following you guys for a bit now, and I love what you are doing! I am a person who has struggled with mental health for most of my life. 5 years ago I suffered a massive burnout. I was literally trapped in my basement for 2 years. I was told to go get diagnosed for PTSD but never followed through. I’m in a better place than I’ve ever been, and I want to support your cause. I’m wondering if I can tag you in my own “mini version” of what you guys are doing. I got myself a 210 lb tire, and I’m going to be flipping it around my property. For every flip, I’m going to donate .50 to your campmyway group. I’m donating $1 per flip in total. .50 to your organization, and .50 to a local charity that deal with mental health (I live in Dawson Creek, but grew up in Abbotsford). Anyways, not trying to steal your thunder there, I just love what you’re doing and want to help!

Doug Young


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