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25 Days 25 Push Ups

In Support of People Dealing with Mental Health Issues Leading to Suicide

Matthew Senf was nominated by a childhood friend to do 25 push ups for 25 days to raise awareness and support for people struggling with mental health challenges: PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), anxiety and depression.  Matthew is a renaissance man and wears many hats.  He volunteered in the Vancouver Downtown Eastside as a chaplain, is an ordained Lutheran Pastor and holds degrees in Political Science, Religious Studies and Theology.  Lets not forget, he builds homes and motorcycles as well. 

Here is our interview with him.

What inspired you to do this challenge?

I was nominated on Facebook by an old friend from grade school.  I have been asked to participate in this kind of challenge before to raise awareness for this type of good cause but, this time was very special as I did it with a group of folks that I went to school with from kindergarten on.

What do you know of PTSD and the effects of it speaking to your friends and also with your volunteer work with people?

I think most of the time when we hear the term PTSD we think of folks who have served in action positions in the military, police services, paramedical and fire services but I have come to learn that post traumatic stress disorder can be suffered by children and mothers, the elderly and pretty much anyone across society.  The important words are stress and trauma.  When people are up against situations that they cannot control or even affect, that represent a significant threat to their person, their livelihood, their future or the people they love their mental health starts to fray.  If these people are not removed from these situations of massive stress and given the care and support they so desperately need, they begin to look for any way to get out of the situation of stress that is crushing their psyche. Often times the only way that seems plausible is suicide.

From your conversations with friends with PTSD as part of their story, what is the best way to be a friend to others who struggle with it?

I think we all need to be very careful when we are being a friend to anyone who is struggling with profound mental health issues.  Sometimes advice given with the best intentions can lead to a worsening situation. People suffering from diagnosed PTSD need professional help and often medication.  The best help is to be present, to show support, encouragement and genuine care.

Mental health is really important in these times and during this pandemic, what ways do you stay grounded as a business owner and family person?    What are some rhythms and routines you encourage people to consider making part of their lifestyle?

I think it’s more important than ever to watch our transference.  We are all under additional stress and it is typical to vent that increased anxiety in “safe spaces” which usually end up being our primary relationships.  These relationships are already under strain because of the isolation factor which this pandemic is forcing on us so to spew out all our anxiety and stress on the people we love who themselves are worn out is super harmful.  Keep focused family activities (ie. meal times) going.  Make greater efforts to keep your friendship networks together (calls, video conferencing etc.).  Get outside, walk, be active.

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“Watch out for our transference.  We are under additional stress so it is typical to vent that increased anxiety in “safe spaces.”  In these times of isolation, we may spew out our anxiety onto people we love (our primary relationships)  who may be worn out and potentially be super harmful.  We need to be creative and make greater efforts to keep our friendship networks together (calls, video conferencing, FaceTime).”  – Matthew Senf