Suffering from PTSD and Depression, Steve Archambault had to face his own darkness on his path of recovery.
Military veteran Steve Archambault is someone who knows what it means to be in battle, having completed a U.N. Peacekeeping mission in Cyprus as a Corporal in the Canadian Infantry. But his biggest war has not been on enemy lines, it has been within himself.
Like many military veterans, he suffers from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as well as Depression. It was nine months ago when his life experiences caught up to him and he “broke,” forcing the former soldier to face the internal wounds of battle and the toll they had taken on his psyche.
“I wanted to die,” he says. “I have lived with this for a long time, but at the darkest point, I had a plan, I had a date, and I was setting everything up to that I could go through with it.”
His resilience proved stronger than his illness, and he chose to give life a second chance.
“I have always been a fighter. How long I struggled for is proof that I am not easily taken down,” he says. “I guess I thought that life had a lot more to offer.”
Archambault explains that this was the third “break.” The first happened eight years ago, but the fear and shame that he felt when it came to his illnesses prevented true recovery at that time.
“At this time I did not realize the work that I was doing [towards recovery] was only half-hearted. I honestly thought that I was trying my best and finding what I needed,” he explained. “I didn’t realize that I was taking one step forward and two steps back into the dark pits of fear and shame.”
The fear and shame stemmed from his military background. He maintains that despite all of the negative experiences, he had to face as a soldier, opening up about emotions or asking for help was counter to the image of courage that a soldier is expected to show.
“In the infantry it was our job to close in and destroy,” he explains. “You cannot make someone take another human being’s life without messing with their brain a little bit. My personal belief is that no one comes out of the military without damage. It’s not possible.”
Archambault’s four-year military career ended in 1994, but he continued to carry the emotions deep within himself until he hit his true bottom in November of 2014.
“Sometimes we have to find out bottom to find recovery,” he explains. “I realized when I hit my darkness, that if I didn’t go deep, if I didn’t face my darkness, I would have died.”
Following his departure from the military, Archambault entered into a career in finance. However, he recognized the importance of taking the focused time to truly explore his illness and what was needed to become well. Today, on sabbatical, recovery is his focus.
“Recovery is getting up and working on [myself] as if I was getting a pay cheque [to do it],” he says. “[It] has become more important to me than anything else.”
Archambault still carries around memories and emotions, but through recovery he is learning to open up about them despite what others may think. He urges others to do the same.
“No matter what anybody says, don’t be afraid to say you are hurting. You are not weak. No matter how small you think the incident was, reach out because it will only get bigger as time goes on.”