LATEST EPISODE

Season 2: That's a Wrap!

The end of Season 2 is here. Ryan, Rick. and Brian McGrath recap this season along with all things OCJ from the last year.
The end of Season 2 is here. Ryan, Rick. and Brian McGrath recap this season along with all things OCJ from the last year.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

The Team at Our Collective Journey is here to help.

Our Collective Journey Podcast - From Darkness to Life

We know how the isolation and darkness of Mental Health, Addiction and other issues can impact your life. We have fought this Darkness that has brought us to the brink of taking our own lives. We are here to help with a level of understanding unparalleled. We are here to help bring you out of that darkness because someone was there to help us when we needed it. Someone seen us bigger then we seen ourselves when it was a struggle to keep going. Let us be there for you.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE… Please Reach Out
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Season 2: That's a Wrap!

Season 2: That's a Wrap!

The end of Season 2 is here. Ryan, Rick. and Brian McGrath recap this season along with all things OCJ from the last year.
July 7, 2022
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The Other Side with Lauren and Jamie

The Other Side with Lauren and Jamie

Lauren and Jamie have interesting stories involving addiction. One is an alcoholic in recovery and the other is a wife of an alcoholic. Together these ladies help others.
June 30, 2022
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Brian Reframes the Box

Brian Reframes the Box

Amber and Ryan welcome Brian to the show again. Brian is one of the founders of Optimal Recovery Coaching Associates (ORCA) located in White Rock, BC and is also in long term recovery.
June 23, 2022
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A Candid Conversation with MLA Michaela Frey

A Candid Conversation with MLA Michaela Frey

This week Rick and Ryan welcome a huge supporter of OCJ, MLA for the Brooks/Medicine Hat region Michaela Frey.
June 16, 2022
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A Holistic Journey of Healing and Helping Others

A Holistic Journey of Healing and Helping Others

Friend of OCJ, Pastor Dave Maneschyn joins Ryan to welcome this week’s guest Claire Rae. Claire shares parts of her early life and how addiction has stolen three very close people from her.
June 9, 2022
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Wherever I went, I was there...

Wherever I went, I was there...

Although my parents did the best they knew how, I learned at a very young age that Its not okay to be who I am. To express myself meant shaming, belittling, anger and hostility. It was quite confusing

Although my parents did the best they knew how, I learned at a very young age that Its not okay to be who I am. To express myself meant shaming, belittling, anger and hostility. It was quite confusing - I still don't understand why affection was always held from me but not my younger brother. u00a0 Throughout the years, I did everything I could to win over my parents and nothing changed. I did well in school, I worked part time, I graduated- moved out on my own. When my children were born, I got married. When my husband died- I got a university degree, I landed great jobs in the community, I made good money, raised two, well-adjusted children on my own and I have a very large social circle of close, loving friendships. I did all of this on my own- never asked for help as I thought being independent was a good thing.u00a0 After my brother died of a drug overdose, the relationship with my family became so hurtful and unhealthy and we have now been estranged for many years.u00a0

What my family and many of my friends did not know was the double life I had always been living. Since I was young, every free minute outside of my responsibilities I was drinking, using drugs, using people, using anything external to get outside of my busy, overactive brain.u00a0 My solution to every feeling that I felt was to have a drink or do drugs, or both. Bored-drink, insecure- drink beer. Happy- get wasted, stressed- smoke joints, anxious-hard alcohol, excited- blow, booze. Every social situation, funerals, weddings, birthday, holidays, Fridays, Saturdays.....eventually all of my friendships, hobbies, interests all revolved around drinking and drug use.u00a0

Throughout the past 18 years there were constant attempts at moderating, exploring other interests, counselling, journaling, reading books on self-growth, psychology and addiction courses, wellness courses, fitness challenges, diets, travel retreats, hanging out with nondrinkers and pretending to be interested. Nothing was exciting or felt right without drugs and alcohol taking me to the next level.u00a0u00a0u00a0

I was so incredibly sick and tired- exhausted and disgusted with who I was as a person. I felt so lost, so confused and couldn't understand why I hurt so many people and set myself back every time I was left to my own devices. Why did I hate myself so much?u00a0 My soul was screaming. My brain was fried.u00a0 I wanted more u2013 I knew there was more out there for me and I just couldn't seem to get it. In May 2018 I realized that I couldn't do this alone anymore. I asked for help. Since then my relationships are meaningful- healthy. My life has grown immensely. I am comfortable and proud of who I am.


If this person's story resonates with you, please message us and we can put you in contact with this individual. You are not alone.

June 15, 2021
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Asking For Help is not Weakness

Asking For Help is not Weakness

"In 2018 I tried to kill myself. I can count on one hand the amount of people I've ever said that to, and I can promise you that I've never shared that with anyone while I was sober...

"In 2018 I tried to kill myself. I can count on one hand the amount of people I've ever said that to, and I can promise you that I've never shared that with anyone while I was sober. It wasn't the first time I had thought about suicide and in fact I had thought it out over time. I had invested a lot of time into thoughts of why it needed to be done, how it needed to be done and had ultimately convinced myself that it was for the benefit of enough people that it was worth it.

One failed relationship after another largely in part to substance abuse and lack of self-care. I was acutely aware of the pain I had caused people so much so that I became unaware of just how much pain I was experiencing myself until it became too late.

To this day I don't know what prompted me to make a call to Edmonton from Halifax. I remember the call clearly though. JM is a dear friend of mine that I have always felt comfortable being vulnerable around. I still think about the things I said and the damage it caused to our friendship that day, but when she hung up the phone with me and called the RCMP I think she saved my life. If you're reading this I'm sorry and thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am so lucky to be able to share this message with anyone who wants to read it and without her it wouldn't be possible.

It took some time after that day to fully realize what I had narrowly avoided, and to be able to share my emotions with people who I didn't realize cared so much. They told me they did, but I didn't really realize it until I saw the look on their face when I told them. Its one of the great tragedies of my life that I doubted how much my close friends cared about me so much that I had to knock on death's door to see it for what it was. To them, I am also sorry, but owe them a great deal of thanks for helping me heal.

I had spent most of my life looking for some way to forget about the fact that I had grown up poor with very few friends. I was an outcast and over time learned to hate the world around me. This eventually turned in to anger toward everyone; my parents, the people around me, society. I thought what I needed was to be numb to it all. Rather than focusing my energy on resolving these thoughts I turned to alcohol and drugs to temporarily forget about them. What I didn't expect was that not processing these issues only brought them back stronger and more frequently when I wasn't under the influence. The more I used, the less I had to think about it. Concurrently though, more problems were popping up in my life. I wasn't paying my bills, I was being unfaithful and hurtful to my partners, I lost jobs, I lost friends and got a DUI. I didn't have an off switch anymore. I was so lost I didn't even remember where it all began anymore. Eventually over time I became depressed and lost my will to live.

Things began to change for me while I was in the military. I was still a functioning alcoholic and was dabbling in other things. This would ultimately lead to me getting out of the military but not before witnessing some life changing events. Watching my close friends who I often refer to as my brothers and sisters come home from overseas struggling to cope with depression and PTSD I began to look at ways I could help.

I left this career path and turned my focus to oil and gas where I've been lucky enough to find a great deal of success. I've spent the last eleven years on this journey in oil only to find myself still unfulfilled, and still struggling with addiction. Still constantly trying to repair the damages I have done to my once happy relationship with my partner who, for some reason, sees the good in me still and has come back to me time and time again, even though I push her away. She is my rock and I find inspiration through her daily.

Trying to kill myself was the most terrifying moment of my life, but it has taught me several things:

- I am loved

- I am not alone

- It is not worth it

Perhaps this isn't so much my story as it is my message, and my acknowledgement of the people that have helped and continue to help me along the way. You are not alone u2013 it is okay to need help sometimes."

If this person's story resonates with you, please message us and we can put you in contact with this individual. You are not alone.

June 8, 2021
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A Journey to Mental Wellness

A Journey to Mental Wellness

"I feel like throughout my 35 years of life, I cannot remember a time I wasn't struggling with mental health issues. It goes as far back as I can remember and started when I was diagnosed with ...

"I feel like throughout my 35 years of life, I cannot remember a time I wasn't struggling with mental health issues. It goes as far back as I can remember and started when I was diagnosed with juvenile epilepsy. But I didn't have the seizures you think of when you hear the word epilepsy. I had what are called absence seizures. It would look like I was staring off into space and I wouldn't hear anything around me for short periods of time, usually less than a minute. These seizures, along with the medications I took, made it hard for me to learn in school. I had to study extra hard to retain information and I distinctly remember that before I left elementary school I felt like I had an extremely low IQ. I was so convinced that I was stupid, that I begged my parents to give me an IQ test. They obliged and it was only after taking this test that I saw proof that made me believe I wasn't stupid.

After elementary, I had grown out of my juvenile epilepsy but was then medicated for ADD as I had a very hard time concentrating in school. The medication definitely helped in my concentration and I continued to use it for a good 10 years. By the time I was in University, I was abusing my medication because I would frequently want to pull all-nighters as I was also dealing with depression at this time.

Shortly after university, I stopped all my medication and it was at that time that I began noticing my intrusive thoughts more. These were the thoughts that would just randomly pop into my head and become stuck on repeat. But mine seemed different. They were always violent and disturbing. And I didn't dare tell anyone as I didn't want to be judged. I already had people in my life at the time that didn't believe I was depressed, so how would they have believed I was experiencing this. I don't want to go into too much detail about the nature of my intrusive thoughts, as they really are violent, but I feel that it might benefit someone out there to know that they are not alone if they have the same kinds of thoughts. My thoughts have always been about me bringing some kind of harm to those around me, particularly any animals that would be in my presence, such as family pets.

Finally, about 13 years ago, I told my family doctor what I was experiencing and she referred me to a psychiatrist. It turns out, other people have these intrusive thoughts too and they never act on them. I finally found out that I experience these thoughts because of OCD. Not the compulsive kind of OCD that would make a person check the door lock repeatedly, but the obsessive kind of OCD where a thought will come into my head and replay over and over and won't stop. I found a lot of comfort knowing that other people experienced what I was going through.

Fast forward to 7 years ago when I was in a serious relationship with someone who I thought I would be able to share my struggles with. I had expected to be met with compassion and understanding but instead, my partner was afraid that I would hurt our future children. For reasons beyond the obvious, this relationship didn't last.

Five years ago, I met my now husband. When I finally told him about my intrusive thoughts, I was met with the compassion and understanding I had always hoped for. That feeling of non-judgement lead me to open up to my close circle of friends about my thoughts. Again, no judgement. I was amazed at how accepting and loving these people were after I would reveal my struggles, especially since I had once thought it was such an ugly secret that no one would ever accept.

When my husband and I became pregnant 3 years ago, I knew that my intrusive thoughts would involve my children. It was a sad reality to know that once my baby was born I would begin having violent thoughts about them. I say this because it might be someone else's reality as well. I understand how disturbing it can be. It became really draining after I had my second child. Now I had two children I had intrusive thoughts about over a dozen times per day. When my youngest was 5 months old, I finally knew I needed to get help when I was starting to logically plan my suicide. I had dealt with violent thoughts for so long that I became so used to them. But when they started to become about me, I knew something wasn't right. Little did I know that I was actually suffering from post-partum depression. I always heard that post-partum depression was when you had thoughts about hurting your newborn. But since I already experienced this multiple times a day, I didn't even realize I was suffering from this depression.

Once I recovered from my post-partum depression, I decided that I no longer had the energy to deal with multiple violent thoughts about my children every day. My doctor and I came up with a treatment plan to manage my intrusive thoughts. For almost one year now, I have experienced minimal to no intrusive thoughts each day. It's really freeing and the violence in my mind is finally quiet. I know that this condition will be a lifelong one, but I thankfully now know that I can choose how loud these thoughts are. If you were to tell me 13 years ago that there would be a way I could live without these disturbing thoughts, I wouldn't have believed it. I suppose that's what has compelled me to tell my story. It really makes me believe that there is no situation too difficult to overcome."

If this person's story resonates with you, please message us and we can put you in contact with this individual. You are not alone.

May 17, 2021
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"Framing a Pathway Forward" CMHA Day a huge success!

"Framing a Pathway Forward" CMHA Day a huge success!

This day-long event was intended to help our community frame a pathway forward in healing through messages of HOPE.

This day-long event was intended to help our community frame a pathway forward in healing through messages of HOPE.

We heard from a wide variety of individuals from various backgrounds. Watch videos from the day below.

Our next Framing a Pathway Forward event is set to occur on September 10, 2021.

Our Collective Journey

Our Collective Journey is a peer support group formed in Medicine Hat that encourages individuals experiencing mental health and addiction issues to step out from behind the heavy curtain of shame.

Two of the founders, Ryan Oscar and Rick Armstrong have both experienced their own personal darkness and share stories of how they moved through that darkness and into a new light.

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) promotes the mental health of all and supports the resilience and recovery of people experiencing mental illness and addiction disorders.

Join Breanne Mellen our Suicide Prevention Coordinator and Allysa Larmor our Suicide Prevention Educator as they walk us through "Don't Just Survive, THRIVE." This is a presentation on how to overcome the challenges and disappointments that are an unavoidable part of life and get back to being the creator of your life.

To complete our first Framing a Pathway Forward event, the team wraps up what they have discussed over the day, and talks about what is coming up moving forward.

May 10, 2021
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Compliance vs. Surrender

Compliance vs. Surrender

There are two ways we can approach recovery: by simply complying with what is being asked of us, or surrendering our power. In our experience, individuals who surrender have much more ...

There are two ways we can approach recovery: by simply complying with what is being asked of us, or surrendering our power. In our experience, individuals who surrender have much more success staying in continuous recovery. Let's look at the differences:

Compliance?
The word compliance entails obeying what others are telling us to do. When we're complying, we may not even want to do what others are asking of us. Many people will comply with the wishes of their friends, loved ones, or even the legal system by going to treatment. I was one of them. However, I didn't have a true desire to recover from my addiction, I still thought I would be able to control it. We know that a person must want to recover in order to to have a solid chance at an alternate, healthy life.

Complying with treatment was just a temporary solution to satisfy others. In order to begin recovery through whatever method is selected (residential treatment, therapy, 12 Step program, etc.) it's rarely enough to simply comply. Instead, a person must surrender.

Surrender?
Surrendering, on the other hand, happens when we realize there is no exit plan, no easier, softer way. In my experience, I explored every other way and MY best thinking took me to suicide, the ICU, and a psychiatric ward. Twice. Committing to recovery was the only way to begin truly living a happy, fulfilled life without substance. I recognized that I could no longer continue fighting, hiding, and resisting. I realized I couldn't do this all on my own and I become open minded to something else guiding me. Something greater than myself.

When we surrendered, we took our ego u2013 one of the very things that got us into this situation in the first place u2013 out of the picture.

Nothing good can come of letting our egos control our thoughts and behaviours. When we are humble and let go of our ego, it allows us to accept our lives the way they are in this moment. Totally present. We accept that we are where we are and that's okay. We begin to realize all we can control is our own thoughts and behaviours.

Once I was able to fully surrender, I could start my recovery journey.


If you or someone you know is struggling with this, please reach out to OCJ. We can help explore options with you. You are not alone.

April 28, 2021
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If you need help... reach out!

We've ALL been there (literally). Our Collective Journey offers a no-BS approach to help you collect the resources you need to put your life back on track.  There is no cost for this support, and we are ready 24 hours a day.

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