Seeing the Invisible Illness

Post-traumatic stress disorder doesn’t have to rule your life, damage your career or define your identity

Farrier Takeaways

  • If you’ve experienced a life-threatening event and struggle with flashbacks, nightmares, intense irritability, addictions or other problems, you could have post-traumatic stress disorder and not realize it.
  • Working with a therapist or counselor can help you learn healthy ways to cope with PTSD symptoms and start on your road to wellness.
  • If you think you need help and you don’t know how to get it, reach out to a family member, a trusted friend or your family doctor. You are not alone.

For farrier Steve McConnell, the day his life changed started out like any other. One moment, the Waterford, Ontario, native was absorbed in the ordinary task of fueling his shoeing rig for the week; the next, he was drowning in a powerful vortex of emotions and memories he’d spent years trying to forget. Although he didn’t know it at the time, McConnell was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder — an unwelcome souvenir from his years spent in military service as a young man, and one that was affecting his everyday life in ways he didn’t fully understand.

“I had no clue what was going on in my life until I was diagnosed,” McConnell says. “Once my therapist and I broke everything down, the best we could figure was that during one of the traumatic situations I experienced in the military, there was an overwhelming smell of diesel. I never thought about it until I got my diesel truck. The smell of filling that truck up once…

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Allison rehnborg

Allison Armstrong Rehnborg

Allison Armstrong Rehnborg is a free­lance writer and pho­tog­­ra­pher from Nashville, Tenn. She has been pub­lished by several equine titles.

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