As I sat on the deck of the Ferry on my way home on the final day of The Rolling Barrage uncontrollably crying with tears rolling down my face, looking at the water, I felt so overwhelmed I could not handle all the emotions that were coming out.

There were so many emotions exploding at once that I could not grasp what was happening. It was like a big dump of feelings all at once. I was so confused I couldn’t understand why all these emotions and thoughts were coming out now. I just finished an epic journey of a lifetime learning more about myself and healing from PTSD. The end part of the journey was epic you will have to do a Full Pull to get the true meaning of what happens on the ride and the end is mind-blowing.

The ceremony at the end was a way for the full pullers to leave what they want to leave behind from the full ride. For me the ending represented leaving my negative thoughts there in the parking lot. I thought I left all the shit emotions in the parking lot with the end ceremony. But it only took a few hours for the feeling to rush back popping like balloons. Too much to handle and I was crying on the car deck of the ferry wanting them all to go away.

With an intense feeling of not wanting to live anymore, also came deep feelings of survival. With that I remembered something said to me the first few days of the ride when I was in the rabbit hole once again and a fellow Veteran saw I was struggling and hurting and said to me something I needed to hear.

Again I looked at the water wanting to jump in to stop the overpowering feelings. Been there many times before, but this time I decided to dig down deep and use my tools and reach out and phoned a person in my new TRB family. I have learned with all my therapy over the years that I need to be vulnerable in order to heal. The Journey and the ride with the Rolling Barrage ended up being a safe place for me to be more vulnerable so I could do more healing.

Last year I was supposed to be on one of the legs of the The Rolling Barrage but something happened unexpectedly and I couldn’t make it. So after Christmas of this year me and a friend of mine decided that we’re going to do the Full Pull.

So, I signed up for the Full Pull. The hotels were booked, flights made and the bike put on the truck for the trip across Canada.

A few days before the flight, my anxiety was going through the roof. The trip was getting close, things were happening and the feelings were coming. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go. I was thinking about pulling out because the anxiety was too high, feelings were overwhelming and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to leave my safe place and my service dog. There were a lot of first things on this trip without my dog. (That’s for another story).

The first few days were rough. My anxiety was through the roof, my window of tolerance was small, I couldn’t really think straight and my emotions were all over the place. I couldn’t really pinpoint what was going on and then I realized it was because of the dedication in the morning. The dedications were for the fallen somebody that took their lives because of PTSD’s demons.

The dedications were rough for me because it reminded me of all the Brothers and Sisters I lost and for my two attempts. The first attempt was pills I just wanted to go to sleep and not wake up and the second attempt, I went into the garage smoked a joint put on my two bikes and wanted to go to sleep. I was almost there until the cops broke down the door and took me to the hospital.

The dedications every morning brought back my survival’s guilt, shame and guilt surrounding my own suicide attempts. I have done a lot of work surrounding my PTSD, been to two treatment centers, first in St Ann’s in Quebec for 5 and 1/2 months, and Homewood for 3 months.

All they did was dope me up on pills. I learned over the last few years in my journey through PTSD one of the things that works for me is being vulnerable and weed but that is another story. Being vulnerable is something a soldier is never allowed to be.

So here I am, the window of tolerance is getting smaller, emotions are all over the place, feelings of guilt and shame are unbearable, and once again I am in a place where the darkness takes over and I want to end it all and ride into an oncoming semi and stop all the emotions dead stop. So the roller coaster continued like this for a few days. Two or three days into the ride, I realized my emotions were all out of wack and I was beating myself up pretty hard for not being able to handle things like a soldier.

I think it was the third or fourth day and I broke down, started crying uncontrollably and my emotions came out every which way. I broke down with shame and guilt comes in and makes me feel week and feel like a soldier anymore and I can’t go on this way. Then a good friend now a Brother on the ride came up to me and saw that I was hurting and he said to me once I told him I didn’t feel like a soldier anymore and I was beating myself up he said to me, “Yance you’re not a soldier anymore, you’re a Veteran healing.

That really struck a chord with me and I realized at that moment, that was what I was trying to do with all the programs and work I have done so far…. was to heal and I have to give myself the chance at being a Veteran that is healing and not broken.

In order to heal I have to make new pathways away from my trauma pathways.

So after about 7 or 8 days, I decided to do a dedication to me and I talked about my suicide attempts because I didn’t want to run anymore from those emotions and demons. And being vulnerable in front of loving people that get me and understand was a way for me to make another healthy pathway towards healing.

So one morning before the ride I got up in front of the crowd. My anxiety was out to lunch. But I knew I had to speak from the heart and let it go. I realized as I was talking people were putting their hands on my shoulders they were giving me love, my brothers and sisters after gave me hugs, and enormous love and support, there was no judgement just love.

For one of the first time in a long time the guilt and shame was getting smaller and my Window was opening and it felt ok. I felt safe, I felt all the people around me understood and got it. I felt the healing journey start.

With that my whole attitude changed. I started to get to know people, I started to have fun and got to see things. The ride was amazing. Some days I went out on my own just so I could have my own little journey and that was truly truly peaceful and what I needed. I owe that to another sister on the ride. She told me it’s my Journey and ok to go by myself and heal. And also she expressed that a added bonus is that you knew that when you got to the hotel that night all your brothers and sisters were there to help you and keep you safe and give you love and hugs you would need.

After that moment my journey and feelings started to open. My window of tolerance was getting bigger which in turn allowed me to enjoy the journey a lot more.

I started to see more things about myself and learn. I realized how important it was to go my own path. I always liked that poem by Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken”. I’ve always been the one to take the road less taken. So I went by myself on my own a few times and I learned a lot more about myself.

This day I was riding through the prairies and all I could smell was lavender. And I remember from some Wounded Warrior courses that a smell may help you out of those dark moments, lavender was kind of my smell. So I pulled over got off my bike and walked into the lavender field and for the first time in a long time I felt at peace, free and truly happy, almost like I didn’t have a care in the world, and at that moment my anxiety I lived with all the time was gone. I felt truly free for a moment from my PTSD.

From that moment the high carried on all day. It usually takes me a long time to trust and I always feel on guard usually around people I don’t know or crowds and places I don’t trust. Going into a business or a restaurant I always have to set my back to the wall It’s really bothersome really causes me a lot of fucking grief and major anxiety.

After the ride through the Prairie’s and Lavender field, it ended being my second best memory of the whole ride.

So that night we were at a function outside, and I went and sat down with some of my new family with tears in my eyes and running down my face, and a crowd all around me. I expressed the crying because of joy and gratitude that for the first time in a long time I felt safe and free from my anxiety and PTSD and told about the lavender field.

There are so many more memories I can share about this journey I can go on and on, there’s so much more I have learned about myself and added many many tools to the Tool box to help live a better Quality of life with my PTSD. And I realized that day my new family has and this Ride has changed my life. I am now willing to do more work, and I have goals, next year the Full pull. Jumping out of planes and running the island. And maybe even the run for the wall. So now I have a few retreats and programs set up in future to further help with my anxiety and traumas surrounding my PTSD. So, until 2024 when I see you all again because I will be doing the full pull again, until then I just want to say thank you to Scott and Leslie and all the crew and fellow full pullers and everybody else that was a part of my journey on the TRB 2023. Love and mad respect to all.

Stay Toasty 

Yance Sheehan

Full Pull Alumni , The Rolling Barrage