A local man is trying to help others by sharing his own experiences with trauma.
Shane Mutlow grew up in Fort Saskatchewan and graduated from John Paul II in 1987. He joined the military in 1990 and was eventually sent over to Rwanda for six months.
As a driver and security for one of the warrant officers, Mutlow drove across the countryside and saw a lot of the aftermath of the genocide.
"I came back, and I was a whole different person, just a shell basically. I was just existing; I wasn't living," he described. "I don't want people to ever get the impression that it's never going to end; I'm going to be stuck like this for the rest of my life because that's not the situation."
It took many years for Mutlow to be able to work through his own trauma. Eventually, he decided to write a novel to share his experiences and hopefully help others also suffering.
The book is called One Foot Over the Edge: A Canadian Soldier's Personal Account of The Rwandan Genocide. In it, Mutlow talks about his upbringing, getting posted overseas, his experiences, and the trauma he faced after returning.
"When I first was ready to launch the book, there was this great anxiety," he explained. "All I have received is nothing but support and thanks. It's just been incredible."
Since the book launched in August, Mutlow has spent a lot of his time answering messages from soldiers and parents of soldiers who were touched by his story and were gained a better understanding of the mental health impacts of war.
Mutlow added, however, that the book is meant to help anyone struggling with mental illness, not just those in the military, and encourages people to message him if they need to talk.
"People need to see that it's not something that's made up or anything like that. You see somebody with a broken leg, they have a broken leg. You can see it. But with mental health, you don't see that injury because it's internal, and people need to realize it's okay; it's still an injury. You need to address it, and you'll be okay."
He even teamed up with Canadian actress and screenwriter Caitlin Wells to create a screenplay based on the book. The script won Best Unproduced Script and the Toronto International Women's Film Festival over the summer and is a finalist in Lonely Seal Film Festival.
They have started taking steps to make the project a reality, but COVID has slowed the process.
People that want to purchase the book can find more information here. Portions of each sale of this book will be donated to Fortitude Farms, a facility that provides equine therapy for those with mental illness.