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Starting a Dialogue

Guest Author: Adam

This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.

When I found out that I can contribute my story for SNW, I debated how I should approach it, what to write and what to focus on. My day-to-day work involves preparing formal documents that typically have a format to follow; but I usually never get asked to prepare a written account of my experiences.  After a lengthy internal struggle, I decided I would just approach it the same way I usually approach things- by winging it.

So here goes:

The name is Adam (or Lord Sanzo as I am sometimes known: I purchased 1 sq. ft. of conservation land in Scotland and apparently you can adopt the title of Lord FYI).  I’m a 31 y/o, 6 ft., 250-ish lbs. guy (meaning that if I were to fight in MMA I’d definitely fall in the Heavyweight category).  I’ve suffered with depression my whole life, but have only actively pursued different treatments for the past few years: medication, Psychotherapy, Mindfulness, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, etc.  Some have worked better than others and I intend to continue to explore different treatments as they become available to me.

The delay to seek treatment was due to a few factors- my unwillingness to seek help, denial (likely as a result of my European cultural background who believe that depression is not technically a medical condition), and fear of becoming addicted to medication or being reliant on other treatments for the rest of my life.

I approach this article from a male perspective for two reasons: 1) because I’m obviously a male and have experienced depression from a male POV and 2) because I wish for women who read this to hear things from a male perspective, which I feel is rarely openly expressed.

I’m almost positive that those around me never suspected that I was battling depression

I’m almost positive that those around me never suspected that I was battling depression (and many still don’t).  This is due to the fact that I was (and still am) a big, tall fellow.  I am the definitive class clown-the one who can joke about any situation at any time-whether it’s called for or not.  My sense of humour is clearly my best quality (followed closely by my shiny ginger locks and beard).  On top of these endearing qualities, my life up to this point has been pretty good-raised in a middle class family, never denied anything, able to obtain a university degree, and now in a good and stable career making a healthy living.  People are quick to ask “what do you have to be depressed about?”  But, as anyone with depression can confirm, it doesn’t really work that way.  Depression doesn’t care that I am educated, have a significant collection of watches and Simpsons memorabilia (which is pretty awesome if you ask me), or own my own home.

Guys in general have always been depicted as the tough ones- immune to emotion and incapable of showing weakness. I’m glad that over the past few years, this stigma is beginning to diminish, and the true reality is starting to come forward.  I have been able to put myself out there and openly discuss my illness, even though some people in my immediate circle still refuse to accept it.  I’m not sure why, but I think it’s because they are either scared to accept that someone they care about is battling an illness, or that they are selfish and do not want to upset themselves or take any time out of their busy lives to confront it.

I don’t intend to stop reaching out, and even though it continues to upset me that certain people still do not support those with mental illnesses, I will push forward and try to change the outlook and do everything in my power to reduce the stigma.  I don’t care that some people may still think of me as weak, even after it’s posted on the “Sick Not Weak” website, or may lose some respect for me.  As a wise man once said, “I Y’am what I Y’am!” (this man was Popeye).

Someone recently asked me “how can people help/support those who are battling depression or other mental illnesses?”  I’m not sure I have an exact response to that, but I would say at the very least you can research the illness, ask questions, try to understand what they are going through, how it affects their lives, what symptoms to look out for, and just be there when they appear to be going through a rough time.  Just remember, I’m not a doctor-I only play one on TV.

There are a lot of guys who share this with me

I’m not sure what my “calling” is in life (if I believe in such a thing), but I know that the moment I began to accept, treat and openly discuss my mental health struggles, I felt something I’ve never felt before.  I think that I need to continue to be a voice for reducing the stigma-especially since there are very few big, physically/emotionally strong, confident guys who will accept this role.  My story is not unique -there are a lot of guys who share this with me- and I hope that at the very least this story will show everyone that mental illness is more common than you think. Your brother, boyfriend, husband, father, friend or colleague can be suffering without it being their fault.

That’s all I got for now.  Stay strong!

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