Mar 30, 2017
This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.
I started showing signs of depression when I was in my teens.
My father taught us that men don’t feel sad, that we don’t cry, and that we definitely don’t curl up in a ball and not go to work. My father was born overseas, and he was as old school as they come.
The cycle continued on until I hit rock bottom.
By ignoring my mental health, I moved on from depression, to self-harming. I played sports and took out my aggression there. I graduated, moved away from home, and took on employment, sometimes working two or three jobs at a time. I worked all kinds of jobs; the military, long haul truck driving, heavy manual labour, and now office work for the past 14 years. Sometimes, when my depression grew and I was unable to drag myself out of bed, I would lose some of these jobs. The cycle continued on until I hit rock bottom.
When I was 28 I had a very negative incident with my ex-girlfriend. We had a child together and she had two children from a previous relationship. The relationship was horrible, and abusive. I called my mother crying often as I felt trapped, like there was no escape, as if I was being overrun by my emotions, but felt I shouldn’t have these emotions because men worked through it. Men work and stay with their family and provide.
I was off work with a back injury, and my depression continued to deepen. We ended up having an argument while the kids were at my mother’s. Yelling turned to screaming, then screaming turned to pushing, first her pushing me, then me pushing her. The situation was out of control. She called my mother, I hung up and called the police. I ended up getting charged with assault. I plead guilty, even though what my ex accused me of, did not happen as she said it did. Zero tolerance. I spent countless hours in therapy, and went through anger management. Finally, I was diagnosed with depression and started receiving treatment and medication for that. Don’t get me wrong….depression didn’t do this, I did this.
Life continued on. I moved in with my mom and step-dad in order to get my life in order. I continued to better myself by continuing counselling, going through a men’s group in order to better understand the role I played. I continued to work towards more access to my son. Within 2 ½ years, I was awarded custody of my son, the courts and CFS finally seeing the situation I had been a part of, and the improvements I had made to my life. Things were finally starting to look up.
Don’t get me wrong… depression didn’t do this, I did this.
In 2014 my child started withdrawing, and showing signs of being depressed, and anxious. I saw the symptoms of a mental health issue, and spoke openly with him about my mental health. He started seeing a counsellor immediately. The counselling started working well for him, and he started being treated for depression. Later, he came out as Transgender. During that time, his birth mother was arrested for illegally entering our home. This sent him spiraling down a bad path. He stopped talking to his mother as a result of this, and the fact she did not acknowledge he was Transgender.
In 2016, I decided to run in the provincial election. I had spent 3 years working towards this, volunteering in the civic and federal election, sitting on the board of directors for my party, and sitting on management for my party. I was very open about the fact that I suffered from depression and had received extensive treatment for it. I was also very transparent about the charge I had received. My goal was to run, win, and become a voice for all the constituents in my riding as well as an advocate for people with mental health issues.
I was green-lit by the party (accepted as a candidate). Towards election day, I received a call from someone in the media. Someone from another political party had brought my prior conviction to their attention. I called my party and talked to them about this and was given the green light to talk about it as I had been open to the party about it and we were aware that there was the potential for this to come out. I went and was interviewed by the media, speaking quite openly about my mental health, my past relationship and “the incident.”
The story ran as I had explained it to the media. The next day, my phone began ringing off the hook. My ex had sent an email to the media, to all 3 political parties, and posted publicly on Facebook what she perceived to be the true story. I was devastated. My heart hit the floor. The email was filled with lies, false accusations, and a few bits of truth. Anyone that had known me for 5 minutes would have known this.
I tell my sons that it is okay for men to feel like this.
I told them there was not a shred of truth to it and felt that I needed to protect my family from it, but was told I had to resign. I tendered my resignation, then was part of a three-day media blitz where my situation was shared across Canada. I cannot begin to express the feeling of loss I felt. I took two weeks off work. I hid in bed, didn’t answer my phone, barely ate, and cried … a lot. I went back to work, and faced the looks, the whispers, the pointing … the humiliation. I went to a counsellor again, and decided a change of employment was what I needed.
I’m 42 now. I have my good days and bad. I share how I am feeling with my wife and my children. I allow myself to be sad, to cry and to curl up into a ball. I tell my sons that it is okay for men to feel like this, and what to do if it ever happens to them. I know there will be more bad days, but I have the tools to help me cope, and the support to get me through.