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Knowing I wasn’t alone was my first active step towards ‘progress’.

About Jay:

I was born and raised in Vancouver and currently work as a professional digital animator where I help create cartoon shows. On the side I write poetry to wrap my head around topics that might have contributed to my depression.

Jay’s Story

Jay-profile

What was the major turning point in your recovery from depression?

While I was at University I was in charge of a project that oversaw how patients at Vancouver Children’s Hospital were transitioning into adult care – but I felt like too much of a hypocrite to not be taking care of myself when I was supposed to be helping others.  From there I had intimate conversations with people I trusted who, surprisingly, told me about their own experiences with depression as well. Knowing I wasn’t alone was my first active step towards ‘progress’.

What are some things that really helped?

Therapy

  • I was in group therapy for a few months, and it gave me a plethora of tools that I could use in different situations in my life.  Applying them was difficult, as it was usually about situations involving factors out of our control – but we soon were taught that it was about framing situations in a way that showed us the things that were within our control.

Talking to others

  • Intimate conversations with people close to me were important to have.  All my life I would think about how those people wouldn’t understand what I was going through, yet to my surprise some responded with their own version of, “yeah, me too.”

Poetry

  • Sometimes when I write poetry, it’s during a moment where I can’t put my finger towards explaining what is happening with me and why I might be behaving a certain way. If I just give myself free reign over what I write and keep it private, I can occasionally come to a revelation of sorts which points me towards the direction of what might be bothering me.

Moving beyond the past

  • I was often afraid of forgetting my past or afraid I wouldn’t learn from it. Thus I gave myself ample space to go over my past endlessly in depression, which was satisfying, but was a depressive habit I needed to change into more of embracing the present moment.

Mindfulness

  • I learned a lot about embracing the present moment through mindful meditation. It is one of the many tools I picked up through therapy, and is available through many different organizations.

What advice would you give to other guys fighting depression?

I’ve had to let go of what I used to see as traditionally ‘manly’, like avoiding being vulnerable around others or trying to act like nothing ever hurts. It is part of a societal construct I’ve so far found to be a huge contributor to my depression and nothing but joy has come of letting go of these types of behaviours.  There’s a lot to be said about how men and women are traditionally seen in society, and there’s a plethora of dialogue and studies out there trying to take on these perceptions for the sake of our wellbeing.  If it matches your interests, I’d recommend seeking these things out.

– Jay, animator based out of Vancouver, B.C Canada. Hear more from Jay in his story video (from this past June’s Men’s Health Week campaign).