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"Don’t buy into the lie that to struggle with mental health means you are any less of a person or a man."

About Kevin Breel:

I am a writer, comedian and activist for mental health. Find out more about Kevin at kevinbreel.com.

Kevin’s Story

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

Well, for me personally, the ‘turning point’ came from a pretty dark and low moment.  I wrote a suicide note on Feb 26, 2011 as a teenage kid.  I was pretty scared and felt alone and- in a lot of ways- ashamed of what I was experiencing.  

I had been struggling with depression for a few years on and off and I didn’t know how to talk about it.  And then that night, when I sort of hit this rock bottom and was suicidal, I realized I needed to stop trying to run away from this conversation and just have it.  And so the next day, I finally forced myself to talk about what was going on.  And that led me down a path to get help and to confront a lot of my issues, and to really start to come from a place of non-judgment and accept what was going on.  

For me, that was an enormous shift in perspective.

What are some things that really helped?

Being honest

  • For me, it kind of all starts with honesty. If you can get to a place inside yourself where you can be really honest about what you are feeling, and what’s going on, and just talk about that with someone, that’s huge.  
  • I find it’s when you try to try to put walls up around yourself that things can start to spiral down.  

Counselling

  • It’s sort of the highest form of an unbiased, honest, challenging conversation and I really need that sometimes.

Being active

  • Exercise is a great way to use or transfer the energy in our bodies and shed a lot of the obsessive thinking that can be really easy to fall in to.

Meditating

  • It’s the only thing I’ve ever found that can dramatically shift your entire head space, and all it requires is that you sit down and be quiet for a bit.  So I’m a big fan of that and it’s done wonders for my life.

What advice would you give to other guys fighting depression?

I would try to take a step back and realize:  masculinity and mental health have been created in the media to be total opposites.  The archetype of a “man” is to be outwardly strong, confident and completely immune to emotions in a lot of ways.  But that’s just ridiculous.  And that’s a hard thing to realize.  

I felt so much shame being a young man struggling with depression.  I was so afraid of how people might label or judge me.  And then when I just shed those limiting beliefs and that sort of toxic view of masculinity, I realized that it’s just a part of the human experience.  So my only advice would be don’t buy into the lie that to struggle with mental health means you are any less of a person or a man.

My idea of strength has a lot more to do with self acceptance and honesty than it does posturing to pretend that nothing can hurt you.  We are all just trying to figure this thing out and we should talk about that.

Kevin Breel, writer, comedian and activist for mental health based out of Victoria, BC/Toronto, Ontario, Canadafacebookinsta twitter