Double exposure image of a man

"Don't force feelings down when they do come. You're a man, not a robot."

About Bryan:

A photo of a man with a backwards black cap and a large mustache, wearing a coca-cola t-shirtMy name is Bryan. I’m a 40-year-old millwright with ADHD. I’m currently working with my company’s HSE corporate lead as my mentor and I work as an event planner with the Vancouver Facial Hair Club.

WHAT WAS THE MAJOR TURNING POINT IN YOUR RECOVERY FROM DEPRESSION?

I was diagnosed with ADHD as a child back in the 90s.

I split up with the girlfriend I was living with in July of 2020. As we all remember, this was a dark time. I moved into a 2 bedroom apartment by myself, with no job. I couldn’t find work, I wasn’t seeing my kids very much due to money, and I was lonely.

In December of 2020, I moved to Vancouver for work. I didn’t last very long at this job. ADHD sometimes makes us super impulsive. These impulses have often caused difficulties in my life. I was able to get another job immediately, and didn’t even lose any days worth of pay.

The new job was stressful. It was a chaotic environment with little pre-planning, poor tooling, and very little direction from management. In addition, the expectations were so low, that I wasn’t feeling any satisfaction at the end of my day. I would go home and sit on the couch and perseverate (repeatedly getting stuck on something) about how much I hated it and how terrible it was.

Though I had tried counselling before and found it helpful to a certain degree, the real moment of change was when I tried hallucinogens for the first time.*  Though not for everyone and something that people should take caution with, microdoses, for me, were something that immediately lifted the boat anchor that stopped me from moving forward. I’d had suicidal ideations, but never went any further than that. After my first anxiety treatment, I felt an entire world’s worth of weight lifted off my shoulders.

Two weeks later, I felt much more clearheaded and wanted to take more charge of my recovery. I called my doctor and asked to start on a new ADHD medication that I hadn’t tried yet. I found that I could think, I could focus on a thought for more than 10 seconds without getting lost or confused. It was as if I was a five-year-old learning how to exist in the world all over again.

WHAT ARE SOME THINGS THAT REALLY HELPED?

Being kinder to yourself

  • So often as an ADHD kid, I was told to try harder or do more. This absolutely wasn’t something I was capable of doing. I often felt I was working twice as hard just to get half as far.

Learning

  • Learning more about ADHD and what’s going on inside my brain has always been something I was actually able to focus on. The more I read and learned, the more I realized I wasn’t alone.

Trying new things

  • This was one of the hardest things to do. I had a chance to see the band Black Label Society , but no one was able to go with me. So I went by myself. I was super nervous and had started to feel anxious about it. But the minute I got into line, the people behind me struck up a conversation and I ended up watching most of the show with them!

Reaching out

  • Call your friends (or message them) and ask if they want to hang out. I always felt like I was bothering people or maybe I’d messaged them too many times. A “no” doesn’t have to have anything to do with you, sometimes folks are busy.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER GUYS FIGHTING DEPRESSION?

  • The very first thing I want to tell you is that you’re not alone. There are thousands, THOUSANDS of us. I see you trying your hardest. Some days will be easier than others, but don’t give up. That being said, be realistic of your expectations of recovery. You should absolutely expect to have backward slide days.
  • Second is this…. you don’t have to go out of your way to make it easier for others to be around you. For example, sometimes l used to say things like, “just so you know, I talk too much,” but I don’t need to make excuses for or explain who I am, or worry so much about how others are perceiving me. It’s better to ask someone, “am I talking too much?” and see what they think rather than assume and try to prepare someone for a negative response.
  • Don’t force feelings down when they do come. When you get that welling-up feeling right behind your eyes, don’t try to make it go away. You’re a man, not a robot. It’s okay to be emotional, it feels great.
  • In the end, sometimes you have to walk away from things. From people, jobs, activities, friendships. That’s okay too. You are absolutely allowed to feel the way you do. Don’t let anyone tell you that you just need to get over it. Never make this decision quickly. Once you’ve decided to walk away from something, sit on it for a few days and try not to think about it. If it feels like people around you give up because you’re too hard to be around, those aren’t your people (I was recently reminded of what a kind, caring human looks like).
  • Finally, you need to take a bit of time to be selfish and take care of yourself. You’re spending ALL your energy making sure that no one in your circle ever has to feel the way you do. That’s such a wonderful gesture, but it takes a massive toll. Have a self-care day. Get a washcloth really hot and give your face a gentle scrub before you shave. Shave your head, change your beard. Make lunch for the whole work week.

– Bryan, East Vancouver, BC, Canada

* Note that the use of psychedelics for mental health is an ongoing area of research. Given the limits to current research, it is best to proceed with caution and discuss options with a mental health professional and learn more about the legality of these substances in your area. Related info: Psilocybin as a Treatment for Depression.

Free Self Guided Courses for Men: New Feature

We're excited to launch our free self-guided courses: Managing Anger and Irritability, Rewiring Negative Thoughts, and Mindfulness for Men.

View Courses