Cover image of long exposure of man with sparkler

"Opening up is what started my road back to full health."

About T.:

I’m a 21-year-old student. I have a great passion for helping people, sports, music, and the outdoors. I have previous experience working in professional sports as a Media Relations Intern.

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

For me, the true turning point came after I had my first ‘serious’ anxiety attack. Going through the process of getting better with the help and guidance of professionals revealed something I hadn’t even realized myself. 

During a long appointment with my doctor, we discovered that I had lost an unhealthy amount of weight in a very short period of time. I’m a pretty slim dude to begin with so this really changed things for me; I really couldn’t believe my eyes. During the period of time where I lost this weight, I completely lost my appetite and all motivation to live a healthy lifestyle; I didn’t even notice the loss of weight myself because I never cared enough to check.

I really did not take mental health seriously until this discovery. After this, I really put the pieces together; mental health is serious business, and it does directly correlate with the health of your body. If your mind isn’t right, your body definitely won’t be either.

What are some things that really helped?

Talking and Honesty

  • For me, opening up is what started my road back to full health. I wasn’t able to deal with anything that needed to be dealt with because I was lying to myself and the people around me. Once I finally started ‘being real’, I realized that everybody in my life simply wants to help! I truly believed I was the only person going through what I went through, only to find out that was not the case at all.

Playing Sports

  • I love watching and playing sports, and once I started to suffer mentally; I seriously lost all interest. When talking about resources to get better; picking up a basketball or a football again was the best resource I could ever ask for!

Saying ‘no’

  • Being able to say “no” to people was a huge task for me. I had tried to make everybody else around me happy for so long, agreeing to anything that seemed to make them happy. Once I realized that it’s OK to say no to certain things and give myself a break, that lifted such a huge burden off my shoulders and I stopped feeling so overloaded all the time.

Accepting life as it unfolds;

  • Lastly, allowing life to unfold naturally was sort of the final piece for me. I’m a perfectionist who often tries to solve several problems at once. Stepping back and realizing that I don’t control everything in my life allowed myself to live free. 

What advice would you give to other guys fighting depression?

  • You are not the problem. Depression isn’t who you are; but it can and will hijack your identity and sense of self!
  • Don’t avoid getting help; pushing away your problems will only make things worse in the long run. Getting help is not a sign of weakness; it’s actually a sign of great maturity and responsibility. It’s your life; you have to take control and take care of yourself.
  • Remember – you’re not crazy, bro. Everybody has their own problems; anxiety and depression are very common experiences for men. Acknowledging this fact is a big step on the road back to full health and wellness.

-T., Sports Management Student (a stock photograph was used for this post).