Double exposure image of a man

"I know that going to the gym is great for my body, but the real reason I go is that I know how critical it is for my mental health."

About Dustin:

My name is Dustin and I am a Men’s Mental Wellness Counsellor. As someone who has dealt with crippling anxiety and depression throughout most of my life, I know what it is like to struggle with inner demons, a lack of belief in myself, and feeling like a failure.

At first, sharing these painful struggles made me feel weak. But as I learned to authentically express myself and share what was happening on the inside, I felt heard. I felt liberated. I felt free.

Now it’s my mission as a Men’s Mental Wellness Counsellor to help other men make the same breakthroughs and mindset shifts that have saved my life. My focus is supporting men through challenges with anxiety, depression, communication issues, relationship struggles, self-esteem, confidence, goal-setting, and more.

Dustin’s Story

Photo of DustinWHAT WAS THE MAJOR TURNING POINT IN YOUR RECOVERY FROM DEPRESSION?

My turning point actually came when I hit rock bottom. It was 2018 and I was away on a work trip. Around this time, my struggles with anxiety and depression were so bad that it felt like sadness was rushing through my veins and my emotional state reached such a low point that my entire body was in physical pain.

I remember starring at myself in the mirror in the bathroom at the hotel, tears pouring down my face, vibrating with anxiety, surrounded in a dark cloud of depression, suicidal thoughts hijacking my mind, and I thought to myself, “How the hell am I going to make it through the next 50 years of my life like this? This is pure torture.”

As terrified as I was in this moment, it was at that low point that I knew I needed to fight for my life. As painful as this part of my journey was, a small part of me knew that I needed to overcome this pain so I could help others facing similar circumstances.

From that moment it took me almost a year to finally find the courage to share my darkness with full openness and transparency with someone I trusted. I was lucky enough to cross paths with a therapist who was open, supportive, and provided the environment for me to share my darkness in full detail. He created the space for me to release myself from the grip of holding these intense and disturbing thoughts inside. Sharing my struggle with full openness and vulnerability was incredibly scary and so freeing at the same time.

From that day up until now, I have been learning to LOVE all parts of me and to be grateful for ALL parts of me as well – this includes the light and the dark.

WHAT ARE SOME THINGS THAT REALLY HELPED?

Seeing Vulnerability as A Strength, Not a Weakness

  • Once I realized that being vulnerable and open about my struggles was a strength, not a weakness, things shifted dramatically!
  • Leaning into vulnerability meant I no longer had to hide behind the mask of pretending like everything was ok – because it’s ok to not be ok.

Reaching out to Friends and Family

  • For the longest time, I saw asking for help from friends and family with my mental health struggles as a sign of weakness. But reaching out and asking for help was one of the smartest decisions I have ever made.

Seeking Counselling/Therapy

  • There is incredible power in working with a therapist that you feel supported by and is trained in dealing with whatever challenges you face.
  • Often just sharing what is going on inside of you is an important in improving your mental and emotional health.

Exercising

  • I know that going to the gym is great for my body, but the real reason I go is that I know how critical it is for my mental health.
  • Whenever I work out I not only feel stronger, but my mood is also lifted, my confidence is strengthened, and I feel a sense of accomplishment that positively impacts every aspect of my day.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER GUYS FIGHTING DEPRESSION?

As cliché as I know it sounds, never give up on yourself man. I know what it is like to struggle and to feel like there is no way out. Even when you feel like you are at rock bottom and like you will never get out of the darkness, there is always a way out – even when it doesn’t feel like it.

Lean on any supportive resource you can. Friends, family, colleagues, therapists, your doctor, online resources like HeadsUpGuys, a crisis line, a peer support community like the tethr app, medication if needed, the list goes on. It’s not always easy asking for help, but just keep at it, better days are ahead.

Dustin Hogan, Men’s Mental Wellness Counsellor, New Westminster, BC, Canada insta