Double exposure image of a man

"With the encouragement of friends, I made the leap to seek assistance."

About Leandro:

I am a Brazilian fitness instructor and wellness coach living in Connecticut and working at Mountainside Alcohol and Drug Addiction Treatment Center. There, I encourage people coping with substance use and mental health disorders to embrace a more fulfilling life in recovery through fitness classes as well as art and music therapy sessions.

Leandro’s Story

Portrait of LeandroWHAT WAS THE MAJOR TURNING POINT IN YOUR RECOVERY FROM DEPRESSION?

It took me a long time to realize I had depression, because as a dancer and fitness trainer, I was always active, and these activities worked as natural anti-depressants. It was not until I had back surgery and knew I would be bedridden for nine months that I began to self-isolate.

I started throwing meth into the mix, to the point where I began struggling with addiction. I was stuck in a negative mindset after the surgery and began using meth to cope, but it was not helping my mental state. It only made the pain worse and made recognizing my struggle with depression more difficult.

With the encouragement of friends, I made the leap to seek assistance. After going to treatment, I was able to turn to wellness activities to bring me back to myself. I got better through a combination of spirituality practices, connecting with others, practicing mindfulness through arts and crafts, reintroducing movement into my life, and being in nature.

WHAT ARE SOME THINGS THAT REALLY HELPED?

Therapy

  • Having a professional to talk to, besides friends, really helps me to sort through my thoughts, without worrying that I may be bothering someone. Both depression and meth use disorder have a stigma attached to them, so sharing my experiences with a professional provided me with the added support and tools I needed to make positive changes in recovery.

Painting

  • It helps me to stop thinking about the past and the future because the process brings me to the present moment, giving me a chance to reset.

My dog, Myles

  • Having responsibility for another living being is so helpful, motivating me to get up in the morning and take a walk outside every day.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER GUYS FIGHTING DEPRESSION?

In the beginning, we should take it easy on ourselves because we are quick to get stuck in shame. Try reaching out for help, going for a walk, and appreciating the small things at first to feel better. Depression and isolation go hand in hand, so making a quick call to a friend to check in and setting goals to connect with other people creates accountability, helping us to stick to our plans.

Leandro Carvalho, Fitness and Wellness Expert, Canaan, Connecticut, United States  insta