I am a high school teacher, football coach and hopeful mental health activist. I’ve been doing professional development with People Empowering People (PEPy) through my school division. The hope is to improve mental health supports in our schools.
WHAT WAS THE MAJOR TURNING POINT IN YOUR RECOVERY FROM DEPRESSION?
I had been struggling with my mental health for about 8 years. Anxiety, sleepless nights which developed into depression. I let it go for that long because I didn’t want anyone to know I was struggling. Big mistake. The longer I let it go, the worse it got. It all came to a head on March 7, 2018, when I broke down in my assistant principal’s office. I finally let my guard down and came clean about my anxiety and depression. I’m so glad I did. That was the first step to recovery.
WHAT ARE SOME THINGS THAT REALLY HELPED?
- Finally telling someone about my mental illness was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. It felt so good not to hide it anymore. It didn’t happen all at once, though. Over the years, I’ve slowly let people know about my mental health and also about my recovery.
- Even before my breakdown, I was going to talk to a counsellor. We made a little bit of progress but it was after my breakdown that the work really got done. He got me to see that I needed to put myself first. I couldn’t be the husband, father, teacher or coach I really wanted to be until I could get myself better.
- The counselling was great, but there was still a darkness around me. The last piece of the puzzle was meds. I was reluctant to be on medication. I was worried about the stigma but after a month of taking them, the old Dave was back! I had the capacity to feel joy and I was a much better husband, father, teacher and coach.
- I have always been an active guy but when I was at my worst, I had no energy to workout. All I could do was have enough energy to get up, go to work and come home and lie down and try not to think about the next day. I started doing CrossFit about 6 years ago as a way to get back to exercise. Still doing it to this day.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER GUYS FIGHTING DEPRESSION?
Reach out and ask for help!
- I know it’s tough for guys to admit that they are struggling but the more we do it, the more normalized it will get. We aren’t bulletproof. Never in a million years did I think I would ever have depression. The more we reach out the less stigma there will be surrounding mental health.
Recognize that fighting depression takes work
- It won’t just magically disappear. You have to invest in yourself. Learn to fight the good fight. Exercise, journal, meditate. Whatever it takes because the world will always be better with you in it.
– Dave, Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada