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"You are not alone in this, and people – when asked – do want to help."

About Brian:

I am a Certified Addiction Recovery Coach and a Certified Recovery Peer Advocate at Mountainside treatment center. My goal is to help people discover their pathway to a more fulfilling life and end the stigma of mental illness and addiction.

Brian’s Story

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

In November of 2010, I was in a dark place in my life and thought that my wife and three daughters were better off without me. I had mounting legal issues, my career was in ruins, and in my mind, there was no place to turn. Suicide felt like my only option. In what I can only explain as a moment of clarity, I checked myself into the psychiatric ward of a local hospital, and for the first time, honestly asked for help.

WHAT ARE SOME THINGS THAT REALLY HELPED?

Medication

  • I had to realize that I suffered from an illness (depression), and as with physical illnesses, there are medications to address the symptoms and causes of mental illnesses as well. There is no shame in taking medicine to address the issues of an illness.

Therapy

  • I grew up in a very traditional Irish Catholic family, the son of immigrants. From a very young age, I was taught that I had to handle my emotions and they weren’t things to be discussed. Therapy taught me how to talk about my emotions and let go of a lot of baggage that I had been hanging on to for many years. Therapy also provided me with an educational piece as well, teaching me the pathology of my illness.

Abstinence from Alcohol

  • Since I was in high school, I used alcohol (mostly unsuccessfully) to manage my depression, which only led me down a darker path. Freeing myself from the grips of alcohol liberated me to discover a fuller and more complete life.

Exercise/Physical Activity

  • I needed to find healthy alternatives to deal with stress. Exercise provided a great outlet for me to do so. It enabled me to blow off steam in real time and in a positive manner, which left me feeling good physically and mentally.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER GUYS FIGHTING DEPRESSION?

As guys, we are often taught that we need to manage our “stuff” and we need to be self-sufficient, but the most important lesson that I have learned is that sometimes, the strongest thing a person can do is ask for support. Life on the best terms can be challenging, but it is much more difficult to try to manage it alone. You are not alone in this, and people – when asked – do want to help. They can’t help if they don’t know you are struggling.

Brian McManus, Certified Addiction Recovery Coach and Certified Recovery Peer Advocate, Fairfield County, Connecticut.