"Vulnerability is strength. It takes guts to say 'today is not a good day'."

About Jake Stika:

Jake Stika is the Cofounder & Executive Director of Next Gen Men, a Canadian nonprofit organization engaging, educating, and empowering men and boys around gender in schools, communities, and workplaces. As gender is a social determinant of health, boys and men are facing acute stresses on their mental health and wellbeing due to gender norms – including lack of health-seeking behaviours, culminating in 3 out of 4 suicides being men.

Jake’s Story

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

I had a falling out with my family and my girlfriend, at the time, couldn’t cope with the wreck I was. I spent a few months by myself, working a manual labour job for 12-14 hours per day, coming home to eat, and going to the gym for another hour or two – all so that I could avoid having to face myself and my feelings. Sure, I lost 30 lbs in one summer and looked great, but I was far from healthy. I spent many nights crying myself to sleep. I felt so much shame, but the generator of that shame was all my own.

WHAT ARE SOME THINGS THAT REALLY HELPED?

  • Counselling – I started seeing a counsellor. I was so so lucky that the first one I met clicked with me (or I was that desperate for support). It is important to find someone that jives with you as not every counsellor is for every client.
  • Friends – I learned that I was putting the majority of the burden of emotional labour on my girlfriend which was unfair to her and ultimately contributed to the demise of our relationship. Today, I have several close guy friends that all “know my shit” which means that if I’m going through something I can turn to them and say “hey you know that thing?” and they can help me carry it. Of course I’m there to help carry theirs too. Too many men lean wholly on their significant other for all their emotional labour and support – spread it around!
  • Exercise – As I wrote in my story above, it was not healthy, but exercise probably helped keep me from doing worse things like drugs or alcohol. Having a routine and goals while making progress in other arenas can be really helpful.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER GUYS FIGHTING DEPRESSION?

You are not unique. This is not a you problem. We all go through this at some point or other. If you tell 5 friends, 2-3 of them will tell you they went through it too. Bare it all, you’ll feel much lighter. Vulnerability is strength. It takes guts to say “today is not a good day”.

– Jake Stika is the Cofounder & Executive Director of Next Gen Men, based out of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. facebook twitter insta 


Check out the other four stories, released in Oct. 2018:

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