three questions. one of you.
Periodically, I will be asking a friend three questions about his or her experience with mental illness. This person might be a guy who deals with mental illness or someone (like my wife) who is a supporter. Over time, the 31U series will show how men of all sorts, with all backgrounds, and of all personalities can be inflicted in a variety of ways and how loved ones can better understand and support them. The hope is that this series will serve as a reminder for those in darkness that we are not alone in this fight, and that it will be a helpful resource for supporters.
Frank works in nonprofit leadership and enjoys singing, poetry, hanging out with his dog, movies, and meeting new people. Though, on the outside, he is always the life of the party, three years ago, Frank started acknowledging his battle with depression and suicidal thoughts. I am very grateful for Franks contribution to the 31U series.
What have been the most valuable tools, resources, or strategies that have helped you in overcoming?
Consistently going to counseling was key. I had a short temper, mood swings; I would be upset by what I knew were small things, and I had so much anxiety that I was unable to cope. To be able to work through these issues with someone who was not directly involved in my day-to-day was huge. Counseling started the process of my being able to finally accept myself and where I was at in life.
I also found that taking moments to be silent and focus on breathing helped too. Being able to stop and calm myself was all that got me through some situations.
What gives you hope in the now and for the future?
What has given me the most hope is two things: 1. I have accepted who I am and know that I am worthy of love. 2. People will say, do, and think whatever they want and there is not much I can do about it. I have to remember I can live my life and make a difference in the world one moment at a time no matter what others say or do.
What advice would you give other men with mental illness?
My advice to men dealing with mental illness is this: talk about it. Silence is one of the biggest killers when it comes to mental health. Talking with someone helps us release the trappings of our minds. Having a conversation with a trustworthy person helps us know that we are not alone. Stop thinking of yourself as a man but rather as a human. Forget the deeply rooted societal rules that are intended for men/gender roles. Instead look at yourself as a human dealing with life and think of yourself in terms of your personality and character traits. Embrace who you are. You are unique and have a lot to offer and to try to conform to someone else’s views for yourself only leads to large disappointment in yourself. You have purpose and you matter. Knowing all of this for yourself is a journey and takes time. Be patient with your progress and celebrate your victories no matter how small they may seem. Sometimes putting on your pants and facing the day is a huge accomplishment and you should be proud of just that.
“My brokenness is a better bridge for people than my pretend wholeness ever was.” –Sheila Walsh