“Oh, baby, I can’t get nakeder!” I told my wife as things heated up in the bedroom. She, in all her beauty, laying on the mattress, glistening and exposed, replied, “Babe…we need to get the AC fixed.”
Our air conditioner had been broken for the hottest week of the summer, and we employed our only two fans in Isaiah’s room to avoid cooking the baby. Busyness and the fear of dumping the bank into a big project had me put it off for too long. It was finally time to get it fixed. But, for my wife, the time was months ago.
A pivotal difference between Lindsey and I is our point of action. I’m typically reactionary, waiting until I’m sworn in as president of the American Association Of Nude Recreation to even begin thinking about getting the AC fixed. My wife on the other hand is proactive. She would have called in a repairman months ago, and maybe even scheduled a yearly physical just to hear the unit cough.
Be Proactive, Not Reactive
When it comes to depression and anxiety (as well as other issues), many are more reactive than they are proactive, especially men. We tend to put off taking vital steps towards health, thinking we need to be strong and independent, while the sickness roots itself deeper into our minds and establishes bad mental habits, unhealthy coping mechanisms, and a growing barrier between us and the outside world. More often than not, for men, it takes a breakdown to wake us up. The neglected illness might rear its head through an emotional instability, complete isolation, outbursts of anger or constant irritation, or in the worst case scenario, suicide.
As a cloud of darkness still hangs above my head, I know there is no cure for depression, but there are practical steps we can take to more easily thrive in a heavy world. Counseling, medical care, rearranging work schedule, establishing routine and boundaries–all of these and more can be proactive steps toward a healthier you. Take the reins back from the clutches of anxiety and depression. It won’t be easy or fun, but it will be worth it in the end when you are able to retrain your brain, reestablish valuable relationships, and develop healthy coping mechanisms. Be proactive against mental illness, not reactive.
What are the things that keep you from being proactive? There has been one thing that has stood in my way while seeking appropriate help with my mental health, physical health, and even my air conditioner. That thing is me, and the three legs I stand upon: pride, fear, and laziness. I think most men can relate to all three, so here are some healthier alternatives to help you with proactivity:
Pride vs Preservation
Pride is a poison, and ego keeps men from admitting their weaknesses and asking for help. Be motivated more by the idea of preservation than by the force of pride. Preserve your relationships, your mental health, your physical health, your reputation; preserve your life, and drop your pride. It’s better to be alive and thriving than proud. And just because you seem strong, doesn’t mean you are. Countering pride is often the first step to proactive progress.
Fear vs Faith
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.” Fear keeps us at the bottom stair, and anxieties about what one would say to a doctor or what a counselor might dig up from the past weigh us down in paralysis. My counselor often told me, “The anticipation of an event is almost always worse than the actual event.” Remember that, and just take a single step of faith. You don’t need to see the whole staircase to do that. Be proactive in taking a single step.
Laziness vs Living
When we are lazy, we aren’t living. Life is not meant to be spent on a couch anymore than it is meant to rot alone in the darkness. Get up, and get out there. It is better to enjoy life than to forever laze through it. And while depression is certainly not synonymous with laziness, the two are often intertwined, feeding off each other like The Walking Dead. Nudge yourself in a healthy direction. Do not stay stagnant. Break the monotony. Be proactive with small, achievable steps to start.
There is a thought that I keep in mind while I write. “As long as there is life, there are words to write.” I use it as a reminder that I will never dry up as a writer because writing is a reflection of life, and life is always moving, evolving, developing. As long as I am alive, I have the ability write content. In the same way, even with depression and anxiety weighing you down, and mental illness paralyzing you, as long as there is life in your veins, there is a next step to take; there is something you can do.
Don’t die waiting to live. You are not incapable no matter how far the illness has rooted itself into your mind. This is your life; take responsibility. Take the reins back from depression and anxiety. When you are immobilized, take a minute to recognize if pride, fear, or laziness is what keeps you from proactive progress. Then, choose the alternative: preservation, faith, or life.
When we finally got our AC fixed (wishing we had done it sooner), while basking in the heavenly coolness, I turned to my wife and said, “There are much better reasons to get naked.” Indeed, I’d rather enjoy life than suffer through it.
What keeps you from being proactive? Does this article spark anything in you? Is it time to take a next step? Start by checking out my Quick Tip section for short, simple, and practical ideas for progress. Comment below with your next step!