Break the Stigma

Mental health is as important as physical health. As guys, we are often taught through family, tv, or social media that it is not manly to be depressed or get help. That is the furthest from the truth however! For those of you that have seen the show “A Million Little Things” on ABC, they have made this apparent. (For those of you that haven’t, I highly recommend it!) There are so many things that can cause depression/anxiety from chemical imbalances to stressors from life. But why can’t we get past the idea that needing help, whether it be therapy or meds or both, is totally ok? I have personally been through this myself.

Instead of admitting when I was younger that things just didn’t feel right, I never said anything. Then came my cancer almost 1 year ago to the date. I was diagnosed with situational anxiety and prescribed Cymbalta, an antidepressent. It allowed me to cope with the situation much better than without. There were times that I would forget to take it for a couple of days and I would find myself crying for virtually no reason. After my amputation, I had every reason to stay on it for both depression (I was later diagnosed with mild depression, not just anxiety) and nerve pain. Now that I would say that I have been able to move past my depression and anxiety caused by the cancer and resultant amputation, I find that I am happier than I have been for years. Having the feeling of not wanting to be on antidepressents for the rest of my life and the stigma that comes with them, I have tried to stop taking them before. I can tell when I do that, I am not as happy as I am when I am on them.

I want to stress that being diagnosed with depression or anxiety is not something to be ashamed of. I fully believe that I had as much control over having depression as I did my cancer. None. Ignoring them would have eventually killed me. It didn’t mean that I didn’t love my wife or daughter and they couldn’t make me happy. It just meant that I needed help getting my body into a normal phase.

Another thing that is often not talked about regarding this is paternal postpartum depression. Again, I know without a doubt that I went through this but never got help for it. I felt like I had no right to feel that way but I honestly resented my daughter being born. Suddenly I couldn’t go fishing, hunting, golfing, and all of the things I loved doing as much. When my wife worked nights, I was the only one home to take care of her when she was up all night crying. It wears on you! And again, it is a time when I should have reached out for help but even just 3 years ago, paternal PPD wasn’t talked about. I fully believe that the questions asked of new mothers should be asked of new fathers to test for it.

If you are feeling like you aren’t as happy as you were or could be. If things you loved doing just don’t seem appealing anymore and you have no desire to do them. If your friend or loved one seems to be showing these signs. REACH OUT! It is not something to be ashamed of. Trust me, life is so much better after reaching out and getting help.

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