As far back as I can remember I’ve always had issues with the way I look. I was called a ‘big kid when I was 2. I wasn’t overweight, I was just tall with lots of hair on my head. Apart from that and up until my early teens, I don’t remember suffering from anxiety, depression or body dysmorphia. But once I hit my teens it feels like my world changed.
In my early teens I was enlisted into lifesaving classes at our local swimming pool. The boys weren’t allowed wear shorts, it was regular men’s swimming trunks only. I found hopping in and out of the pool while practicing lifesaving scenarios sent anxiety racing through my body. This was the first time I remember feeling very body-conscious.
I’d go home from the classes and straight to my bedroom feeling angry and depressed, with tears running down my face. In reflection I wasn’t any different to anyone else, I just wasn’t comfortable in my own skin. That is where my anxiety and depression started and has never really left.
From my early teens to my early 30s I disliked myself so badly that I tried to take my own life twice. I couldn’t go through with it. I felt depressed nearly all the time. There was and still is a history of mental health in my family, but only recently I discovered the extent of it.
I changed careers in 2008 when the construction industry collapsed. It forced me to re-evaluate my life. I had no training in anything outside of construction. I’ve always loved design, computers, marketing, and visual advertising, but what could I do with those interests. I went back to college and studied digital marketing, which in itself was a massive step for me. After college, I was offered a job in a sales company. I would be in tears every morning and every evening. I couldn’t eat or sleep. I was agitated by everything. My anxiety had exploded and I couldn’t control it. I stayed in the job for 6 months and quit. I was so anxious and depressed I needed some time off. Forward another 6 months and I was offered another job, this time as a digital marketing coordinator. I thought to myself ‘this is the beginning of a new chapter for me’. However, my anxiety exploded again, this time even worse. I stayed in that job for nearly a year and it completely broke me. I needed more time off. On the positive side it forced me to seek help.
I used some needed time off to do some soul searching and figure out what the root causes were. With the right therapist and medication, I was ready to press play on my life again.
I’m now 40 years old. I’m a digital marketing manager in a sales and advertising agency. I love my job and I’m good at it. I’m always revaluating things but this time I do it on my terms. I'll always have anxiety, depression, and body dysmorphia but I'm learning to manage it.
I’ve used the time during the pandemic to start my blogging website and podcast called The Endless Spiral. I offer others a platform to share their own stories on my website and I interview a wide range of guests on my podcast. I’m not sharing my story in the hope of inspiring other men to share theirs. Mental health in men doesn’t get discussed enough and I’m on a missing to change that.
There is light at the end of the tunnel, I’m proof of that. Never think you can’t do something. Never feel there isn’t another chapter to be written in your story. Write your own legacy and be proud of it.