It’s now been 18 months since my last contribution to Men for Mental Health and it didn’t take long to receive so much unexpected positive feedback on my last piece. It was such an emotional time for me and I can not express what it all meant to me. In no way ever did I write ‘Smiling Depression’ to seek approval or feedback but more so to allow my vulnerability to allow my path of progression to continue. To most effectively understand the following, I recommend that you read my previous contribution here.
The article gained so much recognition and was used in numerous Australian Universities as a study case but more importantly was the heartfelt messages I received from people who came forward and expressed their sincere gratitude and feedback about how much it had impacted their own journey and outlook on life. So from a 29 year old male whom was just gaining purpose in life, the impact of my story was breathtaking and I couldn’t wait to hopefully help others.
Enter phase 2:
Expand on my story, write the second article on:
Explaining how you can go from zero to hero?
Just hang in there because it will be ok?
Just talk to someone about your problems?
All could have been relevant headlines and topics in one way or another yet so ingenuine, cliche and predictable in the whole scheme of things which unfortunately seems to be to prevalent in the mental health industry at the moment. The awareness and stigma around mental health continues to improve which is amazing but the platforms and programs for overcoming issues still seem lackluster.
Fast forward 12 months and a ‘QLD bogan’ is asked to speak and present at Western Australia’s most prestigious private school to 400, 16-17 year old boys about my journey of success, failure, peserverentice and being relentless. An eye opening experience and such a compliment to have the attention of a room full of people willing to listen to my story.
But, I’m 30 now…. Surely that’s not where the story ends and everyone lives happily ever after? Off course not!
My personality seeks progress and success but in reference to my last article I stated that failure was something I struggled to confront and deal with. Finding a new passion coaching the local football team gave me back some purpose but in all sports you are sure to experience failure in one way or another, I was quick to face that feeling by losing a game four weeks in. As the head coach my actions and attitude not only reflect my club and players but will also impact the results week after week.
No one likes to loose or fail, especially me. No one likes to be down, sad, angry, lost or even suicidal. Which is exactly what I had experienced for years and a reason behind building the fake, happy, arrogant persona. I was willing to become vulnerable and accepting of my feelings and behaviour but without actioning any of this I was never going to progress.
I had become complacent with where I was at, across all aspects in my life. Not only was I stagnant at points but at times started to portray old behavioural traits which disappointed me but until I reflect, it also affected and disappointed the people who cared most for me. And it resulted in some dark places over the past 6 months with some life threatening situations. I had become well aware of what was happening, anxiety on the rise again, dislike of being in public and not to mention the diagnosis of nervous body ticks. So in brief, up came my wall of arrogance and stubbornness again.
Having previously seeked help for issues, I knew my behavioural traits but was never given the perfect formula to correct my actions.
I had to reflect on the previous 18 months and understood I had to create a platform to overcome the weaknesses that were letting me down because without structure or strategy I could easily be distracted. The challenge was to now action everything I had accepted about myself.
Continuing from the first article, writing this piece was not to talk about myself but to yet be honest and maybe connect with someone in the same position that can learn from my experiences. At times, the mental health discussion can seem a little cliche and predictable so I only want to provide an insight that is genuine and from a very non-clinical perspective.
Yes, I agree with the hot words like ‘ life purpose’ ‘passion’ and ‘self awareness’ but they alone do not provide a simple path away from depression.
I’m a 30 year old bogan with no university degree relating to mental health, however I am 30 year old bogan that has become aware of my actions and behaviour around depression which is why I have created a reflective platform so I can progress and move forward and it’s quite simple and may even trigger some of you.
Knowing my personality type and my triggers are key so not looking for a quick fix or bandaid to mask low points rather seek options or positive distractions like exercise or activity. Having setbacks that I would have often described as a fail or problem is now seen as a challenge for me that can be overcome or potentially provide another opportunity. Whilst my poor preparation and communication can often be a reflection of my depression, actively being responsible for it and simply returning calls, emails and texts are a way of breaking the cycle. This continues on for me across many aspects of my life and I am the only person responsible for all outcomes and without being aware or actioning the platform I have built then complacency can potentially creep back in.
The roller coaster of depression will continue but my platform for success helps flatten the tracks along the ride. This is no prescription but it may resonate with someone, somewhere. My story continues…