The Advice I Would Give Other Guys Fighting Depression

“Trust in your ability to recover from depression and be relentless in your efforts towards reaching it.”

For the last two and half years I’ve been the Project Coordinator for HeadsUpGuys, a resource supporting men in their fight against depression. In my spare time I enjoy portrait photography.

This is my story.

What was the major turning point in your recovery from depression? 

During the fall of 2009, I was severely depressed and suicidal. Even though I had started to reach out and begin my recovery, I couldn’t see myself ever getting better. In early 2010, the pain became too much to bear and I tried to end my life. I was lucky to survive, and was eventually taken by ambulance to a hospital, where I stayed for a week recovering from a punctured lung, broken bones and fractures.

In the aftermath, I experienced a flood of emotions that included love for my family and friends, and a great relief and happiness to still be alive. I hadn’t felt anything remotely that positive in months. Even though my mood dropped back down, the glimpse and knowledge that I was still capable of feeling well motivated me to restart my recovery.

What are some things that really helped? 

Learning about depression:

I remember the first time I filled out a self-check about depression, going down the list of symptoms and ticking off all the boxes. It became obvious I was depressed, but before that moment I wasn’t sure if what I was experiencing was normal, or something I could fix myself. I had blamed and ridiculed myself for feeling so low.

Being honest about what was bringing me down the most:

Before I tried to end my life, I had been too embarrassed to bring up most of the important issues I was dealing with in counseling. Afterwards in group therapy, I saw how honest other people were. I realized I would have to be completely honest as well if I wanted to move forward and address some long-term and recurring issues.

Learning to disengage with my thoughts:

Mindfulness took a lot of practice, but really helped to stop the vicious cycle of thoughts going on in my head. Even after I started to understand depression, I would get upset at myself for thinking so negatively or not being able to fix things right away. Instead of getting down because I was still depressed, I’d think:

  • “OK, I’m being super negative and misinterpreting things.”
  • “It’s good I noticed this.”
  • “What can I do now, in the moment, to distract myself or move on.”

Walking, deep breathing and photography became helpful tools in my recovery from depression, as I learned to refocus my attention back to the present.

What advice would you give other guys fighting depression?

Trust in your ability to recover and be relentless in your efforts towards reaching it. Depression isn’t something you can outthink or solve on your own. Make the most of the supports around you, gather your resources and fight depression with everything you have. How I feel today is so far removed from how I felt six years ago it still amazes me. When I was depressed I couldn’t imagine that recovery was possible, but here I am.

Hear more of his journey in Josh’s story video.

This post originally appeared on HeadsUpGuys.

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If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

Screenshot via Josh’s story video.

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