This was originally written in 2015 as a contribution to #BellLetsTalk. A lot has happened since then, but I thought it was worth a repost with some edits and updates.
The night before our third son was born, I took to Twitter to share a few thoughts in regards to my struggles with anxiety. I always get super reflective around times of change, and welcoming a third son into the world certainly qualified.
Since it was around #BellLetsTalk day, I thought I would share those tweets here, and reiterate the fact that I’m always available to chat for those who need an ear.
Anxiety is something that has affected me for as long as I can remember, and I’ve often felt paralyzed by fear, doubt, and worry, often to the detriment of those I love the most. I can’t say I’ve fallen into a full on depression, but I can pinpoint times in my life where I would wake up and comfort myself with the thought that this point in the day would be the furthest I’d be from returning to bed, which is where I really wanted to remain.
It was only through my wife’s loving encouragement and support that I was able to fully acknowledge that my anxiety was a problem – not only for myself but also for others – and to seek help through meeting with a counselor and talking to our family doctor.
With three boys to raise, it’s something that needed to be reeled in, not only to model to them that a better way of living is possible, but also to demonstrate that there is no shame in talking about our feelings and seeking help when the need arises. This is something that remains an every day struggle, but I feel I’m on a better path. Connecting with people via social media has been helpful to that end, so know that I’m always open to chatting if anyone out there needs to open up.
The truth is, I waited too long to address it, but am glad I did when I did. A few weeks after he was born, our baby boy was diagnosed with a heart issue that required a procedure at Sick Kids; while it was successful, he did develop a blood clot as a result, requiring injections for several days. Two years later, my wife Lauren was diagnosed with breast cancer, and her treatment involved two surgeries, eight rounds of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation.
I don’t think I would have made it through those times without my anxiety medication, various centering techniques I’ve picked up along the way, and being open about my feelings with people who were willing to come alongside us. Life is hard, the world is messed up, but we can take steps today to make things a little bit better for ourselves and the people we love.
As I mentioned in ‘Why Somewhere North?’, there’s a place in Scotland (pictured above) that I consider to be my favorite place on Earth, the happy, peaceful spot I picture in my head in anxious times.
If there’s one thing I can suggest right now to help, it’s to think of your happy place, take some deep breaths, and try to believe everything can be ok. Who knew Happy Gilmore was that life changing?
All this to say, please keep talking, please keep listening, and please know that you are not alone in this world; if you’re struggling and need a non-judgmental ear, feel free to hit me up on Twitter, Facebook or via email, all of which can be found near the top right of this blog.