Mental illness affects nearly 60 million people in this country. This guy I was friends with "Johnny", is going to be forty this year. For the past 15 years or so he has been floating in and out of psychiatric facilities (both voluntary and involuntary). In and out of jails. In and out of relatives homes. In and out of the lives of his friends and loved ones. His old self is a memory. He is a ghost who angrily at times flits in and out of people's lives. He was never able to continue with his life, graduate college, get a job and have a family. All the goals a young adult usually has.
Recently I read about one of the dads posted on a dad blogger facebook group that one of his fellow members of the San Francisco City Dads group had killed himself. This man, whose name I don’t know (and I wouldn’t share anyway), left behind many friends and loved ones including a five-year-old child. His child will never really know his/her, dad. And may hold a resentment towards being abandoned by their father. His child will need therapy. I am not sure if he was in therapy.
Getting the help you need is really hard for guys. There is a stigma of weakness in going to a doctor to treat your physical ailments. But the stigma is way worse for dealing with mental health issues. But talking to someone or taking a prescription helps. And it’s not easy. But it helps. But talking to someone or and possibly even taking prescribed medication can help. Admitting and seeking help are not easy.
I don’t share this story often. About seven years ago, I was deep in the rat race. I had a pretty good job. I had an awesome wife and an adorable less than year old daughter. But every day I felt the weight of the world on top of me. Crushing me. Driving over the Whitestone Bridge to work was so stressful. Everything was my fault, even when it wasn’t. I was lucky that my job offered mental health care with our insurance. So I booked a conference room and called the mental health hotline. I made an appointment with a therapist who had an office right next store to my office. I walked back to my desk and felt a great pressure released from my chest. Just the simple step of doing something about it made me feel better. In the two and a half years I met with the therapist, we talked about family and work. Sometimes I would just go there and meditate for the hour. I got out frustrations about being decades old anger about being abandoned, I talked about not being appreciated, and not getting promised promotions. It usually made me feel better.
But then when I was no longer with that company, I couldn’t see the therapist anymore. She offered to see me pro-bono but only in the White Plains office not the more convenient NYC office. So I stopped going. I regret that.
This past fall while at the At Home Dad Network Convention, I heard about Run Dad Run, a virtual 5k which will act as a fundraiser for the network and raise awareness for Men’s mental health. While I think it’s great to raise funds for the organization, I think that getting the word out there, lifting the stigma of men getting help for any mental health issues is even more important.
So on April 30th I will run through the streets of Ridgewood Queens, I am still working on the path. But it will be really worth it. To get myself ready I will have to take these steps.
1 – Visit my doctor to get a refill on my prescriptions. Because mens physical health is also important.
2 – Get the word out about the race on all my social media channels
3 – Continue to take my minimum of 11K steps
4 – Continue to take my Smarty Pants Men’s Complete vitamins to supplement the somewhat random diet of a stay at home parent.
5 – And keep building up my strength and stamina in the gym and on the road to complete the run
If dads like me all across the nation run/walk 3.1 miles at the end of April, and we get the word out one through traditional and social media, people will know what is going on. It is too late for the Bay Area dad, and it is probably too late for Johnny. But if one guy, hears about it and is inspired to get the help he needs it’s all worth it.
This post was sponsored by Smarty Pants vitamins. I have been using the Men's complete vitamin, each serving includes Premium nutrients, A delicious multivitamin for taste bud amazement, Omega 3 DHA and EPA fish oil for brain health, CoQ10 for heart health (120 mg) and Lycopene for arterial health and prostate support.