Everyone has a story.
We all ended up in this chapter of our life one way or another.
I feel the need to share my story so you can understand the person behind the blog, where I come from, and why I am here.
There are two kinds of people I refuse to take advice from.
The first is the kind of person who has no idea what they are talking about. This person will give advice even though everyone in the room can tell they don’t have a clue what they are talking about.
This is obvious to everyone for one simple reason: they haven’t lived it, therefore they don’t have experience in the field they are talking about.
If they do not understand their relative field, why would people take their advice? I wouldn’t.
The second kind of person is the person who says “Do as I say, not as I do”.
This person “seems” to know the way to success yet they do not follow such a path. They walk their own path and fall short of their own teachings.
I believe anyone who tries to give advice needs to lead by example, following his/her own advice.
This post is meant to outline the obstacles and challenges I have faced in my mental health journey, and hopefully justify why I have battled with issues like anxiety and depression (if not for you at least for myself).
My Early Years
I had a great childhood, no questions asked. My memories are sweet, and I do not feel like I missed out when I look back. For this I am forever grateful.
However, there was two significant parts of my childhood that set me back:
- My dad left my mother while she was pregnant.
- I was diagnosed with Leukemia (cancer of the blood) when I was 4 years old.
Growing Up Without A Dad
I am so blessed to have the mother I do.
Even though I grew up without a dad, my mom showed me unconditional love.
That being said, even though it never consciously bothered me, growing up without a second parent will take a toll on anyone.
Personally, I believe it bothers me more now as an adult than it did as a kid.
Now that I am older it bothers me I did not have a dad to teach me manly skills, or even to tell me everything was going to be okay.
I eventually met my biological father when I was 12 years old. He was a chronic alcoholic, and he stood me up four out of the five times we tried to make plans.
I never saw him again after I was 14, he did another vanishing act without a word.
There is a part of me that believes this is why I have anxiety.
One of a dads primary responsibilities is to make their child feel safe and secure, when you remove the father from the situation this can change.
When I was four years old, my mother took me to the doctor for a rough cough only to find out I had an early stage of cancer.
Imagine being a 24 year old single mother while your child has cancer…
She couldn’t hold down a job because everyday I was in and out of the hospital. The only hospital for my condition was almost an hour away from my house.
For those few years we lived on welfare just scraping by.
Thankfully I was too young to remember most of the bad things in this stage, although it kills me when I think of what my mom went through.
I also believe chemotherapy had some lasting health effects which I will get to in just a minute.
I can remember having anxiety as young as 10 years old ,although I didn’t know what it was at the time.
Things as simple as eating junk food would make me worry about getting cancer again.
When I was around 16 years old I really started to notice my general anxiety pickup.
If I struggled in a class, I would think about it non-stop. When homework had me stumped I would get extremely stressed and agitated.
It was around this same time me and my friends had started to smoke marijuana fairly regularly. To this day I still wonder if my anxiety was related to smoking weed.
My girlfriend came into my life soon after and she lit up my world. This girl was too perfect for me.
I worried all the time I would lose her. Not because I was self conscious, but because I always worried and she was the primary focus of my thoughts.
First Signs of Depression
When I started to date my girlfriend, me and my close group of friends started to go our own ways.
They were drifting towards the partying lifestyle, and I just wanted to relax with my girlfriend.
Around the same time I started to feel fairly depressed.
I didn’t really recognize it at first, I related it to loneliness since I did not have my good friends around anymore.
Besides my girlfriend, I felt alone for the first time in my life.
All through my youth I always had close friends.
Over the next few years, even though I made new friends, my depression got worse.
Soon I started to get further health complications. I was feeling very tired and lethargic, and my libido was dramatically lower than it was when I was just a few years younger.
Research and Circumstances Led Me to Testosterone
Based on my symptom profile and a lot of searching through Google, I came to the conclusion my testosterone levels may be low.
Although it was highly unusual for a young man, the side effects lined up and the arrows were green.
A visit to the doctor and some blood work showed my levels were indeed much lower than normal.
Over the course of roughly 3 years, my sole focus became the optimization of my testosterone.
My diet, exercise routine, and sleep patterns were all perfect. I was also trying every new herb I could find.
I was likely the only 19 year old who ever went in to a doctors office to get bloodwork multiple times a year.
For what it was worth, a high testosterone reading on a blood test would look like an extra zero on a paycheque.
With sheer focus, using the natural techniques I wrote about here, I was able to roughly double my testosterone levels.
Alongside an increase in testosterone, my well being definitely picked up, but I was never able to shake the high levels of fatigue I was facing.
One thing I failed to mention was how bad my anxiety had become in the last few years.
It was now something I was dealing with on a daily basis.
Due to the chemotherapy, and my constant anxiety and stress, my adrenal glands were hurting.
Soon enough adrenal fatigue crept up on me, and progressively got worse. Eventually my fatigue became so bad I felt like a zombie.
It seemed as though I would keel over and die at any point, and once again, I was trying herbs and everything to feel better.
Just getting out of bed took so much effort it was insane. To this day, this was the most depressing thing I have ever experienced.
I found a program online that got to the root of adrenal fatigue and started to feel better after a few months of taking the right steps.
This was the turning point in my recovery, and ultimately the most crucial step I ever took. To this day I still have to keep up to date on my health or I start to feel horrible again.
Sports and weightlifting were always my passion that kept me sane. Weightlifting to this day has been the best medicine for me.
In my early 20’s I suffered a nasty neck injury during a casual wrestling match that stuck with me for years.
It severely impeded what I could do in the gym and often caused me sleepless nights.
I had to bring a special supportive pillow with me anytime I stayed at my girlfriends or we went on vacation.
After about 2.5 years living with this injury it finally started to improve. This involved regular chiropractic and massage therapy.
Not a month after my neck felt better I seriously pulled my groin at work. My groin has now been bothering me for six months.
I have been in and out of the hospital and doctors office multiple times only to be told that only time can heal it.
The gym has been off my radar gym for months.
My injury has affected my career and has come between the things I love to do. On top of that I deal with pain daily.
For some it may sound petty, but for me it has just been a four year uphill battle to do the things that help my mental health.
Now that we have the situations that have impacted my life out of the way, we should discuss genetics.
After all, some people are just depressed without reason. This doesn’t make their suffering any less real.
Depression and anxiety can definitely be shaped by our beliefs and life experiences but I believe it goes beyond that.
It is known in the scientific community that traits get passed down from parents, so it is no surprise that mood disorders are transferable as well.
I want to stress that this does not mean you are doomed for life. For some a little more effort will be required.
On My Moms Side Of The Family
My grandmother suffered from major depressive disorder, anxiety, and alcoholism and she died from an overdose of painkillers, sleeping pills and alcohol at 62 years old.
My mother has suffered from major depression and anxiety since she was 20 years old. She has also dealt with a host of hormonal problems in recent years.
Last but not least, alcoholism runs rampant in the family tree, thankfully this is one bullet I dodged.
On My Dads Side Of The Family
I don’t know my dad well which I explained earlier however; I do know he has been an extreme alcoholic all his life.
If I were to guess, I would assume he drinks to cover up his mental health issues.
Wrapping It Up
This is only a summary of my life, there is only so much experiences and emotion I could possibly convey through a post.
While I by no means have had the hardest run, I have faced my share of obstacles.
Rather than fight them, and meet them with resentment and unhappiness, I now use these factors to propel my life forward.
Admittedly it would take a lot for me to do it all over again BUT in hindsight, I wouldn’t take it back for the world.
I am the man I am today because of what I have been through.
If you feel lost and hopeless know this: One day you will be looking through the window on the other side like I am, yet on that other side you will be stronger, wiser, and more appreciative than you ever new possible.