Everyone has a story.
We all ended up in this chapter of our life one way or another.
I wish to share my story so you can better understand where I come from and why I do this.
This post is an outline of the obstacles and challenges I have faced throughout my life. Hopefully, it clarifies why I have battled with issues like anxiety and depression – if not for you, at least for myself.
My Early Years
There were two significant parts of my childhood that were very difficult.
- My dad left my mother while she was pregnant leaving me without a father.
- I had cancer when I was four years old.
Growing Up Without A Dad
Even though it never consciously bothered me, growing up without a second parent will take a toll on anyone.
I believe it bothers me more now as an adult than it did as a kid. It bothers me that I did not have a dad to teach me certain skills or to tell me everything was going to be okay in tough times.
There is a part of me that believes this is why I have anxiety.
A father’s primary responsibility is to make their child feel safe and secure. When you remove the father figure from the situation, this can change.
To my disappointment, I met my father when I was 12 years old. He was a chronic alcoholic and 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.
Thanks to my Christian principles, I have learned to forgive him. Hopefully he finds peace in his life one day.
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 leukemia.
Imagine being a 24-year-old single mother while your child has cancer…
My mother couldn’t hold down a job. Every day I was in and out of the hospital and the only hospital for my condition was almost an hour away from our home.
For those few years, we lived on welfare scraping by.
I was too young to remember most of the bad things at this stage. But, it kills me when I think of what my mom had to go through.
I also believe that chemotherapy had some lasting health effects which we will get to in a minute.
First Signs Of Anxiety
I can remember having anxiety as young as ten years old, although, I didn’t know what it was at the time.
Things as simple as eating a bag of chips would make me worry about getting cancer again.
When I was around 16, my general anxiety began to pick up. If I struggled in a class, I would think about it non-stop. When my homework had me stumped, I would get very stressed and agitated.
I elevated the importance of anything and everything in my life which caused me a lot of grief. My anxiety levels dictated what I could and couldn’t do. Almost everything seemed to elevate it making life uncomfortable.
First Signs Of Depression
When I started to date my girlfriend in my senior year of high school, my friend group and I grew distant.
They drifted towards the party lifestyle and I wanted to relax with my girlfriend. Alcohol made my anxiety worse and never seemed worth it.
Around this time, I started to feel depressed. I didn’t recognize it at first. I related it to loneliness since I did not have good friends around anymore.
Besides having my girlfriend, I felt alone for the first time in my life.
Even though I made many new friends over the next few years, my depression got worse.
Soon I started to get further health complications. I felt very tired and lethargic and my libido was much lower than it was a few years prior.
Based on my symptom profile and a lot of searching through Google, I came to the conclusion that my testosterone levels may be low.
Athough it was unusual for a young man, the side effects lined up perfectly.
A visit to the doctor and some bloodwork revealed I wasn’t crazy – my levels were indeed very low.
Over the course of the next few years, my sole focus became the optimization of my testosterone. My diet, exercise, and sleep patterns were all perfect. I was also trying every new herb I could find and reading every testosterone related article on the internet.
I was likely the only 19-year-old ever who checked his testosterone multiple times per year. A high testosterone reading on a blood test was more important to me than a paycheque.
Unfortunately, success eluded me. My testosterone increased but never to a level that allowed me the benefits of optimal testosterone.
After years of trying everything natural I could, I decided to start Testosterone Replacement Therapy.
I was finally able to get my testosterone to a satisfactory level. My mood and libido improved greatly but it was not the cure all I expected.
Due to chemotherapy, hormonal fluctuations, a labor intensive job, and constant anxiety, my adrenal glands were shot.
Adrenal fatigue crept up on me and eventually became so severe that I went through life feeling as though my brain was going to shut off and die at any point.
Getting out of bed was agony – every single day was a chore. To this day, this was the most depressing thing I have ever experienced.
My big dreams and potential felt crushed under the weight of my fatigue.
After trying 1000 things, I finally found a program that helped me get my health back on track. I began to feel better within a few months of taking the right steps.
Sports and weightlifting were always my passions 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 wrestling match. Four years and thousands of dollars in chiropractic and physiotherapy treatments later, it still persists.
It impedes what I can do in the gym and it often causes me sleepless nights.
After dealing with this injury for three years, I managed to acquire another injury. I tore my groin doing a labor intensive job. This created a complimentary lower body injury to match my upper body injury.
I have been in and out of the hospital and doctors office many times for my groin. One year ago I was told time and rest are all it requires…
My injuries have affected my career and come between the things I love to do. Chronic pain is something I’ve learned to live with but I will not settle until I have overcome it.
Genetic Factors In Mental Health
Now that we have the situations I have faced out of the way, we should discuss genetics.
Some people face depression or anxiety without obvious life factors causing them. This doesn’t make their suffering any less real (although it isn’t an excuse to give up).
Genetic traits get passed down from parents, so it is no surprise that mood disorders can be passed down as well.
My family tree has lots of history with mental health disorders.
My Moms Side Of The Family
My grandmother suffered from major depressive disorder, anxiety, and entangled it with alcoholism. She died from an overdose at 62 years old.
My mother has suffered from major depression and anxiety since she was 20 years old. She has been on medication ever since.
My Biological Dad
As discussed, I don’t know my dad well. But, I do know that he drowns in alcoholism.
If I were to guess, I assume he drinks to mask mental health issues.
Wrapping It Up
While I by no means have had the hardest run, I have faced enough obstacles to understand whatever you may be going through.
I no longer let me obstacles control me. Instead they fuel my desire for change – for a better life.
In hindsight, I am grateful for every last obstacle I have had to face. The man I am today only exists because of what I have been through.
I want you to know that whatever you are currently going through will pass. Life has more in store for you.
Thanks for getting to know me.