I’ve been working on my mental health for about nine years now. It comes and goes in waves. It sometimes stays longer than I would like, but sometimes disappears in an instant. It has its own way of dealing with things that are hard to control. In reality, it’s more of learning how to manage your mental health more than anything. I choose the word “manage” because it really is something that you can’t control. When I think about managing my mental health, for me, it was about seeking out the correct guidance for the emotions I was feeling during my life.
I first went to speak with a therapist about my mental health, specifically anxiety, about nine years ago. I was scared and nervous to voice what I was feeling to another person that I had never even met before in my life. I went for a couple of months and eventually felt good enough to stop going for a while. I was able to learn tools to help manage the anxiety I was feeling.
I learned that these emotions were coming in different waves at different times in my life. For many years, I tried to just speak to people I was comfortable with, whether that be friends or family, about what I was feeling – although everything wasn’t always being voiced to them.
I really didn’t want people to know that I was dealing with anxiety. I was worried and almost became more anxious since I didn’t want anyone to “find out” I was talking to a therapist. At this time in my life, I didn’t realize that my mental wellbeing was more important than literally everything else in the world. Nothing else should have mattered to me. If I’m being honest, I just really didn’t want others to think or look at me differently.
Then, about ten months ago, I was hit with the biggest wave thus far in my life when it came to managing my mental health. When I lost my best friend, Sean, it felt more like losing a brother. I hadn’t lost anyone this close to me outside of my immediate family, so I wasn’t exactly sure how to manage it. Grieving when you lose someone to suicide is different because this type of tragedy happens so unexpectedly. Losing Sean was more like getting hit with a train that I had no idea was coming.
My family noticed I was struggling to manage my mental health, so they spoke with me about going back to talk to a therapist – and I did.
I decided that I need to make my mental health a priority again and return to therapy. I realized that I could talk about my feelings with a therapist while also being fully and completely comfortable in my masculinity. Speaking with someone about your feelings should not be perceived as a weakness. It takes strength to admit that you need support and to share that with someone else, especially a complete stranger.
You are not alone if you are struggling with your mental health. It does not make you any less of a man or a woman or person to ask for help. Outside of talking with someone, I recently adopted a dog and made her my emotional support animal. It’s amazing how much an animal can change your perspective on a lot of things in life. I’ve learned the true meaning of “a man’s best friend” already in just a short six months. I can honestly say that Remy has positively contributed to my mental wellness.
The key is to figure out the right way to manage your own mental health. Just because you may suffer from mental health issues doesn’t take away from your chances of being successful and, most importantly, being happy with the life you live. Being happy with your life is all that really matters at the end of the day. Celebrities like Terry Bradshaw, Serena Williams, Brandon Marshall, and Michael Phelps speak about managing their mental health and look at all they have accomplished in their lives.
Nine years ago, I was scared and nervous to speak to someone about my feelings. But the truth is, it doesn’t make you any less than who you really are. No one can help if they don’t know what’s going on.
You are the first person that can help yourself. Getting the help you need to be the best YOU is what matters the most. It’s what mattered most to me.
Anthony Coburn Jr. is a Management Trainee for Enterprise Holdings in Clearwater, FL and a class of 2012 Salesian gentleman. He considers himself a huge sports fan, specifically of the Philadelphia sports teams (Go Birds). He also enjoys spending time with his friends and going to the beach in his free time. You can find him walking his dog, advocating for mental health, and spoiling his new niece, Adrianna.