Let’s Talk: Depression & Anxiety

It’s Bell Let’s Talk Day here in Canada. Since 2010, Canadian media giant Bell has been encouraging all Canadians to engage in conversations about Canada’s mental health. They’ve been successful in creating a united movement of ordinary citizens, Olympians, Musicians, Celebrities and even Politicians to talk about their own struggles and support others in their journey. It’s incredible and as much as its an advertising campaign for Bell, I respect their efforts and commitment to the cause. Today, Bell will donate $0.05 to mental health initiatives for every tweet with the hashtag of #BellLetsTalk on Twitter and Instagram. Every watch of their video in Facebook, every use of their Snapchat filter and even ever call and text message sent on their network. In the last 6 years, that’s added up to an amazing $79,919,178.55 and a hell of a lot of conversations that needed to be had! So with that, I would like to some of my journey.

 

Warning: Shit is about to get real

I’ve struggled with depression my entire life, but I would like to specifically share how it’s evolved over the last 12 months. Most of you know that over the past two years I went through a bad breakup of a long term relationship that brought me down for almost a year, took an absolutely toxic job and then lost it, and was off work for almost 9 months. Interestingly enough, that’s not what gets me down.

 

I fail at human interaction.

Like depression, I’ve always struggled with anxiety but the last year has amplified that to a level I’ve never seen before. A lot of people would say I’m pretty outgoing. I’m well known in my community, the surrounding communities, and online. But the truth is, interacting with others without context scares the shit out of me. I have no problem speaking to a room full of people, but one on one is something I struggle with more and more every day. This anxiety makes me talk a lot, in fact way too much, and I feel like people I meet think I’m a self-absorbed asshole. I accidently cut people off all the time and I hate myself for it. Honestly, I hate talking about myself. One of my greatest joys is hearing people’s stories. I love documentaries, I listen to podcasts like Story Corps that capture the stories of everyday people, truly care about your life’s journey. But I never seem to get there anymore.

This anxiety spills over into many other aspects of my life. I will go to my local brewery for a pint, see people I know well, some I’ve known for years and struggle with anything more than a hello. Unless I’m explicitly invited over, I will sit by myself. Thinking the whole time that I should go over to chat, twisted up inside because of the cold shoulder I’m giving them.

This summer I started running in an effort to be more healthy and I was damn successful in my efforts almost reaching my goal of running 10km every day. All summer I watch my friends, my ex-wife, and even my children do awesome runs together and I couldn’t bring myself to pull the trigger on doing it myself. I didn’t want to run into people I know and be embarrassed about my physical appearance, my lack of experience, or feel like I’m forcing myself into their worlds. Since I hurt my leg in August everything has gone off the rails again. I don’t run anymore, I’ve been eating like garbage and it pains me to admit I’ve gained 18 pounds.

I’ve stopped inviting people to do things and withdrawn from most things altogether because I don’t feel welcome. I go to movies alone, shopping alone, concerts alone, and it tears me apart. I’m not an anti-social person at all, I crave human interaction, but I can no longer be the catalyst because I’ve convinced myself that I’m a burden on their lives. This also means I will never be the one to kiss the girl first. I mean, why would she ever want to kiss me? I will never be the one to tell a stranger she’s beautiful or ask her on a date. If I don’t want myself, why would anyone else?

 

I fail my community.

The thing that makes me happiest in life is serving others. Big or small, I thrive when I know I’ve made a difference in someone’s day. Whether that’s giving of my time, sharing my knowledge or creating something positive for people to do. I absolutely love it and in times of pain, it’s been where I turn for fulfilment in my life. Last year I feel like I’ve really failed the non-profits dedicate my time too and even more so my fellow volunteers. I let depression take hold of me and my mind was so cluttered I couldn’t deliver on my promises. I put hundreds of hours into projects to come out with nothing and be too embarrassed to respond to emails.

For the last 8 years, I’ve been involved with every major Canadain Red Cross response in some capacity. I’m highly trained, have a lot experience, wasn’t working so I had all the time in the world and when things when wrong in Alberta this year… I didn’t even pick up the phone. The things I was able to complete for my community last year were a drop in the bucket compared to my usual efforts and were not executed to the best of my abilities.

 

I fail myself.

I feel like I’ve failed at everything I set out to do for myself in the last year. I sowed into a path of getting healthy and failed hard. I gained weight and I’m lucky if I remember to eat once a day. I’ve always been good at taking care of others, and never good at taking care of myself. I hate the way I look, the way I feel, and have no motivation to change anything.

I set out to launch a weekly YouTube show about movies, one of my greatest passions. I spent weeks filming the first 6 episodes, edited them, did custom animation for each one, promoted it on Twitter… and didn’t release a single episode. Watching them back all I saw was negative. The gap in your teeth is getting bigger Edward, look at the grey in your hair, you mumble and stumble over your words, that animation could be better, your voice is terrible, this is shit.

Most days it’s hard for me to get to sleep, and even harder to get out of bed. This makes me feel like a shitty father because in means that the little time that I do get with my kids is even shorter. When I do get up, I don’t feel like doing much and it pains me to see the legacy I’m leaving. I want nothing more than to be the greatest father and hopefully one day husband in the world. But I know, I’m not doing my best.

 

This is what echoes in my head every day.

 

But, I know it will be alright.

Deep down I know these feeling are bullshit. I know I’m a good person, I know I bring value, and I know that I’ve achieved more in my 32 years than most will in their lifetime. That’s the thing with depression and anxiety, it’s completely illogical. We know that most of our feelings are bullshit, but it doesn’t mean we don’t feel them and it doesn’t mean they will go away. With time, we can learn to manage them.

The things that get me through:

  • I have an amazing family. Loving parents, a brother that has become my best friend, an ex-wife that still truly cares and two loving children that show me every day how big their hearts really are. It’s important to have a great support system and I really do.
  • Amazing friends. I don’t see my friends as much as I would like to but I am so thankful for them old and new. I’ve had more real conversations in the last year then the 5 previous and it’s a beautiful thing.
  • Blogging. I’m going to let you in on a little secret… I don’t blog for you, and I’m not looking for a following. Sure I get warm fuzzies when I see interaction on my blog but for the most part, it’s therapy for me. When I was a teen I would toss on music and write pages and pages. Fill notebooks and never read them. Publicly speaking about my pain has helped me work through it and bring a new peace.
  • The creative community. I chose a great profession. Yes, often gets me down, breaks me… but it also builds. The creative community online has been extremely open with their struggles in both profession and life. Creativity and depression often go hand in hand. Thank you to everyone who shares their struggle with the world.
  • Music. I can honestly say that I owe an extreme debt to the bands PUP and Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls for getting me through the last year. Their honesty and passion mean a lot and Frank’s personal words to me really helped me move forward.
  • Real conversation. I try as hard as I can to not hide behind a mask. I’m unfiltered, raw, and real. This scares a lot of people off but the ones the stick around enhance my life more than anyone could know.

You’re not alone. We all have pain, we all have doubt, and we all try to hide it. Friends, strangers, enemies, I’m here – let’s talk.

Dave Mirra’s Legacy is More Than BMX

Last Thursday was a terrible day for me. At 1pm I lost my job… I did what most men would do and let a few close friends know. One of my friends reached out and said we should grab a beer and as he sat down I saw this tweet:

WHAT!? – We both into BMX and shocked by the news jumped on Google to find out what happened. It was true, Dave Mirra was dead of an apparent suicide. I’m not afraid to admit as a 31 year old man I welled up thinking about it. I never met the man but he had a profound effect on my life.

Dave Mirra – Childhood Hero

Dave Mirra has been as hero to my brother and I since we first watched him take X Games BMX Gold 20 years ago. We never missed a chance to watch him ride and over the years we watched him strike X Games Gold 13 more times. In all he took home 24 X Games medals, the man was a superstar. He made us want to ride a bikes, to practice hard, and we did.

13618_frontHe was also the man behind one of the favorite video games ever made Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2. Skateboarders had Tony Hawk and we had Dave Mirra. We would stay up for hours playing, pushing the boundaries of what we could do, finding the best lines, and besting each others scores.

The game was and remains a masterpiece, from the maps, to the controls, to the soundtrack – it still plays well 15 years later. So well infact I keep an old console around just to play it and i’m sure soon my children will be playing it too.

Through the success and accolades Mirra remained humble, building community and mentoring the next generation.

Last week my brother had this to say about Dave Mirra:

I’ve written several things about Dave Mirra and deleted them before posting. It’s hard to know what’s appropriate to say or even feel, really.

The reality is, one of my heroes took his own life yesterday, in a total shock to a massive community of people. Dave Mirra is a BMX legend. He pushed the sport of BMX and led a whole generation of kids to love the sport. He was also a rally car driver, he built skateparks, dominated in competitions. He was a husband, a father. He was a lot of things.

For me, one of the most important things Dave Mirra did was to be himself. He pushed limits, had character, kept going in the face of challenges, he built a community by giving back to the sport that made him an icon.

I guess it feels odd to call someone a hero in adulthood. He’s not the saved-15-kids-from-fiery-bus-crash type of hero. He’s the type of person a kid looks up to, because he’s an inspiration, type of hero. He blazed a trail in action sports. He led a group of people that doesn’t fit into most expectations and demographics…

Sean McIntyre via Facebook

Dave Mirra is one of the few heroes I remember from my childhood, and later in life he taught me so much more than I could have expected.

 

Dave Mirra – Fatherhood Hero

There’s no denying Dave Mirra was a BMX Legend, but when all’s said and done it’s a footnote in his legacy in my mind. I will never forget Dave Mirra because when I things were rough for me, he pushed me to become a better father. Dave offered these words of wisdom.

As a father, you are automatically inducted into the Hall of Responsibility. Life is about ups and downs, great times and tough times. My responsibility as a father is to show my kids balance, education and character. Although I’m not perfect, I am always keeping my eyes open for a better way to be the best father I can be. I am lucky enough to have this opportunity to raise 2 beautiful daughters and in turn, I have the chance to be loved for the rest of my life. Being a father isn’t just about teaching our kids how to be great but also learning how to be a better teacher.

Dave Mirra – #BEADADNOTAFAD

Through following Dave I got to see what an amazing father he is. He didn’t just preach the good news of fatherhood, he strived to be an example for others. He pushed himself to be an amazing father as he was an amazing athlete.

While pushing himself to be a great father Dave Mirra co-founded #beadadnotafad, a social movement to encourage fathers and share their great work. Looking through the hashtag and official accounts on Instagram, Twitter & Facebook have inspired me to word harder, to be better, and to leave an amazing legacy in my children.

The pdub is still in the shop so they are back to taking turns. 👍 #sistersforlife

A post shared by Dave Mirra (@davemirra) on

Dave’s passion for sharing the joys of fatherhood equaled that his athletic career. When he took up triathlons, the whole family did. In fact Mirra’s oldest daughter was the first one in the family to complete a triathlon.

Race morning family pic in Lake Placid. Love it. #family4life

A post shared by Dave Mirra (@davemirra) on

Although I will never understand why Dave choose to leave us, I am thankful that he was here. To build community, to inspire youth, and inspire us again as adults.

 

Let the world know you love them

I wish I had a chance to let Dave know what he meant to me. To tell him that he inspired me as a kid and still inspires me today. I realise that the more a person grows in popularity the harder it is for their praises to have a deep effect on you. You hear your amazing all the time and your mind becomes numb to the fact that what they’re saying might be true. seans-wordsDave was an amazing man, we lost an amazing man, and a beautiful family lost there father, a loving wife – her husband.

I’m thankful that I have family and friends that go the extra mile. They’re here for me before I even know I need them, and I hope I offer the same to them.
Never pass up an opportunity to let someone know they’re loved, that they’re needed, and that they’re legendary.

Dave Mirra is my childhood hero, and my fatherhood hero.
If that’s not legendary I don’t know what is, and remember…

#BEADEDNOTAFAD