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.

When You ❤️ Love & 😬 Dating : A Recipe For Awkward

Navigating the world of dating is a lot like space travel. We know it’s possible, there have been great successes, but most of our attempts end in catastrophic failure. We’re faced with constant indecision, mountains of self-doubt, and somehow we’ve been tasked with tearing down the walls people have built around themselves. Despite the looming clouds above, we press on through the wind and the waves in search of the light.

The following is a collection of short thoughts compiled over the last year. They cover various aspects of love & dating but are not necessarily related to each other.

Society Tells Me I’m Broken

I’ve never really been that man that popular culture says we are, and I’m thankful for that. As a single man in my early 30’s I constantly feel more and more enraged with the words and actions of my own gender. I keep thinking if this is what women knows, that they expect. I certainly don’t fit in.

  1. Sow your oats young man.  I have married friends that are on a mission to cheat on their wives. Sometimes I feel like they only want to hang out so they have an outlet to hit on other women. As someone that chooses to be militantly faithful, I can’t understand why others can’t “man up and step up”. Someone choose to invest their life in you and it’s your duty to invest in them. Half the energy you spend avoiding your marriage would go a long way to building it. My single male friends that ask me questions like “Why don’t you just fuck the loose Tinder bitches like the rest of us?” Personally, I’m not one for “locker room talk” in fact, it really makes me want to punch people in the face. I constantly feel chastised because I’m not trying to add notches to my bedpost like it’s a video game. Sorry, but I’m not into creating a wake of hurt.
  2. The laws of attraction. Most men long for summer where bikinis reign supreme, I long for cardigans in the autumn air. (Why yes, I did notice your cute sweater. Indeed, I should’ve told you) Each to their own but I find tasteful modesty attractive in both dress and attitude. There is something magical to me about a woman that doesn’t feel like she needs to put it all out there all the time. I’m attracted to you, not your cleavage.
  3. Love like the movies. To both my credit, and my downfall I have a 16-year-old view of love. I do believe that love can be amazing, that magical moments exist and ultimately people are good. I believe it’s your duty to win you lovers heart every day in whether it a grand gesture or doing the dishes. Hey, there is no reason why you can’t take a helicopter to a mountain top picnic just because it’s Wednesday… and Wednesdays suck.
  4. Failure to launch. For a lot of men it’s easy, but asking a woman on a date or even asking for a phone number is incredibly difficult for me. The reason is two-fold. First, I am incredibly shy one-on-one. Something that has grown exponentially over the last year and a half, I’m working on it slowly, but for now… I really need to know you first. Secondly, I go out of my way to not inconvenience others. I never want to be that asshole hitting on a girl that is just trying to have fun with their friends, or give someone anxiety about how to reply. I’m stressed just writing about this.

Yes, I’m a man. I love sex, have a dirty mind, and desire the company of a good woman. I also value respect, dignity, and context. There is a time and a place for everything. Yet, I don’t fit in with the guys, and I can’t help but feel like I’m broken.


Lessons From A Tinder Dropout

Since it’s launch Tinder intrigued me. My life has not taken a typical dating path, and I’ve always been in long term relationships so I was curious what it’s like. Would anyone swipe right for me? What kind of person swipes right for me?  Is it possible to find something real on Tinder? So when I felt like I might be ready to date again I signed up, crafted a bio, curated my photo gallery and sent it to masses, so strangers could quietly judge my worth.

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My actual Tinder profile with bio version 2.0

I wouldn’t say that I struck out on Tinder per say. I had quite a few matches (I just installed the app to take the screenshot and still have 5 matches after months of inactivity) but I can’t say that any of them turned into actually meeting someone in real life. After a month or so of jumping down the rabbit hole, I decided to retire Tinder. Here are some insights from my journey in the Tinderverse.

Why I didn’t swipe right for you

  • Your photos look like a Where’s Waldo book. In a context where you are given so little to go on, photos are important. I want to see you and your personality.
  • Your photos span a massive timeline. Your profile should be about who you are, not who you were. My personal rule of thumb was to only use photos taken in the last year. Yes, I was skinnier two years ago but it’s not relevant now.
  • All of your photos contained alcohol or drugs.
  • Your photos portrayed smoking or heavy drug use (yes there was many).
  • You didn’t fill in a bio. If I have nothing to go on, our conversation is going nowhere.
  • Your bio was overly pompous or the first word was tattoos. Hey, I like tattoos too but if you’re not a tattoo artist they shouldn’t define you.
  • The quality of your photos made you seem like a bot or phishing scheme.
  • Your profile didn’t lead me to believe that we would have an interesting conversation.

Why I didn’t message you when we matched

  • When I reviewed your profile a second time I questioned what I was thinking the first time.
  • Upon review, your bio lacked enough information to have a real conversation.
  • My personal anxiety created a situation where I didn’t feel like talking then, but as a result, too much time had passed and I didn’t want you to think you were plan-b.

Why I unmatched you

  • I was always forced to lead the conversation.
  • You took too long to message back. Usually, 48 hours at first and timeline varies after initial contact based on the context of the conversation.
  • You avoided simple questions about yourself. If I’m going to meet you, I need to know something about you.
  • You seemed uninterested in learning about me.

How not to talk to women on Tinder

  • DO NOT seem genuinely interested in who they are or what they do. The more genuine you try to be on Tinder, the more people think you’re a creep. Even though their bio says “absolutely no hookups”, the majority of Tinder matches are expecting you to throw yourself at them.
  • DO NOT start a conversation with anything you would normally start a conversation with. You want to start with an interesting question or if you’re the brave type, a horribly bad pickup line.

Tinder was an interesting world I can say that. I know a lot of my list is superficial and subjective, but that’s exactly what Tinder is. I could tell our world was heading this direction when back in the 90’s every chat rooms conversation started with ASL????? The online conversation game annoyed me then, and the AOL chatroom has been reborn in Tinder.

Tinder isnt for me because I’m not into playing the field, I play for keeps.


There are two more sections I excluded for length. If you enjoy my ramblings about love & dating leave a comment below and I will consider posting them soon.

What are your experiences with online dating?

Have you had success? Failure?