16 October 2019

Guys, let’s keep the conversation going

Mo Bro Kevin O'Reilly says it's OK to not be OK
In the Barber Chair
3 MIN READ
 

In 2010, I transferred to a new job and something happened. I couldn’t turn my brain off.  I couldn’t get to sleep.  Once I did get to sleep, I woke up a few hours later with my brain racing. I was living on two to three hours of sleep a night. I would pace around like a caged tiger knowing I needed to get some sleep in order to feel rested for work in the morning - but unable to find a way to settle and get any real rest.
 
I made it through my work day but I was starting to have memory and concentration issues. All I could think about was needing to curl up somewhere and sleep but that was not going to happen at work. By the end of the day when I got home I was exhausted and had no energy left for my family.  On the weekends it felt like I was in quicksand with handcuffs and shackles on with the quicksand slowly hardening.  I had no energy to do anything.  All I wanted to do was sleep so I would have enough energy to make it through the next week.
 
I lived like that for a year.  Never missing a day’s work.  Not telling anyone about it.  Not living. Just barely surviving. I thought I was being a real man.  And it almost killed me. I didn’t want to live. Eventually, depression and anxiety teamed up to put a hold on me that was so tight I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t drive. I couldn’t work. For six weeks.
 
I let it go for too long without getting help.  We would never let a broken leg or arm go that long.  Or most other illnesses.  Why do we let depression and anxiety go so long?  Fear.  Fear of looking weak.  Fear of losing control. Fear of losing our jobs.  Fear, because we think we are the only one dealing with this.

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kevin o'reilly, original grooming experts 
 

But today, I man up. 
 
I work with a counsellor. I call my counsellor a “brain strategist.”  I have a brain.  And the chemicals in my brain go awry at times due to stress. But brain illnesses are no different than physical illnesses. 
 
In hindsight, for most of my life, I’ve lived with suicide ideation – wanting to stop the pain. Permanently.  Today, when those thoughts creep into my brain, I let them creep right back out.  I don’t let them bounce around in there and do damage.  
 
We all feel blue sometimes.  But if it lasts more than a few weeks, then man up and talk to someone. Before it gets worse.
 
Guys, let’s all keep the conversation going.
 
Thanks to Movember, we now know we are not alone.  Help is available.  And the sooner the better.
 

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