Hello! Brian here. I work with my talented wife Allison to help the Own Your Stigma community share their stories and be advocates for mental health & wellness.
I’m 39 and I’ve struggled with anxiety for most of my life; I just didn’t realize that until a few years ago. In University, my insomnia started. I don’t remember lying awake because of feeling “worried” about particular things, I just couldn’t turn my mind off. OTC and prescription sleeping pills were short term fixes.
5 years into my professional career; my responsibilities at work increased. So did my anxiety. My colleagues always said “you’re always so calm and collected, Brian, no matter how busy we are”. Trying to reconcile how people saw me with how I was feeling was unsettling. I contacted our company Employee Assistance Program and talked to a few professionals in-person and over the phone, but didn’t stick with it.
Having two young children naturally made the insomnia worse (which usually happens for anyone when you’re raising young humans). I continued to dabble in therapy and sleeping medications from a new family doctor.
I had a turning point in my professional life and realized how much anxiety was affecting me, including being a husband, father and friend. In October 2017, I asked my family doctor to try an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor). Looking back at my history, my Doctor agreed.
Since then, I've been taking medication and getting physical exercise everyday. The results have been life changing. I have tried, and failed so far, at practicing daily meditation as well as limiting the use of my phone around bedtime. Those are works in progress.
I am fortunate that my mental illness didn’t cause me or my loved ones debilitating harm. I know that’s not true for many. The anxiety caused by navigating daily life and its challenges (especially my work) required me to spend nearly all of my energy, leaving nothing for the rest of my life. Medication and exercise has helped me change that.
I am grateful to be a part of this community. I am humbled by people’s stories of the challenges they have faced in their battles with unseen illnesses.