e2e feature story

JON B'S STORY

Growing up society taught me that depression and anxiety was a sign of weakness. It also taught me that as a male I should not cry but instead, "suck it up, man up and move on."  So as a young boy and into adulthood that is exactly what I did.  In relationships I would not voice my opinion or talk about my feelings, no matter how hurt I was.  
Five years ago I was rushed to emerge and diagnosed with meningitis.  It felt as though my world was crumbling around me and that everything was out of my control. I felt alone and scared.  In the year that followed I was isolated from the world and became a prisoner in my own room and in my own mind. I missed out on family celebrations, birthdays, my kids sports and regularly connecting with my wife. It became a daily struggle to get out of bed and a nightly struggle to sleep, in fear that I would not wake up. I was in complete darkness, figuratively and literally. The most simple tasks like, what to wear or what to eat could take me anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to comprehend and decide and usually ended in me being so overwhelmed that I would just go back to bed.  When I did pushed myself to spend more time with my wife and kids I would suffer for a few days after with migraines and pain.  I began to struggle with ways to escape the pain and I just secluded myself more and more from everyone I loved. I didn't know how to express what I was feeling. I didn't understand it and everything about it screamed weak.  The struggle of getting through the physical, mental and emotional pain made me feel like such a  failure and therefore a burden to those around me. 
Most days I would lay in bed and go through all the reasons that everyone would be better off if I was gone.  My mind tried really hard to convince me that the only way to stop the pain was to take my life.  I was able to finally, with my wife's persistence, talk to my doctor about medication for my anxiety/depression.  Unfortunately, in the beginning this took me deeper into my head because now I had proof that I was weak, because of this belief I turned to online gaming to help escape reality. This online world was great, no one was expecting anything from me and I could be whoever I wanted to be.  I made 'friends' and a new life for myself, all the while pushing those close to me away.  I began to live and breathe for this fantasy life and it consumed me. Fortunately but unfortunately I was pulled back to reality when I let this new life jeopardize my marriage.  I had to make a decision, would I rather be seen as weak and admit to all my feelings or loose my family.  I realized that I needed to step up and have courage to admit that I was not okay and need help.  I overcame the stigma and reached out to those around me and I'm so glad I did!
Since that year I have participated in couples counselling, therapy and I have openly talked about and shared my story and struggles.  I still struggle with feeling overwhelmed, being depressed, having anxiety come over me, memory loss and much more but thanks to a great support system and community I am able to face each day and know, 'it's okay not to be okay!'  I now feel safe to speak up and speak out!  I always thought it would never happen to me, I would never get to a point in my life where I would consider suicide, but IT DID and I DID!  Reach out don't let the stigmas hold you back.