Late in the summer of 2014, I had a severe mental breakdown. It didn't come out of nowhere and there was no way to stop it. After all was said and done, I remember looking to my partner for some sort of revelation or insight. What happened, instead, was me trying to dig my way out of this massive hole, alone. He didn't say (or do) all the things every grown-ass man says when hearing "I think I should see a therapist" but, in retrospect, I understand he didn't necessarily have the tools or know-how to say or do much of anything.
I've endured bouts of depression and anxiety before and, from a young age well in my adult years, was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Generalized Anxiety (GAD), and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). When I think back to my childhood, which was often filled with turbulence and instability, it all makes sense. Complications with mental health throughout my adult life has been a real struggle that I'm always trying to navigate, so it's understandable (when this happened on that sunny September evening) that no one knew how to help me. I mean, I didn't even know how to help me.
I've been going to different therapists for many years, but had taken a hiatus sometime around the birth of my son. I thought I was doing well enough and coping, but it turns out I'd only suppressed a whole mess of things that would — you guessed it — claw their way back out of me at some point. On that day, when the world shifted so slowly and so quickly all at once, I knew it was time to get help again. Only this time, it was far more dire than in years' past.
Even if you've never had something so life-altering, you know when your own coping mechanisms no longer work and maybe, probably, it's time to see a therapist so you can work through whatever is plaguing you. Here are some things every grown-ass man says when you confide in him because, if my partner had said any of this that night as I sobbed on the floor, I might've healed that much faster.
"What Can I Do Right Now?"
I think the most basic mistake anyone makes when someone confesses something is to ask "What can I do?" And while the intention behind is great, it's such a vague question with an array of answers. Every grown-ass man should simplify the situation by asking what they can do to help right then and there. What would help in the immediate to escalate the situation (of there is one) so you'll feel at ease? Even if it's a calm conversation, it's comforting to know someone is ready and willing to do whatever is needed in the moment. If you're really stressed or anxious (like I was), you might not even have an answer. But, you'll know your partner hears you and has your back. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Now.
"Let Me Help You Look For A Therapist"
After my episode, I remember lying on the floor with my laptop in front of me. I cried for (what felt like) hours as I scoured the web for someone to make a therapy appointment with. I was overwhelmed by all the options and when I did find someone there was either no appointment available for months, or they didn't take my insurance. It was extremely frustrating. Every grown-ass man should — at the very least — offer to help narrow down the search list so you can, you know, focus on feeling better.
"I Will Drive You To Your First Appointment"
I was really nervous my first time back to therapy. It was a new place, a new therapist, and I'd gone through something traumatic. Then, I drove to this appointment many miles away, alone. I didn't have anyone to comfort me when I was finished; no one to make sure I was OK. It was a lonely experience when I was already in a lonely state of mind. A good partner should offer to go with you, drive you, and wait for you until you're finished. If it's not something you want, at least you know they cared enough to put it out there.
"I'm Proud Of You"
It's not easy to recognize you need help of any kind and sometimes, it's embarrassing to admit. Every grown-ass man should be there for his person to tell them no matter the outcome, he's proud. If my partner had done this, and said. "Yay, therapy! You rock!" I might've been able to step back for a second to see I was absolutely doing the right thing.
"I Support You"
Along with giving props for my acknowledgement of needing the help, it'd also be cool for partners to let their loved ones know of their support. Even if it's in the form of placing a hand on my shoulder, looking me in the eye, and saying nothing — the point is, we need to know we're not alone. Grown-ass men know this and do their part to show they're not going anywhere.
"I Will Do What I Can For You To Succeed"
Whether it's helping find an awesome therapist, driving you to your appointments, or simply asking if you need anything once you're home from the sessions, grown-ass men do whatever it takes to make sure you take care of yourself without the other usual worries.
For me, we had two kids, chores, bills, work, and, well, life. If my partner had stepped up more, I could've just focused on healing. Instead, I had to maneuver bettering my mental health with all of the above and that was stressful in and of itself.
"Can I Hug You?"
I can't emphasize enough, everyone is different when dealing with their mental health matters, but the one thing I wish I'd had more of through the whole process? Hugs. I didn't want to ask for them and I didn't want to beg. I just wanted my partner to see how much I was hurting and offer them. I'm not highly affectionate (except for with my kids), but I take all the hugs I can get and at the time, I needed more than what was offered.
For some, seeing a therapist is just part of everyday life. There's nothing shameful or humiliating about it. For me, in the summer of 2014, I felt it was. I was embarrassed and scared I wouldn't be able to work through my issues. But, I did. And if you're wondering the same, you will, too, with, or without, your grown-ass man's support, kudos, or hugs. This is where chocolate (or wine) comes in handy.