Today’s #SameHere Hero: Brian Wilkinson (Personally I am very proud of this guy for sharing his story. I witnessed some of his self-medicating behavior and also passed it off as just “Brian being Brian” before I knew any better about mental health, and what experiences often bring about substance abuse.) I think his brutal honesty is awesome and is going to help so many others in similar situations.
“My father died suddenly when I was only 19 years old, almost immediately after graduating high school. I then headed to college and because of my newfound freedom, it was easy for me to mask the pain of my loss w other self-destructive activities. Things really started spiraling out of control.
I began self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. My behavior was easily overlooked and accepted amongst my peers as merely youthful exuberance. Even after I graduated and began working, this was the entertaining character my friends came to know and how I “fit in” to my group. I continued participating in a good amount of this behavior as it helped dull some of the emotional pain I hadn’t fully worked through.
Unlike some others who may go through something similar, my path towards a healthier life didn’t come from me asking for help on my own. I was so lucky to have someone incredible come into my life (we often need to accept the help others think we need). This help was kind of forced upon me by my amazing girlfriend (now wife in the picture with me ). Her support and understanding had been amazing when I felt I couldn’t talk to anybody else about what I was feeling.
The birth of our daughter and knowing the responsibility that I had to take care of someone else, was the deciding factor for me to continue getting help and cleaning up.
Remaining clean and healthy physically and mentally is an ongoing process; something I work at every day. I definitely feel at my best when I stick to a rigid schedule which incorporates exercise and eating right (I myself am a chef and make sure I eat healthy). I realized I need to take care of myself to be able to fully take care of my family.
I recently sat next to a woman on a plane who wasn’t able to stop her daughter from taking her own life. This woman just needed someone to talk to…and hearing that story, I knew that if telling my story publicly like this could help others, and prevent the types of tragedies like that woman and her daughter went through, then it was worth opening up. So, #SameHere …and good luck to everyone.