Wes had a tumultuous childhood. Between kindergarten and eighth grade, he had been enrolled in 12 different schools. He moved states frequently. He wasn’t able to make friends. Holding down a relationship of any kind is hard when you’re constantly moving.
It was just Wes and his mom. His mom treated him more like a friend than a child. When he was 10, he saw Pulp Fiction in theaters with his mom. I mean, it’s not like he had a rough childhood, although he had been exposed to things a little too early in life. He has a strong relationship with his mother to this day, and will tell you nothing but good things about his childhood.
As an adult, in and out of relationships, he could feel his mental health waning. When the relationships ended —crazy endings, every one of them— he could tell he was struggling. The first break up was the hardest. It was his first long term relationship. He was seeing a future with her that ended with them having a family. He was invested. When the breakup happened, he was lost. It was the first time something had rocked his foundation. He sought out therapy because he recognized that this was way worse than anything he had ever dealt with. It was tangible grief.
He’s always been a fan of therapy. As a man, there was a stigma around therapy, but when his friend casually brought up that he was seeing a therapist, he felt like he had a cosign to see one, too. Seeing a therapist helped him unpack trauma from his younger years and make connections to the way he reacts and acts now. It helped build a strong foundation for himself, so the next time the heartbreak hit, he was strong enough to cope. He is still seeing his therapist, making it 10 years of hard work he’s put into bettering himself. The breakups caused heartbreak, but they also created growth.
When he got a diagnosis for his mental illness, he felt frustrated. “It was hard to accept because it defined the obstacle.” He didn’t want to be pinned down to an illness. He spent 8 years in therapy without medication, and it helped. Through years of life, including love, heartbreak, and other traumatic events, he then felt the need to look into medication. The way he looks at it, not everyone mentally unwell needs medication. If you need medication, by all means, take medication. For him, he wanted to be sure he exhausted all options before taking meds. Wes sees it as an internal and external factor. “I always solve a problem at the lowest level. Escalating to medication, for me, meant I have exhausted everything internally before I seek help externally.”
While medication and therapy have helped and continue to help, he knows that being able to understand what he’s going through has helped the most. “I need to understand why I’m feeling certain ways and deal with triggers. The awareness is the most important part.”
At the end of the day, Wes wants men to know that they aren’t alone in this — heartbreaks and mental illness. He gets what you’re going through. And while he’s willing to be open about his mental health, it’s still difficult with some family and friends. But he knows it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and he’ll get there.