Being a guy myself, it's not like I haven't covered this topic before on the show, however given recent events politically and socially, I'm glad that these recent episodes are helping to shine light on the male side of mental health and being a survivor of trauma. We are truly all in this together, regardless of gender, and the more we continue to bring this out into the open, the more we chip away at the stigma and shame of reaching out for help.
In episode 89, I talked with Andrea Schneider LCSW about overcoming shame, feeling alienated in regards to the #metoo movement, and reaching out for professional help as a male survivor of trauma.
My guest here on episode 90, fellow podcaster, advocate for men's mental health, and friend Al Levin.
"I’m an assistant principal in a public elementary school. I’ve been in education for nearly twenty years. I’m married and have four children. I’ve recently completed all of the coursework in working towards a Co-Active coaching certificate through the Coaches Training Institute. The coaching work has allowed me to support the staff I work with in the public schools, as well as others who are seeking support in reaching their goals or working past challenging times in their lives.
I am also a person who has recovered from a major depressive disorder, an illness that was quite debilitating for nearly six months of my life. Through this experience, I have become very passionate about learning more about mental health and supporting others with a mental illness, particularly men with depression. In addition to this blog, I speak publicly for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and I tweet @allevin18."
Al's podcast, The Depression Files, and his advocacy work focuses primarily on men's mental health and specifically with depression, along with encouraging men to open up and seek help when their depression reaches a level where thoughts of suicide begin to surface. Al Levin himself was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and knows first hand what's like to wake up in the middle of night contemplating ways to take his life, feeling like a burden on his family and society, and living life completely consumed by depression.
His website, also outlines more of his story of "how everything seemed to be going well, yet everything seemed to come crashing down." Which is precisely the topic of our conversation on the podcast. I wanted to chat with Al because his story is one that so many men and women today can relate too. A guy who's life was seemingly humming along; good job, hard work paying off with a new promotion, loving wife and family, good friends, yet something lurking in the background and beginning to surface that he didn't expect.
During the podcast you'll learn how:
In 2010, Al received the promotion he had been working so hard towards, but once he took on the new responsibilities, everything began to change and his was slowly but surely being turned upside down. The stresses of late hours, budget constraints, managing staff, and oversized classes began to take its toll. He was running on adrenaline more often than not, not sleeping well or eating properly, and not communicating with his wife, family, and friends.
How those events translated into seeking help from his family doctor and starting on medications to help with a new diagnosis of depression.
As things began to continue spiraling down, affecting his job, family, and friendships, thoughts of suicide began to surface.
How waking up in the middle of the night after dreaming of ways to take his own life, prompted him to talk with his wife and family and seek the help of a mental health professional.