Hello! Who are you?
Hi, my name is Mark Joseph. I am a 32-year-old living in St. Louis, MO.
I work as a digital marketer and love my job because it is something I am passionate about.
I like to take long walks with my dogs, explore new places, read books, and stay active in my free time.
I am happily married to my wife, and we have built an incredible life together filled with love, adventure, and laughter. I am content and strive to make the most out of every day. My biggest aspirations are to continue learning, travel the world, and create memories with the people I love. All in all, I feel happy and grateful for the life I have.
I'm continually looking for ways to grow as an individual and positively contribute to the world around me. To do this, it is important to stay open-minded, curious, and appreciative of every experience that comes my way.
That's why I remain optimistic and strive to make the most out of every moment. After all, life is a beautifully imperfect journey filled with many lessons to be learned and cherished. I'm excited to see what else it has in store for me.
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What is your struggle and when did it start?
I have struggled with severe depression and anxiety for the past 7 years. This disorder is more formally known as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), and its symptoms include persistent sadness, fatigue, hopelessness, guilt, worthlessness, and difficulty concentrating or making decisions.
The onset of my depressive episodes began when I was 25 years old. At the time, I moved to a new city and had to adjust to the change. I was experiencing social isolation, academic pressure, and relationship issues that all combined to contribute to my mental health struggles. As time passed, these issues only compounded as I struggled with feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness.
This struggle has been persistent over the years but is different each time. Some days I feel completely overwhelmed, while other days are filled with moments of joy. Even though it has been a difficult journey, I have learned to recognize the signs of my depression and anxiety so that I can take steps to manage it better.
I am grateful for my progress thus far, but I continue to work on my mental health daily. I take medication, practice yoga and mindfulness, attend therapy and counseling sessions regularly, and stay connected with friends and family.
All these steps have allowed me to better manage my depression and anxiety in a way that works for me. It isn't easy, but I am determined to keep moving forward.
How did this struggle make you feel at your worst moments?
At my worst moments, my depression and anxiety made me feel completely hopeless. I felt like no matter how hard I tried, nothing would ever get better. It was difficult to understand why this was happening to me, which only added to my frustration.
My mental health struggles had a clear impact on my happiness and well-being. I was constantly exhausted, felt isolated, and couldn't bring myself to engage in activities I used to enjoy. It was obvious to those around me that something wasn't right, but I tried to hide it from them as much as possible.
I was embarrassed by my feelings and didn't want anyone to know how much pain I was in, so I often put on a brave face. Even on my worst days, I tried to make it look like everything was okay when I felt anything but deep down.
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Was there a moment when you started to turn things around?
The turning point came when I finally realized I was not alone in my struggles. After years of trying to cope, I reached out and asked for help. This meant admitting to myself and others that I needed support and finding the courage to accept it.
Seeking professional help was a major part of my journey. With the help of therapists and mental health professionals, I understood more about how my depression and anxiety worked and what I could do to manage them better.
My progress was also a result of my actions. I adopted healthy coping mechanisms like yoga and mindfulness, which helped me stay present and manage my emotions. I also connected with friends and family, even when it was too much effort.
I was able to turn things around after about 7 years of struggling. It took me a long time to recognize that there were steps I could take to make significant improvements in my mental health. Once I did, I was committed to doing the work and seeing it through.
What steps did you take to overcome your struggle?
I did a few things that can help someone overcome a similar type of struggle. The first step I took to overcome I struggled to recognize that it existed in the first place. This meant acknowledging and accepting that my mental health issues were real and needed to be addressed, even if it felt difficult.
I sought professional help from a therapist and trusted them enough to share my struggles. My therapist helped me identify triggers and provided coping strategies and tools to use when I felt overwhelmed. They also helped me to recognize my strengths and build on them.
I learned the importance of creating healthy habits like exercise, eating well, getting enough rest, and taking time for myself. This was crucial in managing my mood and energy levels and allowing me to focus on the things that were important to me.
Finally, I cultivated strong relationships with people who supported and cared for me. Surrounding myself with people who understood my struggles was invaluable in overcoming them. I found it helpful to talk through my experiences and build on the things that made me feel good about myself.
That said, it's also important to practice self-care. Taking time for yourself, even if it's just a few minutes each day, can help you feel more grounded and connected with yourself. Whether going for a walk, reading a book, or getting creative, taking the time to do something that brings joy and peace is a great way to manage stress and find balance.
It's also important to remember that it's okay not to be okay all the time; give yourself grace, practice self-compassion, and know that you are worthy of love and support.
By doing this, I have found strength in acknowledging my mental health struggles and accepting that it's part of who I am. Although there are days when I feel overwhelmed, I know that it's not permanent and that I can manage my emotions. Taking the time to connect with myself and others has been one of the most important things I have done to help me get through difficult times.
Have you shared any of this with people around you in real life?
Yes, I have shared much of this with people around me. At first, it was difficult to open up and discuss my mental health struggles with anyone, especially those closest to me. I felt that friends and family might not understand what I was going through or be able to relate to it in any way. I was also scared of being judged or labeled.
Eventually, however, I found the courage to be open with them; they were incredibly supportive. My wife has been exceptionally understanding and supportive, which made it much easier to talk to her about my experiences.
I felt uncomfortable talking to my colleagues about my struggles, as I worried it might affect how they perceived me. As such, I kept the details of my mental health journey primarily to myself at work. However, I did share with some of my close colleagues when the situation warranted. For instance, if I needed to take a few days off for appointments or to take care of myself, I was open about it. This helped create an environment where mental health issues could be openly discussed.
I still find it hard to openly share my mental health struggles with someone. It takes courage and vulnerability to be honest about your feelings, and I’m still learning to do that. However, I’m grateful for the support of my friends and family, who have made it easier to talk about difficult topics.
If you could give a single piece of advice to someone else that struggles, what would that be?
I advise someone struggling to reach out for help and support. It can feel overwhelming, but it's important to remember that you are not alone. There are people around you who care about your well-being and want to help. Whether it's a close friend, family member, or professional therapist, it is important to talk to someone and share your struggles.
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself that it's okay to ask for help and that it's not a sign of weakness. Too often, we are ashamed or embarrassed about our mental health difficulties, but it's important to remember that everyone goes through hard times. It's okay to reach out and get the help you need.
Don't be afraid to open up and talk about your experiences; it can make all the difference in managing your emotional well-being. With the proper support, anything is possible.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, YouTube channels, or other resources for you?
I read a book by Dan Harris called 10% Happier, which resonated with me. It talks about how we can be more mindful and present in our everyday lives, even when times are tough. The book was full of practical techniques that I could put into practice to help manage my mental health struggles.
The best part was that the book didn’t feel like a “self-help” book; it felt like Harris was talking with me and sharing his own experiences. This made it easier to connect with him, which ultimately helped me learn how to manage my emotions better.
I also found great support through online forums such as Reddit. These forums allow people to share their stories and give advice, which can be incredibly helpful. I found it particularly useful to read about the experiences of others dealing with similar issues; knowing that you’re not alone in your struggles can be powerful.
Where can we go to learn more about you?
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