Justin’s Journey

Justin's Journey

Age 28

Justin first experienced mental health issues in his teens, but never sought help until the past year’s challenges brought him close to crisis.

DOUBLE IMPACT
1. DOUBLE IMPACT
Over the past year Justin felt the impact of both the global pandemic and nationwide protests highlighting systemic racism. “It was a double-whammy of living through COVID’s disproportionate impact on communities of color, and demonstrations across the country drawing attention to the racism and inequities my community lives with every day. On top of that I felt cut off from everything I usually did to relieve stress in my life, like going to the gym or getting together with family and friends.”
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FEELING OVERWHELMED
2. FEELING OVERWHELMED
Justin struggled with feelings of anxiety and depression since his teens but never received mental health support. “Looking back, I wish I’d gotten help when I was younger so I could’ve learned the skills to manage my emotions better. I’d gotten by for years dealing with it on my own, until last summer when I started to feel overwhelmed as crises seemed to keep coming one after another. I’m the oldest of my cousins and nieces and nephews so I felt pressure to be a strong role model for them, but I was nearing my breaking point.”
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NEARING CRISIS
3. NEARING CRISIS
It came to a head when Justin was on a video chat with his mother and the topic came up of a recent attack on a Black man in their city. “Suddenly the weight of everything that was on my mind became too much. I couldn’t talk and felt my eyes filling with tears. My mom was patient but persistent until I shared with her about what I was feeling. She had a brother who struggled with depression his whole life but never got treatment, and she didn’t want me to go through the same thing.”
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BREAKING THE PATTERN
4. BREAKING THE PATTERN
Justin wasn’t sure where to turn for support but knew he had to do something. “There’s a persistent stigma around seeking mental health support generally, but especially among Black men because we tend to think it makes us look weak or incapable of handling our own problems. It finally clicked that, if I was trying to be a good example to the younger kids in my family, then trying to ‘power through’ was just repeating a harmful pattern they might also follow.”
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REACHING OUT
5. REACHING OUT
After talking with his mother, Justin called a local crisis line that offers referrals to community mental health resources. “Talking to the crisis line counselor was hard at first, but after a few minutes it felt really good to just let it all out and be honest about what was going on inside my head. They got me in touch with a virtual support group for Black men and it’s been validating to hear other people talk about going through similar things. I also saw a doctor who prescribed medication that’s really helped.”
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HAPPIER AND HEALTHIER
6. HAPPIER AND HEALTHIER
“I’m feeling a lot better these days and can only say I wish I’d gotten help sooner. I still have difficult moments but now I’ve developed a support system and skillset to help me get through my tougher days. I still watch the news and keep up with what’s going on in the world, now I just feel better equipped to manage my reaction to anything that makes me feel anxious or depressed. I also talk openly about my experience in the hopes that it will help someone I care about recognize when they should reach out.”
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