In 1988, I went to Iran and Iraq as a Canadian Peacekeeper.
When I came back, I went through one of the darkest periods of my life that I had ever experienced. I hit rock bottom. There weren’t any programs to reintegrate soldiers back into their communities. There wasn’t a support system for me.
I didn’t know how to talk about what I experienced, or what I felt once I was back home. I had nightmares. I had extreme feelings of desolation and isolation. I was suffering with undiagnosed PTSD and had no understanding of how to cope with the thoughts and fears in my head. Then my wife left me and took my kids. I felt like I lost everything. I lost my family. I lost my house. I lost a little bit of myself. I attempted to take my own life.
The healing was a long process. It still is. The anxiety and depression are still there, and PTSD still creates triggers for me unexpectedly. I get through it because I talk. I talk to my family and myfriends. I talk to the Movember community, people who have similar stories to my own.
Once I started to share, I was able to begin healing and the people closest to me had the ability to be part of the process. I’m remarried now. I have a job as a police officer. I’m so thankful for all of the people in my life who let me share my story with them.
Now, I want to encourage others to share their stories too. To talk about the tough stuff, to push through it. We don’t need to be islands. We can get through this together. So many men are going through problems and think they’re alone and they’re not. They don’t have to be. If they reach out for help, or someone recognizes they need help, it’s there for them.
That’s what Movember is there for, that’s what they do.
There’s such a negative stigma around any mental illness. If someone is injured or has a disease, we support them. We need to do the same for people with mental illnesses. One of the biggest things Movember means to me is the opportunity to create change.
Maybe my story allows one other man to come forward and tell his story, so that he doesn’t have to go through it by himself. To me, that’s a success, and that’s what I’m trying to inspire.
Kevin Swain, Mo Bro since 2010
Visit Kevin's fundraising page
Kevin Swain: We should talk about the tough shit
Date: November 19th, 2016