Joshua Kumar: 'I want to be that light for someone else to rely on.'

Author: Movember
"When I was in high school a good friend of mine had an older brother who was diagnosed with testicular cancer. I wanted to get involved in any way possible, so I did some research and came across Movember. The first year I wasn’t too heavily involved in raising funds I just wanted to get an understanding of what testicular cancer was, how to cure it and really just advance my knowledge with Movember. My family has always been heavily involved in fundraising and I decided it was time to branch out and find something on my own that I could be part of. After doing my research, I informed my parents of Movember and they explained, both my grandfather and uncle suffered from prostate and colon cancer. After hearing that, Movember really hit home. Over the years, I have learned of so many men that I look up to, that are affected by prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health issues.  
About two-years-ago, I lost a family friend and neighbor to suicide. I barely knew him, but when my dad called to tell me, it drew tears to my eyes. I have friends who have experienced depression, and know of families who have lost loved ones to depression.

For the first time in my life, I finally feel comfortable to say that I have experienced depression. Not in a severe form, but it was apparent in my life.

I had the strongest support system. My parents had been happily married for 20 years, I had two beautiful sisters who constantly push me in the right direction every day and I had the best friend group anyone could ask for, but my freshman year of high school seemed to be a tough transition for me. I questioned my purpose every day. There was no reason for these thoughts. It wasn’t a long period of time, but there was this fog in my head. It wasn’t more than a couple of weeks. I finally woke up one morning and realized I needed a change of pace. There wasn’t a single thing that changed besides my mindset and perspective on life. That day I woke up and made the goal that in four years I would graduate high school and win the senior award as the "Sweetest Personality." In 2012, a friend of mine approached me and told me that I was voted by my class for that award. Those four years of high school, I set goals to be a happier person, to make people smile, to make people laugh and to be there when someone needed a shoulder to cry on.  
People sometimes ask me why I am so happy and I never really had an answer. Now I do.  I am happy to be alive. I am happy to see new faces. I am happy to talk to new people. I am happy to eat breakfast. I am happy to drink my coffee. 
The main reason I didn't want to share my story was because I didn’t want my friends and family to think they were failing me.  It was a mental challenge that I was personally experiencing. I was also scared because I never wanted people to judge me for this part of my life. I didn’t want to be looked at eight years later as the kid who had an unstable mind, but being a part of Movember has made me realize that by opening up, talking about what’s going on with me and more importantly sharing my story may help others open up. It's nothing to be ashamed of. 
I want to be that light for someone else to rely on.

As a man, I always thought I had to be this tough guy that didn’t show emotion. My dad came to me one day and said, "I finally realized that it is okay for a man to cry." That was what I needed. I talk openly about this now because I know that if it saves one person, then my voice has been heard.

Men, speak up. Our lives are already short enough, don’t make it harder on yourself. If you need help, find it. If you even think someone needs to talk, ask a simple question, “How are you doing?” and when they start to tell you they’re doing alright ask, “How are you actually doing?” - Put in the extra effort.   
I am open to questions, I am open to talk, and I am always open to hear someone else’s story." 

- Joshua Kumar