In their words…Bill T.
We have come to learn just how much men appreciate reading/listening to the stories of other men who have dealt with depression, anxiety, and the challenges that go along with these conditions. I have reached out to the 140 men who attend our support groups and asked them if they would be willing to share a story that was important to them that relates to the struggles they have had. I have made no edits to the content of what they wrote and the words that follow are those of the man who wrote them. Today I am sharing the story written by Bill T which you find below.
My family of origin had many secrets and powerful family rules, for evident, if not good, reason.
On my father’s side, sexual abuse, of his older, (ironically favored) brother, by their father. Older brother went on to abuse many if not all of his children. Grandfather abused me and my younger sister. Fortunately, we did not carry on that particular family tradition. My father carried on affairs with other women throughout much of his marriage to my mother.
On my mother’s side, alcoholism ran very strongly, contributing to domestic violence and it took one sister many years ago, as well as her father.
In my immediate family, one rule was that nothing personal was ever discussed. Until I was about 35 years old, I believed that emotions had no importance. I learned otherwise almost by accident.
My mother had developed alcoholism in her 50’s, and I wanted to help her. I began researching the disease, which led me to the Johnson Institute, one of the early pioneers in the treatment of alcoholism. I interviewed one of their counselors, who saw far more in me than I could have realized. Tears come as I think of what that simple interview led to.
At that time, the issue was not being discussed within the family, so it was just me. I was fortunate to have a supportive employer, and the counselor recommended that I attend the Family Week portion of the treatment program at Abbot Northwestern Hospital. I would be the sole participant there with no family member in the program. In that very first group session with family members, I saw the flow of raw emotion coming from people who had been hurt by alcoholism, and I mark my life from that point. That’s when I began to understand myself and my life and what life could be like.
I participated in the whole week, Monday through Friday, and I came out of it wanting to remake every relationship in my life. That was 40 years ago, and all of those years have been a journey of growth and healing. I have had individual therapy, group therapy, I have been active in 12-Step groups, self-help groups, I have tried many medications, and may I say I’m a much different person than I was or than I would have been without all that. As much pain as I have suffered, and there has been a lot, I would not have the level of empathy and understanding that I do if I had not gone through those trials.
Please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or thoughts and I will pass them along to Bill T.