Men’s Health Week: How Healthy Habits Saved Me From Life As an Anxiety Rat

Warning: This article deals with the topics of anxiety and depression and may be triggering for some readers.

My dudes, over the years, I have written a lot about my mental health. I have written from the pits of self-hating tar. I have written words about panic attacks. I have spent the last eight years detailing my mental health climbs. 

Yet, on this International Men’s Health Week, things are pretty chill for me. While I’ll never be cured of my anxiety disorder, I am slaying the game. My therapy and meds are working. I’m proof that life can get better.

The theme of this Men’s Health Week is Healthy Habits. It’s all about encouraging men to make sustainable life changes that will improve their wellbeing.

Now, this year’s theme sparked some introspection for me. ‘Cause if I didn’t have any healthy habits, I’d be a rat covered in corn chips. Here’s why.

My Mental Health Habits

In 2015, I didn’t have a single mental health habit. I’d bottle my fears, not discuss my anxieties, and live off adrenaline. What’s more, I liked living habitless. Every habit felt like a cage.

However, this way of living wasn’t sustainable. Each month or so, I would car crash into my feelings. I would weep, cry, and break in ways that would scare my partner, my friends, and myself. 

To be honest, I can’t remember which implosion caused me to get therapy. All of them are now a big blur. I think that was a part of the problem. 

But to therapy I went. What followed was a trial of habits.

Over the years, I had to get in the habit of having honest chats with my therapist. I had to do the homework they set. I had to do some exposure therapy, not fixate on getting dirt off my fingers, even when I didn’t want to.

What’s more, these habits didn’t result in a journey of flawless growth. Some days were better than other days. Some months were better than other months. Some years were better than other years.

However, over time, these habits eventually slapped. My therapist and I are now open books. I kill the homework they set me. I regularly do things I once thought were impossible. 

At one point, I thought habits were a cage. But in 2023, my habits have freed me from being worried all of the time.

My dudes, if your mental health is currently rubbish, things can get better. I promise you, today and tomorrow aren’t forever. Good luck.

Related: Therapy Speak Isn’t Making Us Selfish — It’s a Tool

Related: My Dudes, There’s No Shame in Taking Meds or Going to Therapy for Your Mental Health

If this article brings up any issues for you or anyone you know, or you think you may be experiencing depression or need support with your mental health, please contact your GP or in Australia, contact Lifeline (13 11 14), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800) or Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636), all of which provide trained counsellors you can talk with 24/7.

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