My name is Mark Fraser and I have lived in Toronto since June of 2012. I have struggled with depression, anxiety and obsessive thought for much of my adolescent and adult life, and would like an opportunity to share my experiences with others. My story begins when I was growing up in Calgary, Alberta and when I had a very overly active imagination. I would spend a lot of time in my own head because it was a great way to escape from reality. As I got older, my focus shifted to self-analysis and I began to criticize my actions and focus on my failures instead of my accomplishments. I started to worry what other people thought of me and would constantly compare myself to others. These feelings intensified as I came to realize I was gay, and I spent a lot of energy trying to hide my sexuality. The initial struggle of coming out was difficult. I faced homophobia at my first job and developed feelings for people who could not return them. It was at this time that depression truly took root in my life and I contemplated giving up. Once I finally accepted who I was, I thought ‘coming out’ would help remove the s#*t I had built up in my head. But as I entered the local gay community, I had trouble relating to others and felt self conscious and inadequate.

As I began to meet more people my obsessive thoughts progressed and I became ‘addicted’ to the idea of  connecting with someone. I would fixate on certain individuals for days, weeks, or years on end and unconsciously sabotage potentially healthy relationships that were available. When things did not work out with my “crushes” I took everything personally and would mentally berate myself for failing. These patterns of behavior continued for prolonged periods of time and I continued to over examine things to the point where getting out of bed some days became a challenge. In addition to feeling disconnected from my community I developed a pessimistic outlook for my future and I had trouble accepting the idea that things would get better and even the smallest everyday tasks became overwhelming.

I moved to Toronto as a form of escapism and hoped things would improve, however I have discovered that a change of scenery cannot fully rectify problems with mental health and only perception and self enhancement can lead to progress.  As I continue to participate in this forum I will reflect on things I have experienced in order to develop a more optimistic perspective moving forward. For anyone out there who doesn’t fully understand depression, it is more than just sadness but rather a sense that your past, present and future are constantly colliding with each other inside your mind and every problem life presents is escalated to extreme proportions. I hope that anyone reading this, particularly gay youth, can identify with my situation and understand that depression and feelings of isolation are shared by many individuals and discussing them openly is important for maintaining mental health. At some point in their lives, everyone will experience some form of mental issue and only by creating an open dialogue can we end the stigma surrounding it.

About Mark Rob

Mark Fraser is a 30 year old man who has lived with depression, anxiety and obsessive thought for much of his adult life. Since coming out as gay in high school he's had difficulty relating to others in his community and has experienced self-doubt and a pensive outlook for his future. Mark moved to Toronto in 2012 and has become involved in Second City Improvisation classes as well as personal training in order to maintain his physical and mental health. He has expressed interest in blogging with Healthy Minds as a means of reaching out to others who feel isolated and as a way to express himself in a positive space. You can connect with Mark on Twitter or Facebook.

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