Mental Health Journey || Brad, Oregon.

Brad, Oregon. Film photo taken by Birralee Hassen.

Brad, Oregon. Film photo taken by Birralee Hassen.

Tell me about your journey with mental health.


Growing up through school, I was always a little bit of the black sheep. I wasn’t very popular, and that’s fine. My parents got divorced when I was ten, and that’s I suppose where it all really started. They sent me in to a therapist for depression; actually, I don’t remember exactly what it was they sent me in for. I suspect depression. Apparently there was a little bit there in my junior high years where my parents thought I was going to be a Columbine kid. Here in America we had a fairly significant school shooting in 1999. I never thought of myself as that sort of person, but I apparently worried my parents that I was.


So that was interesting. Therapy stopped after a little bit, I don’t think it helped. It was kind of like “I don’t want to tell you everything that’s going on, I’ll just tell you the things that you want to hear to make you go away”. So that’s what I did.


About two or three years of that, and then everything settled out a little bit. I had a change of environment, I moved from Oregon, to Hawaii, which was amazing. I don’t regret that, that was awesome. It was a much better place; I was in a much better place.


Do you think the outside environment changed that? Or something internal shifted?


I think a little bit of both. There was a whole process with doing that move; I had to make a decision. It wasn’t up to me before, but this was my choice; I would be moving in with my dad.


After I graduated high school I came back to Oregon. I would have a minor bought of depression, every once in a while, as I think most people do. It’s a recurring thing. It goes away a little bit, and then it comes back. After a while of that, and desperately trying to finish school, I started to wonder, why am I always failing my classes and not doing the homework? It’s not that I don’t understand the content, it’s that I’m not doing the homework.


So I went to some of the folks at the school health centre and they diagnosed me with ADHD. That was a bit of a shock to me at twenty-eight. Usually these things get found earlier in life. Apparently my mum had hints and signs, but was always like “no, no, not Brad”. So that was only two years ago, and I’m still trying to figure that out a little bit.


My day-to-day life is better now, that I’ve figured that part out. The depression still comes and goes. Doing bike trips like these helps. I’ve kind of been saving up, I got hired at my job last year, and I made it explicit that I wanted to take a month of, and finally here I am, and I’m very excited to be doing this ride.


It’s important to have that balance, between work and looking after yourself. We need to look after our mental state the same we look after any part of our body. We eat healthy, we try to exercise, and we need to look after our minds as well.


Absolutely, it’s important stuff, and it’s often overlooked. I can’t count the number of times I’ve looked online for resources and stuff like that. Everything out there is either super religious, which isn’t me, or kind of like these canned responses of “go see a therapist”. Which, I suppose helps and all, but it’s nice to know a little bit more information about this stuff before we go see a therapist.


So where do you feel like you are on your mental health journey now, you’re in a good place?


I think so, I’m still working on it, I’m a work in progress.


As everyone is!


It will probably be that way for a long time.I think if you think you’ve figured it out, you’re kind of kidding yourself. I came to that conclusion a while ago; anyone who says that they’ve got things sorted - they’re lying! They’re trying to convince everybody else, and maybe themselves. 


Take my dad for instance; I suspect that he has major depression, among other issues. He’ll never go see anybody about it. He’s very anti going to see a therapist or anything like that.


Have you spoken with him about it?

Once or twice, and he made it very clear that he didn’t want to talk about it, or do anything about it.


I find that seems to be common, and I could be making a stereotype here, but common in the generation above us. Very “Don’t cry, don’t talk about it”.


Absolutely, my mum is not so much about that. She still does it a little bit, but not nearly as bad as my dad.


Do you think sometimes It’s a male thing? Less inclined to show your emotions.

Definitely, it’s something I deal with sometimes, that is still around even in this generation. I still feel super uncomfortable telling people what I’m thinking at any given moment. Unless it’s a professional opinion, or not relevant to my personal feelings. I still haven’t quite figured out how to deal with that. It’s an interesting problem.


I think everybody is still trying to figure it out. For me personally, I’ve found that just being honest is a good way to go about it. If you’re honest with yourself, if you’re honest with the people around you, then you cant really go wrong. What more can you do than your best

Birralee Hassen