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Alliance Profile – Nicholas Cunningham

Alliance Profile – Nicholas Cunningham

Nicholas Cunningham

Long-time performer, dancer, choreographer for a number of Broadway shows, including most recently, The Phantom of the Opera

What past life experiences, physical traumas or genetics do you believe have had an effect on your mental health?

There is a long line of alcoholism and depression in my family, from both sides. I’ve inherited those genes. Growing up in the household of an alcoholic has definitely had ramifications. Learning to deal with the ‘uncertainty of behavior’ from a young age is something that has affected me long term.

 

How did the effects on your mental health appear in terms of symptoms?

I think my symptoms grew over a long period of time, they weren’t instant and I certainly didn’t notice them straight away.  They started appearing much later in life, which was when I decided to face them. That was when I realized there was a lot of work to be done. There were many years of self-suppressing to unravel.

 

When and why did you decide to ask for help to get relief?

I decided to get help six months into my sobriety, as I had abstained from all drugs and alcohol without the help of a program. I had succeeded up to that point, but after six months of meditation, and self care, and work, I realized that doing this alone wasn’t the way. I asked from help, and started therapy. I’ve been once a week, almost every week for two years. It has saved me from a relapse and I’ve learned that a lot of my substance abuse and alcohol addiction came from and is related to my mental health.

 

What methods helped you individually get/feel better?

Self compassion. A daily practice that comes and goes. But this is the MOST important way of dealing with the fact that we are human. We make mistakes, we don’t always look 100%, we get busy, swamped, tired, worn out, but you know what? We are all survivors. We have to show ourselves compassion and say “Well, this is how I look/feel/am today, and I love every inch of it…” which gives you space to go out and be the best version of yourself you can possibly be. I find it difficult at times, especially through those moments of despair. But dig deep and find love for yourself. You are doing great.
On top of looking inward, I often look for help by sharing stories of survival and creating a community around myself. It is a good way to feel less alone, or lonely. Two things which can lead to a place where you don’t want to live. I continue to surround myself with my good people and I continue to nurture friendships by finding love within them. This will bring self awareness to how you are feeling and how your mental health really is. Often the people we surround ourselves with, are a reflection of our souls.

 

Why did you decide to go public with your story? Who were/are you hoping to help and how?

To help people who feel alone. I know exactly how dark it can be. I know the monster inside. I know how cavernous that cave can be. But there is light. By sharing my story I hope to help one person come out of the dark. I will continue to encourage people to be capable, strong and fearless. I really hope to help those people who struggle with addiction and alcoholism and the relationship those two things have with mental health.

 

How did people react when you went public with your story?

Love. I was showered with an overwhelming amount of love. I held myself accountable and shared a video online three years ago. I woke the next day to 400 + messages of support and love. It was that day I knew I had made the right decision to change my life. Three years later, I’m sharing my story with you, #SameHere!

 

Links and/or descriptions to any of your own personal resources you would like to share with the Global Mental Health Community:

If you are in the NYC area, two great places to find help with your mental health are IHI Therapy Center and GMHC.