Today’s #SameHere🤙Hero: Kyle Andrew
We introduced you all to Kyle, briefly, a few weeks ago via video. He’s the gentleman who will be hosting the #SameHere Show podcast, set to launch in the coming days. The first few episodes are phenomenal – using everyday stories to show how similar our struggles are – when we actually open up and talk about the details of our daily lives and symptoms and recognize we are far from alone. The focus is on the way in which we all face challenges – from everyday people to celebs, to influencers, and even practitioners. Kyle is no different. He has a #SameHere story of his own that brought him into this work, and we think many of you will find much of his experience will resonate. This is the first time he has shared his story in its entirety – but he shares the raw feelings of what very specific symptoms felt/still feel like. Please welcome him and follow him so that he may build on our efforts and make an enormous difference in this space: @samehereshow.
“My name is Kyle Andrew, I am 28 years old and I live with mental health conditions. I have suffer from anxiety, depression, severe OCD and most recently dissociation, including both depersonalization and derealization. The labels matter less than the causes, symptoms & solutions. These mental health conditions were & are caused by a number of my life events & experiences. A few examples of those include my parents’ divorce, a sister who battled cancer, a disabled parent, the sudden passing of close friends, injuries, illnesses and a stressful career. All of these things and much more contributed to the mental health conditions I live with today, but they have also allowed me to become more aware of the very real and silent truth that we all struggle with something.
I have survived with my mental health conditions consistently for over 14 years now. From the age of 14 when I experienced my first panic attack and episodes of OCD, to now as a successful 28 year old professional living with dissociation and working in corporate America.
For the longest time, I thought I was managing my OCD and anxiety. I thought it was just apart of who I am and oddly I was ok with that despite how frustrating it was at times. I allowed myself to ignore my issues and created distractions like skateboarding, girls, drinking and eventually, my career in professional sports and corporate America. As I kept ignoring my issues, the symptoms continued to get worse. At a young age it began with anxiety attacks. It felt like I was having a heart attack. My arms would go numb, my breathing would be get shallow, my legs weak and rapid heart rate. I was scared to go outside out of fear I would have an attack and not be near medical assistance. Then I began experiencing panic attacks. As I got into my career, I would have multiple panic attacks per day. I got so good at hiding them that I could have one while presenting in a meeting and nobody knew. Eventually this turned into depression because I was ashamed of my mental state and felt alone. It ruined three specific relationships with women I cared very deeply for. At the time of those relationships, I didn’t know how to talk about it or channel those feelings. Instead, it turned me into someone I am not. I have spent years silently regretting not seeking help sooner and wondering where my life could be now if I had. I trust and believe however that things happen for a bigger purpose.
I had been asked multiple times by those women to join them in therapy, but I was embarrassed. I felt as if I were too cool or that if they knew what I really deal with, they would leave me. Unfortunately, at the age of 27 and after years of dealing with all of my symptoms, I woke up dissociated. November 28th, 2017 is the day that changed my life forever. It was this situation that made me finally seek professional help. I was scared out of mind. I felt like an alien to my own life, I felt no emotion, I was disoriented and couldn’t think clearly. My memory (previously very strong) was terrible. I had a difficult time with names, places, faces and even feeling like my family was indeed, my family. It sounds ‘crazy,’ I know. I never knew that my symptoms could ever lead to this state of mind. It has been 11 months now, and I have been in this state ever since. I was out of work for six months, spent tens-of-thousands of dollars on medical tests, trying to figure out what was wrong with me. No physical cause was ever found.
I am now back to work at an amazing job where I am a lead product designer for a global company. I am able to feel supported by my colleagues and function at a normal pace. I am finding ways to manage and navigate this strange reality a little better every day and I have found comfort in my faith and community. However, I will not lie, there are bad days, and there are worse days. My best days are still ahead on this journey, just like Frank Sinatra said ‘The best is yet to come.’ The best thing I can do right now is share my story and use it and my experiences to create a positive message for others struggling with mental health.
This journey is just beginning for me and I am still limited in my tools to help confront my symptoms. I have been attending therapy twice a week and have learned so much about myself and mental health in general. As of right now, I have one very helpful trick that helps me when I get overwhelmed by symptoms. I sit on the ground. That’s right, no matter where I am, I find a place where the ground meets a wall and I sit against it. This act, for whatever reason grounds me and I am able to calm down enough to go on with my day. I will also say that for me personally, worshiping and praying with close friends helps me a great deal.
Those close friends and a select few know about what I have gone through and am going through today. I have not shared this information publicly until now, but I believe and pray that it will be well received and can trust in support from those around me. The truth is that we all struggle, we all have a #SameHere Story, and I think it’s time I do my part to help spread that awareness. I am extremely excited to be able to help countless others, as we launch the @samehereshow.”