Ryan recently went through a breakup that affected him deeply post breakup, giving him insight on how to deal with a breakup as a man.
And just like that, in what was one of the most mentally challenging times of my life.
The person I wanted to turn too wasn’t there anymore.
My name is Ryan Forsyth. First and foremost, I’m a mental health speaker, fundraiser and advocate. I’m also the host of the Life in Red Podcast, and I work in radio doing marketing, contesting and events. I love sports and music, and I live with a mental illness.
I’ve been suffering from anxiety since I was 14 and have been suffering from depression since I was 16. When I was 21, I tried to take my own life, and this was the most challenging time in my life since then.
This pandemic has been tough on everyone, and I’m no different. I have spent the last years building a proactive approach and routine. To manage my mental health in a positive way, I’d go through this daily checklist.
- wake up
- make my bed
- eat the same thing for breakfast
- go to work
- go to the gym
- work on my external projects
- go to bed
Ryan goes over the 5 steps he used to get over his heartbreak that happened during the COVID pandemic , 2020.
Weekends were a little looser, but in general, that was my day to day life for the last 3 years.
When COVID-19 decided to flip the world upside down, I transitioned to work from home. The gyms closed, and we were no longer able to see our friends or loved ones in person.
That included not seeing my girlfriend.
Now don’t get me wrong, a lot of people had it worse. They lost their jobs, they lost loved ones to the virus. By and large, other than losing my typical day to day, my life didn’t change that much. What I want you to understand is living with anxiety and depression, that routine kept me going every day.
With all that gone, I was left in a spiral of loneliness, emptiness and in a constant state of worry. I worried about my job, about my friends and family, about the world, and about my relationship.
I could barely eat without feeling sick. I was losing motivation for exercise and not sleeping well.
Right in the middle of all this going on, my girlfriend of a year and a half split up. Now, this is not a hate piece. These things happen, I have nothing but love, admiration and respect for her. I will always cherish the memories we made, it’s just that sometimes things don’t work out and that’s okay.
What I’m writing about is the freeing feeling of being vulnerable. After this happened, I was in a constant state of shock and sadness. I couldn’t stop crying. I was absent from social media. Being involved with the things I am, I get a lot of messages on mental health, podcast inquiries or collaboration requests.
I could see them coming in, but I didn’t have the energy or will to respond to them. So, I put out a tweet to answer those who were messaging me and something I could forward to people when they reached out to.
My gf and I broke up earlier this week. Time will pass & it will get easier, but I'm in a great amount of pain right now.— Ryan Forsyth (@BigredRyan01) May 8, 2020
Everything I do reminds me of her.
I can't speak out loud without crying.
If I haven't replied to your message, I promise I will. I just can't right now.
I try to balance my social media with the good and the bad for those who don’t know me. I’ve been candid on there, especially when it comes to my mental health. So I had no issues putting out exactly how I was feeling about this.
Social media gets a lot of negative feedback, and I don’t deny all the nasty things that happen there. But, when it comes to sharing my feelings and story on it, I’ve always been incredibly blown away by the response. Not only my friends but from people I barely know and complete strangers.
I’m not going to lie, of course, part of the reason I put things out on social media, is because I want people to message me.
I always feel like I'm alone, and this really helps remind me I am not.
After a few days of trying to work through the breakup, I knew I couldn’t take care of myself as I should. I went back to my parents and stayed the weekend, allowing myself to be the mess that I was. I didn’t want to hold back and eat any of my feelings, there was a good chance they would surface somewhere down the road.
I was devastated.
After a few days, I was finally able to talk about it again. I allowed myself to feel my feelings out and talk about them to my family and my therapist. After the weekend, I started to put back the pieces. I followed up with another post.
For the last three years, making my bed has been a massive part of my routine to help my mental health. I watched a viral video on Facebook of a Navy Seal Admiral talking about making his bed. Ever since then, I’ve done my best to start my morning by completing this task.
During the time I was grieving, I didn’t do it. I allowed myself to do nothing literally. But on the first Monday back to work, I made my bed. I did nothing else towards my regular routine, but I was able to get that one task done. Tomorrow, I would try to do more.
From that point forward, things started to get better at a more rapid rate than I anticipated. Part of that was no doubt the weather. I live in Ottawa, Canada. This is often the coldest capital city in the world where we have long, cold and snowy winters. Luckily for me, this was the warmest start to May we’ve had since the 1800s.
"I was outside a lot. Going for walks, listening to music (yeah, some were heartbreak tunes) and podcasts."
Soon I found I was able to start exercising again. From there, my mood started drastically improving.
After months of putting your energy into a person and relationship that one day goes away. Where do you put that extra time and drive?
I decided to put it into myself. I hadn’t been on a bike since I was 16, but I decided to take advantage of a summer sale and get a bike. Ottawa has excellent bike paths that go along the river and through nature, so it’s been a great experience to free my mind.
I also went and bought a basketball to play at a school court near my apartment. I used to LOVE basketball, I’d play for hours with my friends or in front of my house growing up. I had lost touch since I was an adult, so I started going out for 30-40 minutes with my headphones on and played around.
Read more about how exercise will help your anxiety and depression in our blog
Before I knew it, I had developed a new routine that involved being active for 2-3 hours a day, spending a lot of it outside. I felt fantastic for the first time in a LONG time.
Then, like I always do, I shared how I was feeling.
When it comes to my mental illness, there are a lot of peaks and valleys. I rely on routine so much to mitigate the damage a low will do and help it from getting “too” low. Right now, there’s no doubt I’m at the top of a peak. And I’ve been at the top of this peak for the better part of 3 weeks. I honestly can’t remember the last time that happened.
So what’s the message of all this?
Exercise? Buy a Bike? Cry? I guess it’s a little of all those things.
Us humans are all incredibly complex individuals. I think we all get caught up trying to simplify what we are and how we feel. My belief has always been to make myself vulnerable and be authentic in the way I feel. Showing others, it’s okay to feel things.
That’s not to say I don’t try and learn or get better every day, because I do. I work damn hard at it.
Too often, feeling sad, depressed or angry goes against what we’re taught to be.
All those are extremely important, but I think the world could do with a little openness and vulnerability, especially from men.
Vulnerability and speaking about your feelings don’t make you weak; they make you stronger.
You are no longer carrying around this weight of guilt, shame or sadness, and it frees us to be the people we are meant to be. We’ve watched “strong” characters in our favourite movies and TV shows for years. How many of them expose their flaws or have breakdowns from something they’re holding in?
Does that really make them stronger?
It doesn't have to be public or on social media. You don't have to write a long article about it...Just talk to someone.
Your friend, your partner, your parents, a therapist, someone you can trust. If someone opens up to you, listen and don’t judge. Don’t try to fix it or offer solutions unless they ask.
Once we all start being more honest with ourselves and those around us. We can truly grow into the people were meant to be.
That’s all I’m trying to do.
How To Deal With A Breakup As A Man - Mental Help Monday's Interview
Ryan joined our founder for a sit down to discuss his breakup and how he found his way to move forward in a more in-depth conversation. Learn how to deal with a break as a man, put this 35 minute chat on in the background and take some actionable advice today.
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