I had severe struggles with mental health issues in my teens and early 20s. For years, I remember not being able to conceive of a future - I certainly couldn’t have imagined being alive at aged 30.
Over time, aspects of my life changed that moved me to a healthier place. Transitioning helped me to feel more comfortable in my own skin. I found a community of people who listened and accepted me completely - that was really important. My family came around (not overnight) and having that base of support really helped. Also getting involved in trans activism - I had a drive to make the world a better place and create a space for me. It was about a connection to something bigger than myself.
Mental health isn’t something that you just get cured of and never have to think about it again. It can come up at any time. I think sometimes people look at me and think ‘he's never had to struggle’ but there are dark days. I know that there may be a mental health issue around the corner: there's that looming possibility.
There are a few ways I try to take care of my mental health. I like to go places that give me a sense of space. I enjoy heading out to Howth and walking along that cliff walk, breath in the clean air and be close to the vastness of the sea. That helps with a sense of perspective - I get to reconnect, and I feel more myself.
I know exercise is good for me. My job involves long hours and a lot of rushing and drinking all of the coffee in the world. Exercise is hard for me to do, but it clears my mind. Once I get myself to the gym, it’s better.
I'm learning to choose my battles. Lots of things in the world can seem overwhelming: transphobia, Syria, Trump - the world can appear bleak at times. I'm careful about the critical or anxious voice in me - either could bring me down.
I’m kinder to myself these days. I know I’m not perfect. I have my faults, and some I’m working on and some I just accept as who I am right now. I have things I’m good at and things I’m less good at, and that’s okay. I don't want to be my harshest critic.
I know I'm lucky with the friends in my life. They know me really well, and whether they're teasing me or supporting me, I know they have my back. I can be vulnerable and open with them. And they keep me grounded.
Broden Giambrone is a Canadian trans man living in Dublin. He is Chief Executive of TENI and puffin lover.