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I opened up about my anxiety and depression to help other gay men

I opened up about my anxiety and depression to help other gay men

Rad mitic standing at an event talking to another person his hair is short and he is wearing a light leather jacket over a white t-shirt

When I received the phone call letting me know that I had become a finalist for Mr Gay Pride Australia the first thing that came into my head wasn’t excitement or joy, it was fear. It was fear of being judged. I couldn’t escape the thought of ‘am I good enough?’

This thought process is something members of our community battle daily. It wasn’t until I said to myself ‘I have this amazing opportunity and platform to make a difference’ that I stopped to appreciate the opportunity.

Social media, for good or bad it is part of our lives. About 210 million people worldwide are estimated to be addicted, including me. We create the notion of a perfect life by editing out our flaws, only showing the good.

I am guilty of this, and it has become more apparent to me when I meet someone for the first time, and they have followed me on social platforms, after a couple of minutes the comment ‘you are not whom I expected you to be.’ Yes, I have a lot of shirtless pictures.

Growing up life wasn’t always easy, I was continuously bullied about being too skinny which made me become conscious of my physical appearance. By posting shirtless pictures and watching the likes increase is validation that I am good enough right? The answer is NO. The only person you need validation from is you!

Rad speaking at the closing night of the Mardi Gras Film Festival
Rad speaking at the closing night of the Mardi Gras Film Festival | Photo: Supplied

You should go and love yourself

I remember one day my good friend Stephen asked me, ‘do you love yourself?’

It was one of the hardest questions I had to answer openly. With complete honesty, I said I didn’t and listed all the flaws I saw in myself. It wasn’t until I stopped and started looking in the mirror every morning and would tell myself I am good enough, I am enough, and started to love my flaws because they’re a part of me and make me, me.

We all have our fair share of insecurities, some that we speak about openly and others that we prefer to keep to ourselves. However, comparing yourself to others on social media by stalking their aesthetically perfect Instagram photos or staying up to date with their relationship status on Facebook could do little to assuage your feelings of self-doubt.

a close up of rad who is topless and smiling. he is looking over to his left
Rad believes social media is harmful | Photo: Supplied/Chris Ball

I have a few theories on why people judge. Mostly, it is because society taught us what beautiful looks like. Through magazines, TV shows, social media and celebrities, we have been force fed this ridiculous standard that is unattainable.

We compare ourselves to other users and feel as if we can’t measure up to the ‘ideal’ lives that their connections depict. It stunts our real-life social interactions; it makes us envious of others (instead of grateful for what we’ve got) and we rarely see anyone posting that they are down or struggling. We also only ever see photoshopped photos, happy relationships so of course, we think what’s wrong with me?

It’s time to tell the truth

Realizing I was part of the problem I decided to tell the truth, I shared my story in the Star Observer – Australia’s oldest LGBTI magazine – about depression and anxiety.

Instead of caring if we are happy and healthy, we worry about stupid things that don’t matter. I have a newsflash for everyone reading this: you are fabulous just the way you are.

The online bullying, the racism on dating apps, and body shaming, it’s time to say enough is enough! We need to stop hurting each other; we need to stop making assumptions about people because mental health doesn’t discriminate.

I’ve lost six friends to suicide in the last three years; they didn’t get a chance to speak up. It breaks my heart thinking I or anyone couldn’t save them.

This is why I’m here. I want to create more awareness about mental illness, and how the world has evolved, it’s not just what you experience in the world but also how you engage digitally. We have to do more, or this epidemic will consume more lives.

rad's selfie, he is wearing a white shirt
Rad is a finalist Mr Gay Pride Australia | Photo: Supplied

Mr Gay Pride Australia

Mr Gay Pride Australia has done such an amazing job in selecting a beautiful diverse group of men. These incredible people who I stand with not only care and love our community, but they give back time and time again.

For me this competition isn’t about winning, it’s about the opportunity to help educate people. Letting people know they aren’t alone and that as a community we have your back.

So I ask you. Who is the real you? I encourage you to share your story because your story just might make a difference to someone’s life.

If you need someone to talk to please find an international list of support services here.

Rad Mitic is a finalist in Mr Gay Pride Australia and a mental health advocate.

See also

Anxiety, panic and depression mean suffering without choice – choose to see positive

11 inspiring LGBTI celebrities who have battled depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses

Bisexual actor Evan Rachel Wood opens up about PTSD and mental health stigma