‘Facing Stigma’ with Matt McCoy

“I grew up in a small town, and even though there was a big city right next to us it felt like an eternity away when I was younger. My dad wasn’t around much then and I didn’t get along with my step dad at the time. I spent a lot of time in my own solitude and would always watch ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’ with Will Smith and think that’s who and where I wanted to be when I grew up (To this day I can sing the opening monologue verbatim). When the finale happened there was a scene where his Dad left him yet again and he turned to his uncle and said he didn’t need him, but from the way he cried you could tell it was really painful for him. That scene hit me hard and still is hard for me to watch today because I could relate to how he felt, and for a long time blamed my dad for not being around or there for me when I was molested as a kid. I never told anybody about it, but not talking about it only festered and came out the older I got.

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I started boxing as a teenager partly because McCoy’s weren’t exactly the scholarly type, and the other being I felt like it was my way out of where I was from. I got to the point where I started doing pretty well and wanted to join the Air Force and box for their team. The only problem with that plan was I had gotten in a car wreck and suffered a TBI a few years before and knew I probably shouldn’t have been fighting in the first place. However, when you’re young you feel like Superman, so naturally I ignored the matter and went on to box with the Air Force team anyway. It took a long time for the signs to show, and me to realize how bad of a decision that was. At first I started experiencing memory problems, but it wasn’t until I started having a hard time forming sentences and not being able to control my anger or actions that I realized I needed to get help.

Even when I realized I needed help I still hesitated in reaching out. I think a lot of veterans like myself try and suppress their issues or justify to themselves that somebody else has it worse, as a means to avoid dealing with those issues. I tried using my hobbies of running and stand-up comedy as a way to cope and express myself, but it wasn’t until I started getting therapy from Headstrong that I really started feeling relieved. Once I started receiving EMDR treatment and really talking about my problems in therapy I started noticing a difference. I’m proud of myself for not thinking that I was too tough or not important enough to ask for help when I needed it most. At the end of the day though, I’m just happy to have taken control of my life and manifesting what I wanted out of it.”

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Healing the hidden wounds of war

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