There is still a lack of discussion around vulnerability as a man. At times, the talk around this topic is often neglected and not present among families nowadays. It is important to continue speaking up about mental health and discuss important ways of attaining a better quality of life by finding ways of healing. Our end goal is to truly find happiness after all the difficulties and circumstances that life throws over the way. Hustle 4 Happiness: A Decades Walk, is one of those stories that highlights this topic, story, and discussion of healing.
Canadian author shares his story
My name is Mohamad-Nawaf Taleb, 31, the son of Lebanese immigrants, that is now residing in the beautiful city of Ontario, Toronto. On January 24 of 2011, my family and I experienced a loss, my younger brother Shadi. This changed our lives forever, and I had become the single child of my parents.
The loss, the emotions
That loss of my younger brother placed me and my family into this loop of depression, stress, anxiety, and a life of depreciated mental health. We were faced to walk through a decade of issues and circumstances that only we had to figure out how to get out of.
This loss and moments led me to walk the path of deep depression amongst other illnesses. As a young man, I did not really have a means of relating to someone or asking someone for help. Unfortunately, the culture we grow up in as Arabs (Lebanese) is one where we are told to body our emotions and to man up about what is bothering us.
During the time, I didn’t have much to say even though I wanted to burst out from the screaming pain inside. I was under the impression that men that opened up about their emotions, feelings & thoughts were weak, so I stayed quiet.
For around 10 years, I held onto unhealed trauma within me, developed pain, mental battles, avoidance of emotion, no accountability & more importantly weight on my soul. I held onto heartbreak, built-up anxiety, unwanted stress & brought all that into unhealthy relationships.
The converstion of discussing struggles
In 2016 I sit down with a friend who was in the process of writing her own book and later became a motivational speaker herself where she had asked me: what’s your story? Who are you?
For the first time in a very long time, I did not know how to answer that question. It took me a few days to sum up the courage to come back to her and allow my walls to crumble down in hopes that I can connect with someone. We talked and she indicated that I have a story to tell and to share.
I have always had a knack for writing, by 2016 the idea of writing a book sparked in my mind, and through my words, I wanted to reach out to anyone who was going through their own issues or problems, and in a way let them know that they were not alone. But I had stopped towards the end of 2018, I had hit another low dip in my life where I was unable to focus on writing from a genuine and deep place.
Finding the inspiration to write again
With the pandemic hitting us all in 2020, I had to place the book on the back burner, my mental health was deteriorating towards the start of COVID-19 and during the whole time we were in lockdown I had reached the lowest point I have ever reached in life. I had developed a new form of depression that included thoughts of suicide and dark thoughts that led me down a dark place.
The pandemic introduced a new form of loneliness and it wasn’t until the end of 2020 that I actually went to seek therapy because of a promise to the girl I was dating at the time. I entered into my first session and soon realized that I needed to become great for myself and not anyone else. During the beginning of 2021, I had gone through what I want to call my final Hurrah and I had looked at the reflection staring back at me in the mirror.
The realization happened, where I remembered a promise I made, to my brother and others that I would finish this book but I was nowhere close to being finished. I no longer wanted to live this dark, ominous life where I was not accountable for my actions and did not acknowledge my feelings. It had to come to me realizing that I needed help, so I started seeing a therapist.
I soon realized that there may have been someone out there dealing with the same issues I am dealing with but does not have it in them to speak up. In February of 2021, I began writing again. I was able to finally celebrate my brother this year, on June 21, 2021, the first day of summer and also his birthday.
Male masculinity and emotions
To overcome the stigma surrounding male masculinity and emotions I wanted to help invoke the change in someone and break the rhetoric of men opening up by placing my life in a state of vulnerability.
Through this book, I covered topics that are meaningful and a part of my journey, it discusses the loss of my brother, how I relocated from Lebanon to Toronto, relationships, and mental health struggles. Even though I was born in Lebanon I had spent 90 per cent of my life in Toronto where I was subjected to the majority of the issues I speak about.
Growing up in the ’90s here in Toronto wasn’t easy either. I recall at one point not telling people my name was Mohamad because of the stigma that surrounded Arab Muslims and the racism that encompassed it.
The launch of words: HUSTLE 4 HAPPINESS
This book will give an insight on how I dealt with it all, I share my journey of struggles. One part of the book that I write about is coming to terms with the fact that as you are, you are beautiful. I had struggled with my own image for the longest time.
It wasn’t until later in 2017 when I had realized that we are all unique in our own ways with stories that have built us into who we are today. Being someone that has judged someone quickly before knowing them I didn’t want to continue this thread ever again and the moment I was able to switch my mentality by allowing myself the mercy of being unique, I was able to embrace myself in my entirety.
This is one of the scenarios I have written about, and it is my way of connecting the readers with me on a more personal level, this journey is a reminder that we need to be easy on ourselves. At the end of the day, we are only human and we hold within us the greatest gift known to mankind, which is love.
I also wanted to reach to many that do not speak out regarding acceptance, emotional connection, healing, therapy, opening up as a man, protecting your bubble of peace, gaining control, love & most importantly healing. If you are worried about the stigma involved with opening up as a man, I am placing my story for the public to realize that the rhetoric is now changing.
Hustle 4 Happiness is my way of being the helping hand. We all need a story that we can relate to and find that path to healing. I take you through different steps of control, peace acquisition, communication, and trauma recovery. The constructive lessons will guide you to a more valuable understanding of how a life of healing can be achieved.
Writer: Mohamad-Nawaf Taleb