In our written posts, we will explore a wide range of topics including modern issues surrounding masculinity and male identity, how men can connect more deeply with themselves and others, and daily, actionable steps that any man can take to transform themselves and their lives.

On our podcast ‘Tales That Tethr’, tethr Founder & CEO Matt Zerker interviews entrepreneurs, experts, thought leaders, and regular people about what is means to be a man, the challenges that modern men face, and how to overcome challenges and live life in a more connected and authentic way.

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Welcome to Tales That Tethr, a series written by and for the tethr community. If you’d like to share your own story of strength and support, click here. Today we’re honored to share Pedro’s story.

When I think of my mental health journey, what stands out is the pain of not having a present father or an emotional available mother. The pain of seeing and hearing my mother and father constantly fighting over the smallest things at home. Both saying negative words to each other. This has been constant throughout my life.

To me, the orange circle means safety.

I also had a very difficult experience in elementary school as I had trouble concentrating, couldn’t sit still and misbehaved in class. Because of that I was put in detention and missed the class lesson. This happened many times in class during grade two. Because of that I was put in special education at the start of grade three. At the start of grade three I still had difficulty concentrating, trouble sitting still and misbehaving from time to time. Then over time, with the help of my special education teacher, my concentration, reading, and comprehension improved and I didn’t cause problems in class. The teacher told me I’d improved a lot. Which felt great.

Looking back at it now, the way I behaved was to get attention. To be seen, heard, and understood.

High school was also a very difficult experience as I was called slow, dumb, retarded. I was also bullied a lot from rocks being thrown at me to being kicked and punched. In class, spit balls were sent my way, so it was hard to focus. Overall, I was an average C student. I did my best to focus and be disciplined with my school work even through everything that was happening outside of school and at home. Not a safe environment and lots of lonely days. I was happy to graduate in 2000 and move on from my time in high school.

An awesome achievement for someone who was in special education in elementary school, experienced trauma at home and was bullied a lot in high school.

I always had an interest in writing and sports, so I applied to numerous journalism programs like Ryerson, Humber and Centennial. Unfortunately, I didn't get accepted to any of them. I ended getting accepted for the General Arts and Sciences program at Centennial College in September 2000. It was a great experience where I learned about psychology, geography, science, history. In 2003, I was finally accepted to Centennial College's Journalism program after multiple failed attempts.

Overall, my experience was positive having learned a lot about the journalism industry, writing, and having my stories published, which was really cool. The biggest honour was receiving a Journalism Diploma. I was the first in my family to graduate college. An awesome achievement for someone who was in special education in elementary school, experienced trauma at home and was bullied a lot in high school.

If I could tell my younger self one thing, I would want him to know that you are safe, you matter, and you are loved. That advice came from within. To know that I'm safe, I matter and I'm loved. It's my mantra. I wouldn't be the person I am today if I didn't go through these experiences. It has made mentally stronger to fight through difficult challenges, achieve personal goals, and become a kind, compassionate, and loving person.  

Everything happens for a reason. You can only look forward and focus on improving your life.

I'm so blessed that my parents are alive. I know they love me in their own way. I'm grateful to have my best friend Lucas and his girlfriend Malissa in my life. They are very special to me and I love them so much. I'm also blessed to have my life coach, Theresa, by my side to guide me and help me build a positive and strong mindset so I can achieve my goals and dreams.  

I was really never supported for most of my life. Only until a few years ago that I started building meaningful friends with people who support and care about me. It would have great to have support, but I had no friends and family I didn't feel comfortable sharing what was happening in my life with family. Obviously, I wished those past negative experiences didn't happen. But, everything happens for a reason. You can only look forward and focus on improving your life.

I go on nature walks and listen to my favourite music. It allows me to feel calm, to be present and joyful.

I feel like I'm in a better place now after therapy, working with coaches, and having a clear vision of what I want for my life. It feels great to live on my own, have close friends who support and love you, and to be a part of a community with like-minded people who have successful careers as coaches, business leaders, and entrepreneurs.

There are a number of other things that have helped. I would say reading a lot about mental health, personal development, meditation, exercising, journaling and especially being around positive and like-minded people who care about learning and growing. I go on nature walks and listen to my favourite music. It allows me to feel calm, to be present and joyful.

I'm excited for what's ahead!

My definition of peer support is listening, understanding, and showing compassion to people struggling. I've done my best to help support friends who are struggling with their mental health to know that I see, hear and understand them. I would say Tethr is a safe, welcoming and compassionate community for men to share openly without being judged. We're here for each other.  To me, the orange circle means safety.

In addition to tethr, Pedro supports the Heart of a Man movement and the Canadian Mental Health Association. He’s been a valued member of the tethr community since 2020.

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