Deconstructing Stigma – Chris

Available with English captions and subtitles in Spanish.

As a participant in McLean’s Deconstructing Stigma campaign, Chris tells his story of his struggle with addiction and how getting the help he needed inspired him to fight stigma by talking openly about his recovery.

“I work in the world of sports, where any perceived weakness is judged negatively. You know, you’re supposed to be the guy that benches the most, that talks the most, that has the hottest girlfriend, who’s the most masculine, and any form of weakness is seen as a negative,” says Chris.

Chris didn’t want deal with the stress of his job and anxiety and feelings of inadequacy. Instead, he turned to alcohol.

“That was really every day of my life for the better part of six years. I landed in the ICU with alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver failure,” he shares.

After finding himself in the ICU, Chris began treatment at Fernside, a signature addiction recovery program at McLean.

Chris finds that sharing struggles with alcohol addiction is helpful in his recovery. But he also talks about his experiences to help other people as well.

“Every once in a while, I hear from a listener or two on social media, and they’ll say that hearing me talk about my struggles openly has led them to maybe have a conversation with their son or daughter, or led them to seek help. And there is no greater thing that I’ve experienced than hearing those types of things in recovery.”

“You have no idea how much others are struggling. I was leading a number one rated show and I was a mess, both physically and mentally. You can never really judge a book by its cover. You have to understand that just like you, the people that you’re listening to or watching or looking up to are struggling with a lot of the same mental health issues as you are.”

Read more about Chris’ story.

About Deconstructing Stigma

Deconstructing Stigma: Changing Attitudes About Mental Health is a series of larger-than-life photographs and interviews with people from across the United States and around the world who have been affected by mental illness.

Since the campaign’s initial physical installation at Boston’s Logan International Airport, it has traveled the world with pop-up installations across the United States and in all inhabited continents except Australia.

The installations, website, and the companion books serve to capture the complexity of living with a psychiatric disorder, seeking treatment, navigating insurance and health care systems, and facing stigma.