Danny Beyer admits he sets high expectations for himself. It’s a trait that first emerged during a traumatic moment in his life.
He was 9 or 10 when his mother underwent brain surgery, resulting in significant emotional and financial hardship on the family. While Beyer never felt he lacked anything growing up, he always felt he needed to learn and grow to stay ahead. The mindset served him well in his career, but it took a huge toll on his mental health.
“That somehow implanted a security issue, where if I ever feel like I’m not able to provide, it really freaks and stresses me out,” Beyer said. “I just couldn’t stop working and growing.”
By almost any measure, Beyer, 38, is a successful individual. He’s a financial adviser, motivated networker, author and public speaker. He lives in Dallas Center with his wife and children and is extremely active in the nonprofit community.
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But in 2016, Beyer felt the weight of those high expectations. He was undergoing stress at work and in his nonprofit activities. He quickly became consumed by a constant state of anxiety. He couldn’t exactly pinpoint what was wrong — he just felt complete unease at almost every waking hour. Every bit of stress piled on until the anxiety was almost unbearable.
“I couldn’t wrap my head around what was going on,” Beyer said. “I look back now, and I realize I had this thought that I was never doing enough. I was never providing enough for my family or my boss. If I wasn’t doing something to work or learn at every waking moment, I felt like I was falling behind. I couldn’t take a break. I couldn’t relax. I couldn’t slow down — because if I did, I was going to be missing something.”
By late 2018, Beyer’s mental illness began to negatively affect his professional and personal life. He wasn’t eating right. He wasn’t sleeping much. He was overwhelmed and high-strung.
"I know there’s the stigma. But it should be just as acceptable to go to a doctor to get your mental health fixed as it is to get a broken arm fixed.”
Thankfully, Beyer said he found a friend he could relate with and confide in. After talking, his friend recommended he speak with a counselor. The same evening, Beyer called and set up an appointment. His counselor diagnosed him with anxiety.
He calls the first meeting a “life-changing moment.” Beyer still sees his counselor every three weeks.
“There are times when I show up, and I have no idea what we’re going to talk about, but then all the sudden, the hour is over, and we’ve uncovered something or something has moved forward,” he said. “I don’t foresee a time that I won’t see a counselor. There’s just so much benefit.”
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Beyer encourages anyone who needs help to confide in a trusted confidant. Just talking about issues can do wonders for the mind, he said. Seeking a counselor also helped save Beyer from a longer free fall. Beyer said it’s important to remember not all counselors or therapists are the right fit. Don’t be afraid to try a few different counselors or therapists to find one that works.
“I’ve had friends who had three or four different people to find the one they jive with the best,” Beyer said. “So if you don’t have the experience you want that first time, go to someone else. Just don’t be afraid to reach out. I know there’s the stigma. But it should be just as acceptable to go to a doctor to get your mental health fixed as it is to get a broken arm fixed.”
Make It OK is community campaign to reduce stigma by starting conversations and increasing understanding about mental illness. Start by learning what a mental illness really is. Then, find out what to say and not to say when someone opens up to you. You can also help others by sharing your own story to help people know they aren’t alone. Learn more about how you can get involved at MakeItOK.org/Iowa.