On the outside, teenage Colin looked like he had it all. He had a loving and supportive family, solid friend group, and excelled in sports. It appeared that he was living the dream that he thought was every teen’s ideal life. Early in high school, Colin was a three-sport varsity athlete, a starter on the high school football team, and was always doing things to try to improve his social status. Whether that meant partying, talking to girls, or not trying too hard in school, Colin was always striving to be the “cool” kid. He knew deep down that he wasn’t being himself and was putting a mask on to those around him. All he wanted was to be popular, and the mask was the only way he knew to do that.

Those around him saw only the mask, but behind that mask he was struggling with anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and substance use. Due to stigma around mental health and an internalized belief that he had to solve life’s problems by himself, he did not tell anyone how he was really feeling inside. Afraid of other people’s opinions, and believing these painful feelings would just go away on their own, Colin continued to live a life his true self didn’t want to live. The mask stayed on. Eventually this became too much for him and led him to the darkest days of his life, and to questioning whether or not he wanted to live anymore.

Colin shares his compelling story of how he made a plan to end his life, and ultimately what it took to find wellness today. Through many peaks and valleys, Colin overcame his depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. Colin always had a strong support system in his life with his family, friends, and coaches, but facing the realities about how he was feeling and being honest with himself was the key that unlocked a new door in his life. Now, Colin is living proof that it does get better! He is pursuing a college degree, playing college football, has deep and honest connections with loved ones — he truly loves his life. He is passionate about sharing his story so others know it is okay to not be okay, and there is always hope.

Colin is based in northern New Jersey. In-person speaking engagements beyond 90 miles may require a fee for travel expenses.

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