As a young kid, Louis was a very active child with a supportive family. He was a year-round athlete, and when he wasn’t playing sports, you could find him watching sports, avidly rooting for all Philly teams. Sports became very important for him. He wasn’t sure why at the time, but he knows why now. Sports were a way he could feel a sense of belonging and connection. This was something he couldn’t find at school.

Louis was physically and mentally bullied throughout second and third grade. Every day became a struggle. When the weight of the physical and emotional pain became too much, he changed schools in hopes of starting fresh. Things may have gotten better on the outside, but on the inside he was struggling with social anxiety due to his past experiences and fear he wouldn’t be accepted.

In middle school, he continued in athletics and eventually joined the school choir and theater. Excelling as an athlete and actor, he thought he had to make a decision of whom he wanted to be. He didn’t think it was possible for him to be accepted for all the parts of his identity. By the time he got to high school, life at home was chaotic while his parents were going through a divorce, school was still anxiety-producing, and under all that weight of social pressure, he began to struggle with depression. At the time, sports was the only way he knew to manage his thoughts and emotions. Due to the stigma surrounding mental health, Louis was afraid to reach out for help. Instead, he turned to alcohol to cope with his mental health.

When he went to college, he continued to drink and replaced sports with being a news anchor at the campus news station. Once he graduated, Louis was left with alcohol as his only way to cope with his mental health. From an outsider’s perspective Louis had it all together. He was able to hold a job, have a successful career and an amazing girlfriend. What people didn’t know was he was dealing with alcoholism, with the trauma from his childhood, anxiety, and depression buried under the surface.

After Louis’ girlfriend encouraged him to seek help for his drinking, he went to an inpatient treatment program for 90 days. During that time he was able to unpack events and emotions from his childhood, and finally confront his mental health. He was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, and Alcohol Use Disorder. Louis engaged in family therapy, individual therapy, and learned appropriate coping skills to manage his anxiety and depression. Today he is able to live a healthy, fulfilling life.

Sharing his story is a significant part of Louis’ recovery. He hopes that his message will resonate with students, so they know they aren’t alone and it’s okay to reach out for help.

Louis is based in Philadelphia, PA. In-person speaking engagements beyond 90 miles may require a fee for travel expenses.

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