9NEWS reporter, Jeremy Jojola, opens up about mental health

9NEWS reporter Jeremy Jojola talks about his struggles with grief after the loss of his father.

DENVER — The average weight of a human brain is about three pounds, but what goes on in there when life begins to get heavy can sometimes feel like 20 tons. 

Several months ago, the sheer weight of my thoughts became too much for me to carry. Sleep was elusive as I’d obsess over the “what ifs” of life while staring wide-eyed at my ceiling. On the weekends, I’d drink a little too much. Something wasn’t right. I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t me. This depressive state, of course, suddenly didn’t happen overnight. 

For a period of two years, I was dealing with death threats at work, adapting to fatherhood with a baby girl and trying to come to terms with my father dying of brain cancer. Add in the pandemic and the sea of life became choppy. My mental ship that I could usually captain with stability and resilience was hitting the rocks–and hard. I needed a lighthouse. 

My work provides 12 free sessions of therapy and I decided to give it a go a few months ago. I went online, found a therapist that seemed cool and personable and I booked a session. I’ve been to therapy before, but in this case I needed someone quick. 

The wonderful thing about a therapist who doesn’t know you like a friend or a family member is that they can see you as a human being without added biases or baggage. They can objectively listen to your experience, worries and fears. They are strangers who won’t be offended or hurt when you express your personal truths about why your mind is so heavy with worry and anxiety. 

My first session with my therapist over Zoom was an unloading of my unbearable mental weight. I shared my thoughts and feelings without fear or embarrassment. I was honest not only with my therapist, but with myself. There’s a reason sometimes truth hurts. It hurts in places that need to be healed. 

My grief of losing my father in August of 2021 was a major topic. I spoke about the sudden flood of sadness that would arrest me for no apparent reason. I revealed driving home alone became lonely and painful. These were times when I would call my father near daily to talk about my investigative work or what was happening in life. He was my compass and my compass was suddenly missing. 

Over the last few months, I’ve learned that grief serves a very specific purpose. Grief is an emotional memorial to those who are gone and it shouldn’t be hidden or feared. Grief is human. Grief is life. Grief can be good. 

Grief has reminded me how valuable love is. Grief is a way for me to understand the value of my family and friends who are still with me. 

After my first therapy session a few months ago I slept. I felt unloaded and light. I didn’t feel weighed down. There is something indescribable when you are able to verbalize your darkest fears and worries to a stranger who won’t judge you. 

I’m still going to my therapist once a week and boy, life is so much better. During our last session my therapist told me, “You’re doing okay Jeremy. You are doing okay.” I loved hearing those words. 

If you are someone who feels heavy with worry and depression, I hope you seek out help. Sometimes taking the first step in getting that help can feel awkward and feel like you are acknowledging your own weaknesses. Nobody can be strong alone. Life is heavy and we aren’t meant to carry it all on our own. 

You can contact [email protected] if you’d like to share thoughts about this article or share a news tip. 

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We encourage you to watch, to share, and to join the conversation as we take ‘The First Step’. Please visit 9NEWS.com/MentalHealth for more.

RELATED: 9NEWS anchors, reporters open up on ‘first step’ on their mental health journeys

If you or a loved one needs immediate help, please contact the Colorado Crisis Services Hotline. There are four ways to get confidential and immediate help: by phone at 1-844-493-8255, over text message (text the word “TALK” to 38255), via an online chat service, or at walk-in centers throughout metro Denver, northern, the southeast region and the Western Slope. Many of these services are available 24/7.

RELATED: Mental health help and addiction resources for Colorado residents

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