The Live Talk with Beny Pérez-Reyes: Actions Taken Toward Healing
We had a powerful conversation with Beny Pérez-Reyes the principal owner of Clover Phoenix Capital, an organization that helps fund businesses in the Milwaukee area. Beny is a suicide survivor. During the Live Talk, he discussed the circumstances that led up to that moment, how he was able to get himself out, and the tools that helped him. We hope in telling Beny’s story, it helps you identify stressors that could be leading you towards an unhealthy path and shed light on how you can build a toolbox from which to draw during tough times.
Factors that negatively affected his mental health
As a first generation university student, meaning the first person in his family to go to college, Beny felt a lot of pressure to do well, be perfect, not mess up and set a good example for those to come after him. He acknowledges that such pressure can be perceived or outwardly projected by others.
Being a minority student at a predominantly white institution also had some negative effect on Beny. When he did not succeed academically in the path he had originally chosen (pre-med), his mental well-being was further impacted. While he was successful socially, helping start and run several organizations on campus, neither he nor his family valued the skills it required to accomplish those milestones. And so he struggled for some time to identify his purpose or ‘north star’. While an incredibly supportive friend, being around others who seemed to have identified their purpose only decreased his own sense of self-worth.
After graduating from college, Beny struggled to find employment for 7 months, making matters of his mental health worse. He notes, “you begin to feel lesser-than especially when there are family and friends who are getting jobs and offers.” He eventually got a job but was under-employed. Beny states that “after getting a four year degree, you expect a certain lifestyle, not getting what one feels they deserve causes you further stress and anxiety.”
Beny notes that the environment is very important. At some point he took a job at a nightclub. This affected his sleep, exacerbated his drinking habit and affected other aspects of his life. He soon came to the realization that the environment was detrimental to his well being and made the choice to leave.
How depression manifested
Beny describes his depression as a ‘quiet’ period that lasted over 10 years. Beny notes that many people would not have guessed what he was going through and that even during a serious depressive episode, friends did not know. For him, his depression manifested in binge drinking. It affected his relationships with family and partners.
Our happiness and health is our responsibility and it is not selfish. You have to take care of yourself first.— Beny Pérez-Reyes
Actions taken to find healing
Over his ten year struggle with mental health challenges, Beny says he “ebbed and flowed, with high and lows and low lows.” As a fighter, he experimented with a variety of practices that eventually brought him healing. Here are some things he did in those years:
- Beny went into therapy, which included one on one and group sessions. He was not able to stick with therapy as he didn’t have a culturally competent therapist and felt it wasn’t a fit for him.
- Beny decided to hold himself accountable. He highlighted that we often want to blame someone else for things but there comes a time when one must take responsibility and hold themselves accountable.
- Beny had to forgive himself and ask for forgiveness from those he wronged. He states that “Forgiveness is a choice. You have to forgive yourself first before you can expect anyone to forgive you.” He admits that forgiving himself was a hard task.
- Beny credits his spiritual awakening for saving his life. He had built the foundation over years and when he found himself in a very dark moment it was faith that pulled him out. God helped him find his north star. He notes that for him, his relationship with God, spirituality and faith, was the key to his survival, not religion.
- What you consume becomes who you are. If you consume things that don’t build you up, then you will become that as well. He chooses instead to consume information that uplifts him, and he surrounds himself with people that give off that same positive, motivating energy.
- Self Assess:
- Beny reevaluated his goals, his purpose in life, and his values. He notes, “if you don’t know who you are, then you leave the definition of who you are to somebody else and nobody should have that type of power over you. No one.” We often get into relationships and situationships when we don’t know ourselves and in those instances, you bleed on others. Being in an amorous relationship is not an addition, it’s a multiplication. It needs one whole person + one whole person. If you are seeking validation from people, it’s an empty endeavor. Know who you are and have that be your validation.
- Structure/ Organisation:
- People need organization. When we control the controllable it goes a long way, especially in dark times. Beny structures his day by controlling what he can before his day controls him. His routine includes: 5 am wake up; he reads his Bible, exercises. He takes time in the morning to consume what he needs to fuel his day.
Gems from Beny
Throughout the Live Talk, Beny dropped a lot of gems! Here are the top 3.