This morning I woke up early to do a television spot and 2 radio interviews with the media here in Cedar Rapids. I really like doing these pieces because it provides a forum to reach out to men to talk about depression. For some reason, today, a very commonly asked question; “Why are you doing this?” really struck a chord with me. Why am I doing this? I have left my wife to manage our home and kids, I have put my ability to earn money this summer on hold, and most days I get on a bicycle with lots of traffic and I ride until my legs, neck, shoulders, and butt are sore. Why?
My answer to why is not very articulate or profound, and lies somewhere between ”because I can”, “because I want to” and “because I have to.” 9 years ago I nearly lost my life to depression after living in complete misery for a number of years. Had I taken my life that night my wife, children, family, and friends would have been left wondering why and specifically my children would have had a gigantic hole in their lives. Through God and fate I was given another chance at life. To me this seems like a mandate to do something positive in an effort to help others.
In addition to this sense of responsibility I have an strong sense of what it takes to raise children who are well-adjusted and who are happy. When I was so sick I just couldn’t be present for my kids. Not because I didn’t want to, but more because I didn’t have the energy or interest. If I can help other dads who are struggling with depression to get themselves better than at the same time I am hopeful this will allow them to be better connected to their families and to be more effective fathers.
And finally I am fascinated by depression and what it can do to people. When I look at myself today and how I am able to function in comparison to where I was 9 years ago it is really rather amazing. How is it that at my lowest point I could barely get myself out of bed, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, and my mind raced to the point of causing me to feel profound and debilitating anxiety. And today I am able to teach at the University of MN, provide counseling support to those who suffer with depression, ride my bike across the country, and most importantly be completely engaged with my family.
If you have ever lived with depression you know what I am talking about and if you haven’t just imagine for awhile what it is like to be sad, angry, agitated, nervous, scared, and confused 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It is awfully painful. I am driven to bring our online depression management system to life so that men all across the world can find support, education, and information to help them to overcome their depression. That is why I am doing this.