My name is Dan and I am a fifth grade teacher in Northfield, MN. I’ve been married for 34 years, and my wife and I have four adult children. I enjoy teaching, reading, walking, listening to music, cooking, tending to 14 bluebird houses, and spending time with my family.
Life is really good for me right now, but it hasn’t always been that way. I used to spend a lot of time lying on the couch thinking I was tired. I was disconnected from my wife and had little energy for my kids. I didn’t listen to music and had trouble concentrating on reading a book.
I was awake for most of the night and got no exercise. Work felt like a drag because I was convinced I was the worst teacher in the world. I felt alone and hopeless. I believed depression was a part of my makeup, and I thought I deserved to be depressed because I was such a loser.
Recently I had a conversation with one of my adult children about her perception of me when I was struggling with depression. “Dad,” she said, “I always thought of you as negative and angry.” Her words cut deep, because they were true.
I was determined to keep my struggles to myself because, as a man, I figured I should be able to solve my own problems. I couldn’t imagine there were other men who suffered from depression. If others heard my story, they would laugh at me or judge me.
A few years ago, I was talking to a teacher friend, telling her I had been struggling a lot lately. She said, “You should check out this group my husband is involved in called Face It.” I nervously approached Mark Meier at Face It. He invited me to attend meetings with other guys. I was pleasantly surprised to meet guys who were willing to open up with their stories, and, as a bonus, these men were funny, kind and understanding.
Over time, the men in the group encouraged me, gave me ideas to begin feeling better, and sometimes even challenged me. I tried medicine and counseling over the years, and I would sometimes feel better for a while, but I didn’t make lasting changes until I came to Face It, shared my story, realized I was not alone, and got the tools I needed to get better. I’ve learned important things about myself, and gained a lot of skills for putting depression and anxiety issues behind me.
I am back to doing the things I love and enjoying life. Do I have struggles and challenges? Of course. But now those things feel like bumps in the road that I can face and move past. I work at staying well by attending Face It group meetings and events, reading helpful books, and exercising. I no longer take depression or anxiety medication, and I now lead my own group at Face It.
Living free of depression seems more and more habitual and natural. It was one of the best moments of my life a few months ago, when I asked my wife if she has noticed any changes in me, and she said, “Oh my gosh, dear, you are like a different person!”
If you are dealing with depression, it may seem impossible to ever feel better. You might feel like giving up. But that’s your depressed brain lying to you. Face that depression! I did it, and so can you.
Learn about the support offerings that have helped Dan and many other men recover from depression.