My name is Mark and I have been married for 10 years. I have two children who are active, loving, and just amazing kids. I work as a design director in an interactive marketing and technology capacity. My hobbies include music, especially playing guitar, writing songs, and singing. In 2015, I performed at Alive at the Market, a fundraiser for Face It. This performance was a true milestone for me in light of the very severe depression I dealt with.
As I look back on the depression I was experiencing, I can now see that I was under a tremendous amount of stress. That really tipped me over the edge. I had a big job with a great deal of responsibility, we were moving to a bigger house in a new neighborhood, and we had some financial stress associated with that.
All of these challenges became so overwhelming that I was literally unable to function. All my thinking turned negative and the only thing I could see in myself was that I was a failure. I viewed myself as the head of the household and it was my responsibility to provide for the whole family and keep everything running smoothly. Clearly I was failing, or so I thought.
I had tied up my entire identity in my work, and it was only through achievement at work that I was able to find any sense of self-esteem. As you can imagine, as my depression deepened, my ability to perform at work lessened. This lead to an even darker time in my life.
As my depression worsened, so did my thoughts of suicide. I had a couple of trips to the hospital. At that time, I felt paralyzed by my depression and I couldn’t make any decisions for myself. So I let others make them. The problem was that I had too many people making decisions for me, and these people weren’t all on the same page. This compounded my stress level.
As I sat in the hospital, I was riddled with shame and guilt. I was sure that others would view me as weak and incapable. I assumed my professional career was over and that I would never be a trusted colleague again. This was a truly dark time in my life.
After being discharged from the hospital, I attended not one but two Face It groups. The fog of my depression started to lift. When I shared my story with the other guys from Face It, I came to realize that I am not the only man who has struggled.
I began to develop other tools to help myself, such as journaling and reading some self-help books around shame and negative thinking. I started to focus on my marriage. Together, my wife and I learned some valuable lessons about each other. I put my career in perspective and learned that there are other important things in my life, such as my kids!
Today my life looks completely different. I have learned to surround myself with true friends who can be with me in the good times and the tough times. I have six factors I try to stay conscious of: sleep, diet, exercise, involvement with my friends/“tribe”, actively challenging myself and learning, and focusing on positive and purposeful activities every day of my life. A keen focus on those things makes me feel more empowered and in control of the irrationality and confusion that ensues when stress, anxiety, and other challenges enter my life.
Depression is rather common, but that doesn’t mean it’s not really hard. It’s important to know you aren’t alone. I returned from a very dark place to a fulfilling and productive life. Other guys can, too.
Learn about the support offerings that have helped Mark and many other men recover from depression.