In Their Words…Chad
We have come to learn just how much men appreciate reading/listening to the stories of other men who have dealt with depression, anxiety, and the challenges that go along with these conditions. I have reached out to the 140 men who attend our support groups and asked them if they would be willing to share a story that was important to them that relates to the struggles they have had. I have made no edits to the content of what they wrote and the words that follow are those of the man who wrote them. Today I am sharing a story by Chad, who attends a Face It Men’s group and who delivered this story to over 250 attendees at Alive at the Links, the fundraiser that supports the work of Face It.
“About two years ago, I came out of Christmas break tired and broke from my wife and I pushing ourselves too hard and going too many places and spending too much money to make sure the kids have a great Christmas! After all, they had to see all their grandparents and all their cousins and all their aunts and uncles. But the difference this Christmas was that I wanted to die.
Not just wanted to, I started thinking of ways to make it happen. I hadn’t been in this bad of a mindset since 2009 when I put my 30-06 in my mouth before somehow talking myself out of it. Before that it was 2005 when I told my supervisor on the USS Nimitz that I had been thinking of jumping off the back of the ship in the middle of the night. No one would care anyway right?
In my mind I would be doing my family a favor. They would be better off without me. Without the pain and suffering I cause. Without the annoyance of my weird sense of humor. Without my brutal honesty. Without my constant always knowing what’s best for everyone. I would make sure the cleanup would be minimal. My family would be well taken care of financially… I always joke I’m worth more dead than alive… I finally realize now though, thanks to Mark, Bill, and Face It that first, I’m not really joking when I say that. But more importantly, it’s not true, nor is it funny!
Coming off that Christmas and knowing I needed to stop trying to deal with it on my own I started searching the internet trying to find any sort of help I could get. All the searches online came back with websites and help desks and support services for pregnant women with postpartum depression. Nothing to help guys. I felt like a failure as a man. I felt like a freak. I had the emotions of a pregnant woman and the inability to deal with it is what the internet was telling me. I contacted my work helpline and they pointed me to a list of free doctors for me to go see. But that selection process was daunting. I felt I was being judged and questioned every step of the way. The free docs all sounded the same and all had the same bio and websites. Every one of them was an expert at everything and knew all of the latest great treatments! I could smell the BS through the computer screen!
Around the same time I found a Star Tribune article and it’s telling a story that could be my story! Successful life, happy wife and kids, everything is going great, but something’s just not right! Something’s always wrong. Something’s always broken. I just can’t appreciate all of the good in my life? What is wrong with me?!?! In this article he talks about this group called Face It. I sent a message to the Face It website wondering if I’d get a response. In a matter of hours Mark emailed me back asking for me to give him a call. We talked and I came in the next morning and sat down with Mark and Bill. I immediately felt a connection to these two! Reading their bios online and talking to them in person I realized that they understand my struggle first-hand! They’ve been there.
That was the day Mark asked me to have a family member take my hunting rifle. No sense having my tool of choice so readily available. I called my parents and told them everything. They were shocked. They had no clue I had been dealing with this. My Mom is still struggling to this day with her own guilt over what she thinks she failed at. Thinking that she somehow caused these thoughts and feelings with the way I was raised. I also had the first open and honest discussion with my wife about exactly what I had been thinking and feeling.
After 12 years of marriage I thought she knew exactly what I meant when I would tell her she would be better off without me. It was just as much of a shock to her as it was to my parents. My wife is the rock in our relationship. She is the strong one laughing at me as I’m crying during the sad part of a movie. So, to see her crying as I explained this to her really hurt me. It made me sink even further into my hole and hate myself even more for hurting the people I love most. However, she kept pushing me to work on it. She kept doing things to let me know how much she loves and supports me. She kept pushing me to work with Face It and not try to do it on my own.
I went to a breakfast and met some good guys. But some stuff rubbed me the wrong way. I stepped back for a week or two. Talked to my priest and found out the Church didn’t have any programs to help me. Talked to a couple friends I thought genuinely cared and they got weird… And talking to my wife more and more about how I truly felt about myself, my self-worth, and my plans for suicide only seemed to hurt her and drive her down. I was back to square one. Again, I wanted to shove it down and pretend it wasn’t real but I knew I needed help. I started meeting with Mark once or twice a week and Mark walked me through the process of finding a good doctor and what questions to ask to go through and figure out what their focus is and how they attack problems. Are they problem solvers or are they just trying to get a paycheck? Mark helped me figure that out.
I finally go see the free work shrink thinking I know it all. However, after a couple visits, I see a pattern forming. Thinking I needed more God in my life I purposely selected someone with a faith-based approach. He just told me to pray about it and come to see him in two weeks. When I told him I needed more he just said I needed to pray harder. So now I was just feeling like there was no hope for me.
But I also started meeting with Bill’s Wednesday night group around this time. They helped me finally see myself as somewhat normal. I wasn’t special. I wasn’t broken. I was just like them! Sure, we all have different everyday problems. But we all see ourselves in essentially the same light. I talked to them about my feelings of failure in treatment thinking I was funny and sad at the same time… Again, my sense of humor was lost on the seriousness of the subject. The guys helped me down off my pedestal of misery and made me realize that prayer therapy alone just wasn’t for me. I’m too logical. I’m too much of an engineer. I need to know processes and the science behind it. I guess I can’t just let Jesus take the wheel.
So finally last spring I joined Face It’s first therapy group. God blessed me with a chance to see a therapist who works with men like me every day. Face It organized time for us to have 5 sessions with a doctor who really makes a difference! And a group of us met to discuss our progress and what processes and tools worked for us. This really helped open my eyes to the possibilities! And it gave me tools to use every day to deal with my anxiety and depression.
My guys in my regular group are like family. I had a little mental breakdown earlier this year when I thought I might not be able to attend group any more. The thought of losing them really scared me! The people I’ve met at the breakfasts and the golf event least year are amazing to me. I am so blessed to be here today. And I can even say confidently, my wife is blessed and thankful to have me here too. Even more blessing is that I get to have more time with my two beautiful children. John is seven and Eleanor is four. I get to take what Mark, Bill and Face It have taught me to help my kids. I get to be there to help them along this crazy journey called life.
I don’t know where I’d be without Mark, Bill, and Face It. My story is not a sad story. My story probably isn’t going to make you cry, but that is because of Face It. My wife and mother aren’t telling you about me, because of the support I received from Face It. I’m not healed. I’ll never be healed. But I’ll never go through it alone again. I can live my life, I can live a good life, with their help.”
Please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or thoughts and I will pass them along to Chad.