One Man. Talking About His Life With Depression.
“I’m ready to tell my story. It’s time.”
That’s what I heard from Stuart Walker, owner of Clubhaus Fitness, a tall, muscular guy with a boisterous laugh and incredibly busy schedule.
He knew I was researching Perfectly Hidden Depression. He had listened to me talk about how the stigma against mental illness keeps people from seeking treatment. We had chatted about what other factors keep folks from considering help, or even thinking of themselves as depressed.
And how men are specifically affected.
Stuart wanted to help, by revealing what was underneath the beaming smile and bright welcome he gave to all who walked through the doors of his gym. He wanted to share the dark thoughts that could kidnap his mind, after working tirelessly as a dad to three kids (one with autism, a second with severe medical problems). He was a boss to hundreds of employees, a supportive coach to those trying to tighten abs or shed a few. And a husband who didn’t have much left to give, and felt guilty about it.
And he came very close, on a daily basis, to ending his life.
He, in many ways, epitomized Perfectly Hidden Depression, looking like he had the world by the tail. He constantly heard comments like, “I can’t believe how well you handle all the pressure you must be under. You and Missi (his wife) are incredible.”
While inwardly, he knew the secret of his mental and emotional exhaustion.
Until he finally broke.
In a new series of videos on YouTube (available below), Stuart talks vividly and openly about the road from severe depression to new purpose.
His story is profound. It is universal.
It could be you. Or someone you love.
the road from depression to new purpose.Stuart has found ways to revel in his life like never before. The struggles have not changed. Problems have not disappeared.
Not by a long shot.
He has worked extremely hard to get better. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. He and Missi took a long look at their relationship, and now are doing better than ever.
Stuart has found a way to cope with his condition — accept it and go on living.
You can learn from him, if you open yourself to it.
That’s what he wants.
“Knowing that I have had some issues…. it would be cowardly for me not to share it.”
This is Stuart — talking about feeling suicidal every day. And how he handled it.
Please consider seeking treatment if you recognize you are depressed, or if others are suggesting to you that you seem more negative – that you aren’t participating the way you used to in things -if you are getting more irritable – you can’t tolerate things that used to be piece of cake. All of these could be signs that depression is a factor. It runs in families. Maybe your dad or your mom experienced it. Maybe a grandparent or an uncle.
You can talk to a doctor about potential medication, and/or look into therapy. Both can work together as a team.
Therapy is not all about sitting and talking. It’s about taking action. Changing your choices.
And your life.
Note: Mr. Walker was a patient of mine in the past. It should be made clear that I did not approach him about being interviewed. It would have been unethical for me to do so. We discussed potential implications, after which he restated his desire and readiness, with the full support of his wife, Missi. I am sincerely grateful to both of them for sharing with all of us what is hard-earned wisdom.
Please share with others who may learn much from Stuart’s story!
Dr. Margaret Rutherford, a psychologist and blogger, has been in practice for over twenty years. Writing about mental health and midlife issues, her work has been featured on The Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, The Mighty, Midlife Boulevard, Better After 50, Vibrant Nation and others. She’s also been cited for her expertise by Readers Digest, The Cheat Sheet, and The Huffington Post, and her work and personal story can be found in “Surviving Mental Illness With Humor” (A. Herzig) and “StigmaFighters: Anthology II (S. Fader).
This post is part of a joint series by The Good Men Project and Stigma Fighters in sharing stories of real men living with mental illness. To submit your story, see below.
Stigma Fighters is an organization that is dedicated to raising awareness for the millions of people who are seemingly “regular” or “normal” but who are actually hiding the big secret: that they are living with mental illness and fighting hard to survive.
The more people who share their stories, the more light is shone on these invisible illnesses, and the more the stigma of living with mental illness is reduced.
The Good Men Project is the only international conversation about the changing roles of men in the 21st century.
Mental health and the reducing the social stigma of talking about mental health is and has been a crucial area of focus for The Good Men Project.
If you are a man living with mental illness, and want to share your story, we would love to help.
To submit to the Good Men Project, please submit here.
To submit to Stigma Fighters, please submit here.
Submissions will run in both publications. When you submit, please make sure to let us know you submitting as part of this Joint Call for Submissions with Stigma Fighters and Good Men Project.