It’s taken a while for me to get to the point where I felt comfortable writing this…and really it’s because it’s taken a while for me to get to the point where I felt like I was starting to feel like myself again.  I’ve described my recent time as a “tough season” for my family and me.  This is true, and while there’s been many great things and some very special moments, there have also been some very tough moments and struggles.  This has been especially true for me personally as I feel like in some ways it has been one of the toughest struggles of my life.I’m not going to self-diagnose myself as I don’t have that capability and don’t want to take away from what other people have gone through and experienced.  For a lot of this season though I have felt like what I imagine depression is like.  My brain seemed to be only focused on negative things or worries and it often seemed to be attacking me with thoughts that I never ever imagined I would have and couldn’t believe were even there in the first place.  I’m a bit of a perfectionist and often harder on myself than I should be and so this was a vicious cycle that made it hard for me to focus on things that mattered and difficult to be fully present with my family.  I worried constantly.

I used the past tense above not because I am completely out of that state of mind now…because I’m not…but to talk about my experience in a way that also helps me realize how difficult life was for me in that state…and how far I have come since then.  And while I definitely see the value in going into depth about the struggle so that one can move past it, the point of this post is to talk about what has helped me overcome my struggle and get to the point where I finally feel I can write about it and feel myself returning to a person that I better recognize as me.

First and foremost my faith in God and the love of my wife have helped me push through this incredibly difficult time.  I have leaned on God out of sheer necessity rather than desire to be closer to him more than I would like to admit, but know that we often feel His presence most and get the most strength when we are broken and right in the midst of the storm.  My wife is my rock and she has shown incredible, unwavering support throughout this time.  I don’t know what I would do without her and hope that I don’t ever have to find out.  Her love and reassurance has been exactly what I need, and she hasn’t been afraid to push me and tell me exactly what I need to do as well.

My kids have continued to be so loving and amazing throughout this.  Focusing on the amazing things that they do and how much I truly love them has really helped me in tough moments.  They continue to show me unconditional love and remind me how truly special they are.

My family…all of my family.  Both sets of parents and each of my siblings have been supportive and encouraging and I continue to be thankful for their enduring love.  They have helped remind me who I am when I feared I didn’t know that anymore.

My friends, fathers group and my mentor at church who I have shared some of these difficulties with.  It is great to have a community of dads that I can share with and be empowered by.

Finally, and a point I want to really make sure I emphasize for all of you out there, especially other dads and men…I asked for help.  I reached out to my mentor and church and was setup with a counselor.  I realized I could no longer fight this battle without some professional help, and I am so glad that I did.  I know that it is difficult for lots of people to admit they need help, especially men and dads, but I cannot express how grateful I am that I did and how much this has benefited me.  I urge you, if you are struggling, if you are hurting and confused.  If your brain is fighting you and trying to convince you that you’re someone else or not worthwhile…don’t wait…talk to someone and let them help you by giving you tools to fight back.  

Our brains are powerful and mental health is not something to be messed with.  I know that I still have a long road to go and that I’m never going to be perfect.  But I also know that I’m not alone in my fight and that I’m never going to give up.

This is fatherhood…