“My father didn’t tell me how to live. He lived and let me watch him do it.”
At the age of 28, my life changed for the better, I was no longer just a man diagnosed with depression, trying to figure out a new world mentally, but I was blessed with the gift of fatherhood.
The title was one of pride, a badge of honour, but linked with a level of fear. I was fearful because I questioned how I was going to be an example of manhood when I was not only struggling with depression, but I was fighting my need to be vulnerable and possess healthy masculinity.
My son is a carbon copy of me and one of the reasons why I do what I do. I promised myself when he was born that I would be a positive example of masculinity and would teach him that being a whole person can mean shedding tears and expressing emotion.
As Fathers, our job is complicated, and once we add depression into the mixture, it elevates the complexity. I want you to know that your diagnosis doesn’t make you any less of a father to your children, but allows you to impart additional life lessons to them.
“Being open, honest and vulnerable about who you are, and what you are going through will inspire young minds” – unknown
Dad’s out there; I want you to feel comfortable talking to your sons and daughters about your struggles, be open with them and ensure they are aware of the days when you are not 100%.
Please let them in on how it feels when you are not feeling like yourself when you wake up and struggle to get out of bed. Tell your children how it feels when an anxiety attack paralyzes you. Give them a glimpse into what it feels like when a past event creeps into your mind and triggers you, and you can’t shake it.
Keep being good fathers, and if you have slipped, give yourself some grace, get back up and grab the reins again. You won’t have all the answers, but you do have the tools.
Most of all, be open with your kids; it’s the best gift you can give them.
HOAM is here to help. We host virtual bi-weekly men’s groups where we discuss a variety of topics in an open, judgement-free space.
Next Bi-weekly Meeting: Thursday, August 6th, at 7 pm, please email, firstname.lastname@example.org, for more information.