I’m Telling My Depression Story Through Music

LANSING | DETROIT | GRAND RAPIDS | BRIGHTON | JACKSON

I’m doing a (mostly) solo house show series to continue the conversation about mental health that I’ve started with my blog, Dadding Depressed. Join me for an intimate evening with old and new songs in one of five Michigan cities.

FIND MORE INFORMATION HERE!

Check out my music at DMandtheCF.com

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So Your Friend Told You They’re Depressed–Now What?

When a friend or loved one confides in you about their mental health, it can be difficult to respond appropriately. It’s not uncommon to freeze–maybe hem and haw or awkwardly pat a shoulder before changing the subject to the Lions. If you take a moment and think about it, though, what an amazing opportunity you now have to deepen a relationship and affirm your love for a struggling soul!

Here’s an acronym to remember for that fragile moment. TABLE it. And, no, I don’t mean put the conversation off for later. Here’s what I mean: thank them, affirm them, ask big questions, listen more than you talk, and encourage them to see a professional.

(I’ve touched on these topics before, but I just came up with the acronym.)

Thank them

When a person trusts you, of all people, with their emotional cargo, the first words out of your mouth should be thank you.

“Thank you for sharing this with me.”

“Thank you for trusting me and our friendship with this part of you.”

“Thank you for opening up. I really respect and appreciate your vulnerability.”

No one ever deserves to hear the struggles of another person. When one individual opens up to another, it is nothing short of a gift–a precious gift that should be received with deep gratitude as a great honor. Never take someone else’s vulnerability for granted.

Affirm them

Don’t say “But you’re so smart, funny, bright etc.” It can be all too easy for a person prone to depression and anxiety to disregard your general compliments (especially when they’re shot out in desperation to fill the silence). Try, instead, saying something like this:

“I want you to know that, even now, I really think a lot of you. You’re special to me, and I’ve personally witnessed your positive influence in my life.”

When you speak from your own perspective, the truth you are stating is impossible to disregard. If the person says, “no, I’m not those things,” you can respond like this:

“I’m sorry you don’t see yourself as I see you. I would love to help you get to that point because you deserve to see it.” 

ask Big questions

Perfect the art of thinking with the individual instead of thinking at them. A listening ear is of much more value than a clattering tongue. Seek understanding, get to know this part of them, and help them think through thoughtful questions with question after question.

Often, questions come naturally, but here’s a general rule: because questions starting with the word why tend to feel aggressive and who questions feel needlessly accusatory, stick with what and when questions.

“When did you begin to recognize this part of you?”

“What kind of activities have you found either help or hurt?”

“When did you decide you wanted to share this part of you?”

“What can I do to help you?”

Remember, the sharing individual should maintain the control of the conversation. Your role is to seek understanding in a kind, loving, and patient way.

Listen more than you talk

Be careful not to butt in too quickly with your words of wisdom. There are so many thoughts crammed into their head that the person can’t hear anything until they word-vomit it all out. Listen, listen, listen, and then ask more big questions so you can listen more.

Encourage them to see a professional

You can definitely share some thoughts, ideas, or things that have helped you in your own struggles, but I think the best period for your statement is an exhortation to see a professional. This can often be brought up with a simple question.

“Have you thought about going to counseling or talking to your doctor about this?”

If they have, affirm them in their proactivity. If they haven’t yet, encourage them to do so, and ask how you might be able to help them take that step. Your friend needs you as a friend–a soldier on the frontlines of their battle–but they also need a professional to help them get to where they can begin to see themselves as you see them.

What are some approaches that have worked for you (either as a supporter or struggler)?

9 Ways I Should Have Seen My Bad Day Was Depression

Everybody has a bad day once in a while. DDquote

Or a bad week.

So when I found myself trudging through an especially rough couple of days about a month ago, I brushed it under the rug as a typical ebb to life’s ebb and flow. I embraced the mentality of “grin and bear it.” It wasn’t until my wife pointed these nine things out to me that I recognized there was more to my bad week than just the dice not rolling my way. I was in a depressive state.

1. I lacked energy and I was always tired.

2. I had a short fuse, was irritable, and quick to snap.

3. My closet was a mess, my life was disorganized, and I had apathy instead of ambition.

4. I lost my appetite. I had to choke down food, force myself to eat or be reminded to catch meals.

5. I lost confidence and second-guessed every project I’d been investing in.

6. I felt numb on the outside.

7. I felt anxious on the inside. It was as if depression were a rock clogging up my gears.

8. I distanced myself from people and social situations. I ignored phone calls, texts, and figured out ways to get out of commitments.

9. I picked my nails until they hurt or bled.

It can be easy to quickly excuse a bad day, and, sometimes, that’s not a terrible thing. But it’s good to have the vocabulary as well as the understanding of depression so that you can appropriately recognize the signs and learn how to best move on. In my case, I’m grateful for my wife and her caring insight into my life.

If you think there might be more to your bad day, and that–maybe–you deal with depression, take the next step by talking to a friend, family member, a counselor or a doctor. You don’t always have to grin and bear it.


What are some signs and symptoms you’ve experienced when in a depressive state? Comment below!

This System For Achieving Personal Goals Is A Game-Ender

I know what it feels like to be drowning in a depressive state, but, lately, I’ve been drowning in something else. Projects. 

It’s awesome, really. I’m thrilled to be starting a business, landing freelance writing gigs, playing music again, (making a podcast?) and selling our house while looking for a new one. I’m blessed to be drowning as a full-time side-hustler, but when everything’s evolving at once to the soundtrack of Shiloh wailing and Isaiah repeating the same word over and over, things can feel pretty overwhelming. I’ve found myself lying awake at night, unable to sleep due to a racing mind.

A week or two ago, Linds and I implemented something in our home that’s helped called “Golden Goal.” I borrowed the name. Our favorite online substitute teacher, Wikipedia defines the concept this way.

The golden goal or golden point is a rule used in association football, bandy, lacrosse, field hockey, ice hockey, floorball and korfball to decide the winner of a match (typically a knock-out match) in which scores are equal at the end of normal time. It is a type of sudden death.

Pretty much, the winner takes all–the final goal is the game-ender. You can win everything with one goal.

So, when it comes to our own personal objectives, each morning, we decided to write one golden goal for the day for each of us. If an individual accomplishes that single goal they win the day! It’s that simple.

Too often, we let ourselves feel overwhelmed by to-do lists and mounting phone reminders. We get caught up in all that we should do or shouldn’t do and we pile expectations on top of one another like they’re dirty clothes. But, what if we chose the day’s single-most important task and made that the main objective? Sure, you can accomplish other chores throughout the day (you probably should), but all that will figure itself out. You focus your energy on that Golden Goal.

We’ve found this system helps with communication, managing expectation, and providing a daily sense of accomplishment.

Here are three tips for starting your own Golden Goal system in your home:

1. Get a whiteboard and color markers

We use a whiteboard and we put it where everyone can see it (ours is in the kitchen). Each person in our family has a different color. I’m blue, Lindsey’s purple, Isaiah’s green, and Shiloh’s red. Each morning over breakfast, we discuss the goals for the day. That way, we can help one another throughout the day, and no one forgets what their goal is.

2. Make each golden goal achievable, but not too easy

It’s good to make your goals achievable, but don’t go cheap by making them too easy. You want it to be something you’ll have to be intentional about accomplishing. Otherwise, you’ll likely forget about it and you won’t get the sweet satisfaction of leaping over a hurdle.

3. Let every person have their own goals

Sure, you could think of something for every person in your family to do, but it’s important to allow others the freedom to have their own goals. My two-year-old’s goal has been to “love mama” for three days in a row, and that’s okay. It’s actually pretty cute.

Win your goal and win the day with the Golden Goal system. Let me know how it works for you!

I’m Back! Here’s How I Spent My Month Off

I took the month of August off from blogging on Dadding Depressed. In doing so, I had to remind myself of a few truths in order to grasp onto the freedom and rest I needed.

  1. Everything needs to breathe, and if I don’t allow this project to inhale, I’ll suffocate it, burn out, and probably quit (it’s happened before).
  2. People won’t forget about me if I take some me-time. And if they do, who cares.
  3. There are other projects to work on.

“Huh…so,” you say, “what are these ‘other projects’?”

Well, let me tell you. Thanks for asking.

RUNABOUT Coffee Co.JustLOGO_RCC

My wife and I are (finally) starting a coffee business. It’s the coffee shop that comes to you–a full espresso bar on wheels. We have been crunching numbers, designing logos, talking to people, shopping online, and we even had our first event, serving up an iced Chai.

Stay up to date and follow our story on our Instagram.

LETTERS House Show TourlettersFB2

In October, I’ll be playing a series of house shows. Yep, I’m a singer-songwriter too, so I’ve decided to join forces with myself. I’ll be performing house shows with a focus on a conversation about mental health. Check out the dates and get your tickets!

I Updated My Freelancing SiteDDMLogoFinaltrialmaybe

A new logo, a new portfolio, new connections, new gigs.

We’re Moving!

Well, that’s the hope. I’ve been decluttering our house and refreshing Zillow.

Time With Family

Shiloh turned three months old in August, Isaiah turned 2, and Lindsey turned 30. We have celebrated a lot, and I’m deeply grateful for a beautiful family to spend time with on the off months.

Anywho! Back to the Dadding Depressed grind. Please leave a comment or shout-out. Let’s keep talking/writing about mental health.

On Clint Dempsey And Being In The Right Place At The Right Time

In honor of Clint Dempsey’s recent announcement of his retirement, here’s a post a wrote about him a while back.

DADDING DEPRESSED

When I was a kid, U.S. soccer was…well…kind of a joke. Alexi Lalas was an athletic Carrot Top and took a second job as an underwhelming rock musician. Cobi Jones was like the cute little alien from Space Jam version of Jermaine Jones (same number and everything). Still they were the stars I looked up to in ranks with Brian McBride, Kasey Keller, Eddie Pope, and Eric Wynalda. Through the years, however, U.S. soccer has improved tremendously and has finally started to earn the attention of the entire nation. Certainly, Clint Dempsey has had a part in that.

The 34-year-old from Texas is the second top scorer in the history of U.S. soccer, has captained both the national team and the Seattle Sounders FC, and continues to show up as a dependable workhorse striker. All this achievement and more without a single smile. He is the definition of hard-ass.

I…

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Redefining My Day To Give 100 Percent To Things That Matter Most

I feel like I’ve been giving 20 percent energy to every aspect of my life. I’m a distracted father, a sheepish entrepreneur, I’ve been reading the same book for six months now, and when I write, I let my fingers do the thinking.

A large part of the issue, I’m sure, is that Lindsey and I are still adjusting to functioning as a four-person family. That makes sense. But I’m realizing another part of the problem is my lack of a personal structure. quotables_31035322 (18).png

I’ve not well-defined the different aspects of my life so everything is always one muddled mess, stirred together into a single pot like a vulgar stew. And, I’m realizing that if I can’t define my goals in life, I’ll never make proper use of my time. I’ll forever twiddle my thumbs, giving 20 percent to everything 100 percent of the time rather than 100 percent to one thing 20 percent of the time.

When I consider the most important things in life, I think of Lindsey, my kids, close friends, church, writing, reading, coffee, music, and relaxation. But even this list can be boiled down to three–relationships, work, and rest.

I want to be a great father, a successful writer and entrepreneur, and a person who actually deserves to relax on occasion. So, (here’s hoping) I can redefine each day by separating it into these three categories. And I need to actually make time for each–be proactive–make a plan–a schedule. Date-nights, roll around with my son, hold my daughter, get a drink with a close friend or network, plan, dream, learn, read, write, actually leave the house and get work done, or relax, turn off my brain and bask in the glory of a successful and well-defined day. Each hour of the day should have a purpose. 

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“A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.” – Charles Darwin

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What are the things that matter most to you? And, how can you redefine your day to give 100 percent energy some of the time to the things that matter most instead of giving 20 percent to everything all the time? What are your goals and how can you plan your day to achieve them? 

Fully invest in your relationships, leave work at work, and then, after you’ve given all you can, rest. goals_31500530.png

Seven Signs You Might Be Depressed

Everyone has their ups and downs, but when you feel like you’ve got more downs than ups, it’s time to ask more questions.

For men, it’s easier under the guise of “boys will be boys” to have one more drink than it is to address our emotions head-on. And, it’s more socially acceptable (or maybe excusable is a better word) for a man to eat more, drink more, sleep more, have promiscuous sex, be quiet, angry, stressed, or function as an all-around loner. But, despite the usual order, men deserve to thrive too, and some things we excuse as masculine might actually be signs of a deeper issue.

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Get Sunny With The Best Of June 2018

Why Am I So Angry All The Time?scream

“You’re in a small story, get a big story!”


Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade, And How To Live In The Age Of Suicidedeath-2421820_1920

“We cannot depend solely on shallow interactions and passive communication through the mirage of connectedness that we call the internet.”


How To Be A Father Of Twofullsizeoutput_10f

“I don’t want to parent like a production line.”


Welp, I Did It: How To Shave Your Balls Safely With MANSCAPEDpear how to shave your balls manscaped

“I lived simply by the motto, ‘doesn’t show, let it grow.’ And, boy did I. My wedding night was spent looking for a needle in a haystack.”


“We All Need That Person; For Me, It’s My Wife”molly-belle-73279-unsplash

“Humans expect from us and judge us and are disappointed in us, and all of that makes revealing our vulnerabilities to them that much harder.”

Talk To A Doctor About It

This is a guest post by T. Michael Kates.

I am a doctor, but I am not your doctor. This is not medical advice. The things I provide through Dadding Depressed are simply some ideas that you may want to discuss with your healthcare provider.

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“Do what is right, and do it now.”

― Atul Gawande

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When I get to my office in the morning, the first thing I do is look at the list of patients I have to see that day. As a doctor, you get to know a small percentage of your patients especially well. These are the people who are in the clinic every month to get lab work done, get the results of the pathology report, or just talk about their general well-being. Most of the time I know why people are there to see me.

But every day there is at least one middle-aged man whom I have never seen before. His reason for the exam is typically listed as “physical.” It is a joke in medicine that there are is one reason that men make doctors appointments: their significant other made them. Men, in general, don’t talk about their health; they don’t like going to the doctor. When they eventually do, it is for good reason, and these are some of my favorite appointments. You have no clue what you are walking into.

A large number of men are struggling with depression and anxiety as well as other ailments, but they are afraid to talk to a doctor about it. Simply acknowledging it and making a small step towards making a change goes a long way to fixing the problem.

As a health professional, I manage these diseases every day; it is one of my specialties as a family physician. If your family doctor is not comfortable treating you, don’t fret. They can give you a referral to someone who can.

If you are a man struggling with depression I encourage you to pick up the phone and make an appointment. If you are the significant other of someone who struggles with depression, encourage them to talk to a doctor. But don’t force them or make an appointment without their consent and knowledge as that can foster resentment.

At the end of my workday, when I have seen all of my patients and cared for everyone to the best of my ability, I go home, just like everyone else. See, Doctors are people too–people walking the same earth through all its seasons–ups and downs and light and dark–who simply want to care for other people.


37314958_10113091333629284_8917171225478823936_n.jpgT. Michael Kates is chief resident at UP Health System Marquette Family Medicine Residency program. He has a special interest in mental health and addiction medicine. When he isn’t working he is usually mountain biking or fly-fishing. He and D. Doug Mains used to be in a band together and remain good friends.