This letter is late for a reason.
The medication I was taking for my depression stopped being as effective as it had been, and I’ve been switching to another medication. The process has been difficult, and many evenings have been spent fighting hard against the pull of despair.
This is not the sort of thing most parents want to tell their kids. You may be an adult by the time you read this, and it will still be a bit painful for me to tell you these things. Depression is a vicious thing, and nobody should have to deal with it.
In fact, one of my biggest fears about being a father was that I could pass along my genetic predilection for depression to you. It pains me to imagine you bearing this burden. And for several nights in a row, when I thought about writing you this letter, that’s what I thought about: your future, and what it may hold, and what kinds of struggles you might have with chemical imbalances in your brain, and the difficulty of finding friends and family who will try to understand them instead of just tolerating them.
It’s not easy. And I hope that my DNA didn’t set you up for a difficult life.
On the flip side… without the depression, I wouldn’t be me. And I don’t blame anyone in my genetic ancestry for this, so it’s silly to think you might blame me.
But really, it’s not about blame. It’s just that I don’t like the idea of you suffering.
The hardest part about depression, for me, is that I can see it affecting the people around me — the ones who love me — and I can’t stop it from happening. I can see people decide that I can’t be relied upon, or that I’m more of a drain on them than a benefit.
And it takes a lot of effort for me to realize that what I just said isn’t necessarily true. I still have many friends who love me and trust me and want me around; I even have a few who make a conscious effort to learn about my depression and how to help me.
I’m about to go away for a week. The ComedySportz World Championship is coming up, and it’s one of the happiest times I have all year. It rejuvenates me to be around people who accept me without question, and there are literally hundreds of those people at these events. They’re my “tribe,” so to speak.
So my advice to you this month — of course, be who you are. Whether that’s someone struggling with depression or someone who doesn’t, recognize the reality of who you are and figure out how to be the best you that you can be. And then? Find your tribe.
It may not be easy. You’ll learn that some friends are not as reliable as you thought, and that other people that you don’t necessarily like that much may be the best friends you could ever have. Finding your tribe may be challenging, but when you feel like you’ve found your home, you’ll know it in your heart.
I love you, Sage. Your mother and I both do, so tremendously. We’re proud of you, too; you go out of your way to thank people, to compliment them, to encourage them, and to apologize to them when you’ve been impolite. It’s an amazing thing to see in a four-year-old. You have a beautiful heart; never let anyone change that.