I can remember growing up hearing the terms "depression" or "mental illness," and at the time they meant nothing more to me than someone being sad, per se, or just upset in general about something that didn't go their way that day. I was just like the next guy in the sense that it never occurred to me that this was a real thing. A dangerous thing.
Until I got out of high school and began taking on life as an adult, I never really grasped the term for what it was, and experienced not only what this felt like, but also encountered countless situations where someone close to me—or even just an acquaintance—was struggling with it.
I struggle with anxiety day in and day out, and at times, this can allow depression's cloud to creep over my head, forcing me to snap out of it and remind myself how fortunate/blessed I am. I have a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in, a beautiful wife and family, and I travel the country full time. Things could always be worse or things could always be better. I believe the way that you react to the situations in life, good or bad, defines your attitude and outlook on life.
"A condition of general emotional dejection and withdrawal; sadness greater and more prolonged than that warranted by any objective reason."
This is a definition for depression I came across when I sat down to write this.
To some, depression is a day-to-day ordeal, just fighting to live another day. To others, depression could be a "slump" that was caused by an unfortunate event in someone's life, which could potentially trigger a sadness they can't shake. Whatever it may be for you, there is always hope. Life is never bad enough to take your own life; you can always push forward. You can always overcome and find happiness beyond the despair you are feeling at that time. Ending your life is a decision you make that cancels out the opportunity for your life to ever get better.
While the statistic varies year to year, the one Gideon uses in our song "Expose" states that there are days when 3,000 people across the world take their own lives in the span of 24 hours. 3,000 people who felt as though they couldn't press on. That is a staggering statistic.
We wrote this song to encourage those struggling with depression/anxiety, and to also "carry the torch," for not only the ones who lost their lives to suicide, but also all those who were affected by this disease in any way. If just one single person hears this song and is encouraged to fight another day, our mission is accomplished.
To me, the most rewarding thing about being in a band is not being told that we had a great set, or that we are an individual's favorite band (although these are wonderful things I love to hear), but being told that we made an impact on someone's life. I appreciate eing told that our music and message helped dig someone out of their depression, or even something as little as that we helped them to go to the gym every day. Big or small, the impact that my bandmates and I make on people every day is much more important than playing an awesome show at our favorite venue in our favorite city. Those are great things and will turn into memories we will never forget, but I hope that when I look back on this awesome privilege, I will be able to say that someone's life was changed because of something we wrote/said/did.
I'd like to dedicate this op-ed and our song "Expose" to a young man named Lando Gladness from Birmingham, Alabama who took his own life in 2013. We all miss you, man.
Never give up. There may be pain in the night, but joy comes in the morning.