I Have A Family, But I Struggle With Depression And Addiction, So I Made This Children’s Book To Help Explain It
It started when I was 16. I would suffer through bouts of depression and anxiety off and on over the next 20 years. In 2012, I attempted suicide. It was a long time coming. For many months, I was depressed, drinking every night and smoking copious amounts of weed. I was making horrible decisions with my work, marriage, and children. I spent 2 weeks in the local psych ward, got a change in medication, and started seeing a psychiatrist regularly. For the next year, I did my best to cope, but ultimately, I needed another stay in the hospital. The mental health system here in Saskatchewan is lacking and it was very tough to navigate. Eventually, I seemed to level off as long as I was constantly high and drunk. After a couple of years, however, the weed and booze just made things worse and I was starting to spiral again.
Illustrations by Jessie Stueck.
After I wrote my draft for this book in 2016, I felt I was going to harm myself again, so I was hospitalized
One night, when I was in my garage drinking and smoking pot to numb my mind, I could feel I was hating myself all over again. I thought about my kids and all that they have seen me go through and what they must have felt.
I left my garage and sat down at my kitchen table, where I began sobbing. At that moment in 2016, I began the first draft of a children’s book Sometimes Daddy Cries. Once I was done writing, I woke my wife up because I felt I was going to harm myself yet again. She began to make phone calls to health professionals and eventually was told to take me to our local hospital.
“Daddy can rest for a long time!”
The need for writing this book came from our inability to explain mental illness to our children before the episodes have even occurred
I felt the need to write this book because my wife and I didn’t explain mental illness to our children before my episodes. What I didn’t do inspired me to write a book about what I should have done. I’m hoping this book will normalize mental illness in children, not just for their parents, but for everyone. By comparing mental illness to a physical ailment, children can make the connection and find empathy for those suffering.
It was a fine line to make the book with realistic expectations of mental illness but without making it too gloomy or too fluffy.
“Daddy needs help from doctors and nurses”
My book took 4 years to make, in parallel with my sobriety
Today, my book is finally complete and it has been launched. It took four years in the making along with my sobriety. The best thing I ever did to help rid myself of anxiety and depression was to get sober.
Sometimes Daddy Cries is told through the eyes of a boy whose father suffers from depression. He sees his dad get sad, rest, and even go to the hospital, all while comparing his father’s depression to a physical ailment.
Ever since that scary incident, I’ve been sober
That was four years ago and I’ve been sober ever since that scary, drunken night that I wrote the first draft of my book.
After a few months of being sober, I spent 28 days in Pine Lodge Addiction Center. After leaving Pine Lodge, I would often return to speak to the other addicts and one year ago, I became a staff member there as an Addiction Support.
“Daddy is having a good day!”
Getting to visit grandma
“Todd’s book is a timely and important book that will help countless fathers and sons broach the subject of depression”
Since the launch of the book, it has gotten rave reviews from parents and professionals. One review states:
“Todd’s book is a timely and important book that will help countless fathers and sons broach the subject of depression. It sets the right expectations, acknowledging that living with depression is a process, and is best met with social support, love, and understanding amongst one’s closest families and friends. I am grateful this story has been told”
—Enzo Verr, Masters Degree in Cognitive and Developmental Studies, York University
Hospital family visit, 2016
Happy and healthy on a family trip, 2019
My son holding a sign at a local mental health rally that a friend and I organized, 2018
Local media promoting Sometimes Daddy Cries, 2020
My book finally arrived
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