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By Mike Rosen

This week, the featured post is authored by MenLiving facilitator, Mike Rosen. Mike is a father, a 4th grade teacher and has been the lead on our Tuesday night seperation / divorce meeting since its inception.  

**Trigger Warning** This post discusses depression, suicide, and suicidal ideation, and some people might find it difficult. If you or someone you know is suicidal, please, contact your physician, go to your local ER, or call the suicide prevention hotline in your country. For the United States, the numbers are as follows:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255), or message the Crisis Text Line at 988 or 741741. Both programs provide free, confidential support 24/7.


I’m not a mechanic, but I know when there’s something wrong with my car. I’m not an HVAC technician either, but I know when my home system isn’t working. I’m not a mental health specialist, a therapist, a counselor, or social worker, but I can certainly now tell when something is amiss with my mental health.

This hasn’t always been the case. Throughout most of my life, I was of the belief that I was someone who would never struggle with depression. Not me! I judged those who I knew to be struggling as weak. I would hear stories of friends and acquaintances who were in the throes and think “Geez. You have it good, what’s the issue?” It was easy to ignore and judge, my ignorance is hard to admit, and feels tremendously embarrassing in hindsight.

My Mom is the daughter of an alcoholic, she is an alcoholic too. She practiced a pattern for decades that regardless of what was taking place in our family, in her life, in ours, everything was fine. No issues here! Everything’s good, right? Peace at any price.

I mention my Mom because I learned from her very early on how to NOT ask for help. How to shrink at home to not cause issues. How to fade, live small, and diminished. How to take on the weight of whatever I was feeling entirely by myself. I don’t need help because there isn’t a problem. I’m strong. I’m tough. I’m smart. Watch, I can be more stoic than you. Watch as I keep all my feelings inside. Watch as my communication skills remain basic at best. Watch as I learn how to avoid conflict because I don’t know how to navigate it. Watch as I isolate myself physically and emotionally. Watch as these patterns etch in my young mind and heart, continue through adulthood, and inform my approach to just about every aspect of life–people, school, relationships, work. I’m good, thank you.

Until I’m not.

14 years in, August 2017, my marriage began to really dissolve as we separated. I was the arrogant, scared, stubborn impetus behind a lot of the challenges, I moved out. I was now physically isolated from family and friends, living alone in a nearby apartment.

I’m fine.

But I’m not. Anything but.

I hurt everywhere–in my heart mostly. ‘What have I done? My boys, I miss them so much words can’t begin to explain. What.have.I.done? Who does that?’

In my head–’What is wrong with you? Why can everyone else figure these things out except you? What’s wrong with you?’

I fell into a deep depression. I lied to everyone on how I was doing and depression lied right back to me. I told people ‘I’m good!’ when I wasn’t. Depression lied and told me I was a failed husband, an awful Dad, an awful person, hardly worthy of much. It often asked me “Who would do that to a loving wife and beautiful kids?” I didn’t have answers and the abyss grew and grew.

I stopped running, which for someone who had been a runner for 34 of their 46 years at that point and who used it as a therapy tool amongst other things, was big. I drank more alcohol. I ate poorly. Depression lied and told me those were all great choices. I isolated and struggled in a vicious cycle that I didn’t even recognize I was in. I attended Men Living meetings and lied some more. “I’m good! Thank you!” and I repeatedly told my family I was fine. At times I actually believed it. Depression lied and said ‘Nice work, keep up the isolation. It’s easier.’

Yet just below the facade the pain was nearly unbearable. Any constructive outcome to separation and divorce seemed entirely unreachable. Any semblance of my worth and esteem was long gone, dissolved by the loneliness, shame, and guilt I felt. My boys were my biggest life force and I could see and feel the pain my choices had caused them. Lost, struggling, the fog of depression slowly invading every corner of my being.

I just wanted the pain to end. Please make this suffering end.

After months, the only reasonable way out felt like suicide. Through the fog I couldn’t see another option. I researched, information around all of it is abundant and remarkably easy to access in today’s world–methods, tips, efficacy rates, duration, common mistakes, pain levels, etc. Wow. Decision made. I made a list of ‘To Do’s’ to make it ‘easier’ for Lynette and the boys. Close this bank account. Done. Refund the deposits for my woodworking customers. ‘Why?” they asked. I found a truthful answer that ignored the reality. Done. Do this, do that. Done and done. The fog had fully enveloped my brain and the lies continued. Depression continually told me the world would simply be better without me continuing to inflict pain and sadness upon those closest to me and whom I purported to love.

It was a Thursday. I wrote letters to Lynette and the boys. Printed them out. Set them on the dining room table in my apartment. One began like this:


June 7, 2018

Dear Lynette,

It’s a beautiful, sunny June day, I can hear the sounds of kids splashing in the pool out my window, laughing. I should be grateful and thankful but the pain I feel is overwhelming. I just want it to end. I just want the pain to go away.


I continued with an apology, a plea to remind the boys how much I loved them and how sorry I was for messing things up and sorry that I didn’t do better and please, please, please know that I wasn’t giving up on them. It just hurt so much.

12 hours later I woke up, having fallen asleep from exhaustion on the floor of my bedroom, many missed calls from my therapist and Lynette. I hadn’t slept for days prior and was as close to suicide as I think I could come and as close as I ever want to be. I was as deep into the abyss as I’ve ever been and I’m lucky to be outside of it now. Depression lies and it’s hard to challenge it and call it out. It takes courage, it takes love, it takes time, it takes compassion, it takes connection, and it takes grace. There is an abundance of resources to help, some are linked at the end of this post.

MenLiving helped save my life. The examples and practice of connection, the trust, the openness, the non-judgmental way men show up for each other, for themselves, for me. They helped teach me self-compassion. They helped cultivate in me an openness, a vulnerability, and a transparency I never knew of. I owe an unpayable debt of gratitude to many–Todd, Frank, Eric, Shaun, Craig, Tony, Chris, Tim and every man who was a part and is a part of MenLiving now. You may not have known it at the time, but you were helping to save my life. This gratitude helps inform the commitment I’ve made and the work I do as facilitator on behalf of MenLiving.

Each June 7th since then, I take a bit of time to reflect and appreciate the entirety of my journey, though sometimes I haven’t even noticed the approaching date. Last June 7th, before our coffee was even poured, Kelly took my shoulders in her hands, looked me in the eye and said “I’m glad you’re here. The world is better with you in it.” and hugged me. Kindness, effort, compassion, grace, and love. I used to not believe those words Kelly spoke but now I do, I truly believe her and she’s right.

My invitation to you is this: reach out to someone you know, someone who you might think ‘Is fine.’ Call, text, email. Connect. Tell them about MenLiving. I know it’s easier not to, I fall into the same trap and there’s always reasons why I can’t or why it can wait or why I don’t want to. If you’re reading this and happen to be struggling, trust me when I say the world is better with you here. The world is better with that person you know who might be struggling in it. The world is better that I’m here too, I know that now. The world is better with MenLiving in it. Kindly spread the word and thank you for reading.


With Grace and Love.




Some resources are here.



  • Frank Naugo says:

    I love you Mike. Thanks for sharing your vulnerability, strength, and self with me and those who read this. The world is indeed better with you in and a part of it.

  • martin mcleish says:

    Thanks so much for sharing Mike. I did actually resonate very strongly. i had a similiar episode some thirty five years ago. i had got to the point of putting a noose around a beam and putting a forty gallon drum underneath it.
    i had been struggling with external circumstances for a lengthy period. i was also extremely isolated and that is a HUGELY dangerous state of affairs.
    I came home to find my home and business destroyed by fire and the only “person” i loved, my cat, apparently dead in the fire.
    i lost control of my thinking that afternoon. it scared the hell out of me. Suddenly there was this loud over riding voice telling me that the only way forward was the rope. There was a much smaller voice saying, ” but i dont want to.”
    the loud voice laughed at it.
    i sat down to meditate. i was terrified, it was like looking over a cliff into the abyss below.
    what saved me that night was the nine months of loving kindness/compassion i had done before.
    It swept over me and i cried the healing tears i needed to.
    After twenty minutes i got up.took the noose down, and kicked the forty gallon drum over. As the drum hit the floor i heard, Meow!!!
    My cat came up from under the floorboards. sheer joy.

    There is no shame in what happened to me. i got overwhelmed by adverse circumstances.
    The cure??? Connect and share what is going on. On my own i lost control.
    i am happy to talk about this…….a lot 🙂 in the hope it reaches anyone who is in danger of being overcome as i was.
    You are a very good man Mike

  • Steven D Kovacs says:

    Thanks for sharing that Mike. I have a few calls to make today.

  • Mike says:

    Frank, Martin, Steve–
    Much love and gratitude to each of you, I’m glad you’re each in my life…

  • Harry Hitzeman says:

    Thanks for sharing, Mike. The world is better for you. Live long and joyfully!

  • Scott Blumenshine says:

    Thank you Mike

  • Steven Fulmer says:

    Thanks Mike, it was a pleasure to meet you last night and an honor to read your story this morning. There is so much pain and suffering out there. It always feels weird to me to say it helps to know we’re not alone in our suffering, but it does. I so get the feelings that drove you to the edge, though I’ve never really been there. I don’t really feel like the world would be a better place without me. Frankly, the world wouldn’t notice if I were here or gone. But my daughters would, and I shudder to think what they would think of me. I’m glad you’re better and you have Kelly to take you into her hands and heart. The world is filled with amazing people that don’t realize just how amazing they are.
    Your challenge to call someone is apropos. I did so yesterday to a friend that apparently really needed it. We’re grabbing coffee Friday and he was grateful to hear from me. That felt good, as does finding this group. Thanks

  • Michael Baum says:

    Thanks for sharing Mike. It resonated with me too and I recall a specific date that I was very low a few years ago to which I am thankful I found the strength to get help. I appreciate you sharing your vulnerability.

  • Jay Potts says:

    Wow. Very powerful and a great lesson.

  • Jeffrey Tress says:

    Thanks for your open and vulnerable post Mike. You modeled here how more men need to be honest about male depression. Take care all

  • Mike says:

    Thank you men for the kind words and expressions. I’m grateful to be able to share the story in our collective space and it’s my hope it can help someone, anyone, in some way by putting it out there.

    Much Love…

  • AJ Sassaman says:

    Good morning, Mike,
    I just read your blog and a very sincere thank you for sharing. With tears in my eyes, I am responding with a new action for myself. To grab ahold of the depression, fear and realization that I have been struggling for quite some time. I have closed doors to friends that have asked the similar questions that you have addressed. “I’m fine”, is no longer an acceptable answer for me. I cannot emphasize enough how your post has hit me when I needed to be hit!
    I’ve made excuses to not attend your divorce and separation meetings but will make a conscience effort to attend.
    Again, thank you so very much!

  • Dan Kemp says:

    Thank you for being who you are, authentically and genuinely. VERY well written, very well said. I appreciate you, deeply. You have been a vital man in my life and have helped me in my own journey, more than you know. Thank you for your honesty and openness with this piece. I am grateful to have you in my life Mike!

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