Shared story from Duncan

Want to see a smile light up a room? Take my 16-year-old son out to the range. Who doesn’t smile after shooting your shotgun but the smile expands and shines when you’ve got a great group. Days at the range with my son are the dreams of every shooting dad. My son and I don’t make it to the range often these days; let me explain.

Teenager enjoying the shooting range

This story is an ongoing battle that one day will have a positive and impactful outcome to encourage others. Today it’s a story of battles and battles.

In the age of social media advance and recommendations for everything under the sun, there is still an unacceptable topic to post about. The stigma around mental health is real and although everyone will post their opinions and voice thoughts and prayers the words end there.

As the parent of a kid in a daily battle with depression, my heart breaks as I can’t fix it for him. I can’t take him for x-rays to see healing in progress. This is a battle of the heart and mind – in this case, the heart needs to win out over the mind.

Over the past 3 years, we’ve gone from dealing with what appeared to be a severe concussion to dealing with depression. Unfortunately, I failed as a parent in catching that we were no longer dealing with the healing process of a physical brain injury but rather dealing with the results of the brain injury.

The stupid stigma we put on it only prevents people from getting the help and support they need.

Our family is now fighting in the open. He’s still the wicked smart, strong, talented, and a loving kid he has always been – how anyone can pull the grades and achievements he’s done through this battle does nothing short of amaze me.

We have battled with limited local resources and ridiculous wait times for access to providers. Living in MA, considered to be the top mental health provider, we have faced months of wait time to be seen by various care providers. Being the type to go all-in, we travel between 1.25 and 2 hours now for professional services (provided in NH).

The school, teachers, and support staff have been awesome in providing care for him. I am amazed at the level of support his school system has provided for him, living out in the boondocks I would not have expected the resources provided. As this adventure took us into high school and darker levels than I could have imagined, the school stood with us. As we found limited reasonable access to services in our area, I thanked the school for their help and mentioned that I will become an advocate for mental health awareness. I assumed that the advocacy role would begin when the issues were nicely wrapped up and behind us.

Well, I underestimated what this battle would be. I am here now shouting from anywhere possible mental health is not unlike date-rape — it’s health! It’s rape! Let’s stop with the stigma and classifying things that we don’t like and get down to the business of helping each other.

I am submitting this story to WTTA not to say I have any answers; but rather, to say join me in the open fight around our health. It was from my conversations with the founder that I realized fighting in the open will eliminate the stigma and make health just health. Some days we just need a shoulder to cry on, hand up, tourniquet, an encouraging kick or someone to blow our horn about how great we are!

Let’s be part of the fight! Let’s fight together and stay healthy and raise kids that look at health as mind, body, and soul.

The battle isn’t over but the quiver has been restocked with some new tools. The desire to succeed is still in place. I have every confidence through this battle will be a great win and the final chapter of this story is yet to be written but it will be a great one.