NFL player from Detroit shares story of his long battle with depression

Joe Barksdale shares story to help others battling depression

DETROIT – In the NFL, Joe Barksdale is known for his strength, but off the field, the Detroit native struggles to tackle depression.

Barksdale, an offensive tackle for the Los Angeles Chargers, said he's thankful to be alive. He tried to kill himself a couple of months ago after years of battling depression, which he kept secret until now.

Barksdale is 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 325 pounds. He seems indestructible, but his biggest battle is with depression.

"I guess I reached a point where you're miserable all the time," Barksdale said. "You're kind of wondering all the time, 'What's the point? What's the point of being alive if I've got to talk myself out of a funk every single day?'"

Barksdale said he hit an all-time low in November while sidelined with an injury. Coaches told him he would miss the Chargers' game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and he left practice with his head spinning.

His wife, Brionna, found him in the kitchen with a knife, ready to kill himself.

"I feel like I am at a funeral," Barksdale said. "You just feel grief, pain and hopelessness, helplessness."

Brionna calmed him down and listened to him.

"You get to a point in your life where your normal is someone else's miserable, so your miserable is hard to explain to other people," Barksdale said.

Barksdale is now being treated for depression. He's relying on his wife and their 1-year-old daughter, Kennedy, to help him on his journey.

Barksdale said he's been depressed for as long as he can remember.

"If you're feeling down and sad, people tend to look at you and say, 'Oh, you're just having a bad day. Just get up out of it, Nothing lasts forever,'" Barksdale said.

He said he's opening up to try to help others with similar struggles.

"I want to speak up for the people that have been trying to for years, to say these people's issues are legitimately valid, and I know from experience," Barksdale said. "So the main goal is just trying to help other people who might be going down that path, but at the end of the day, I'm just trying to save and improve the quality of lives."

Barksdale said, like football, music and his guitar are an outlet for him.

"I aspire to be one of the best guitar players of my generation," Barksdale said. "It's got me to be more comfortable with who I am. I mean, I'm a professional athlete. I'm a dad. I'm a husband, brother, you know, teammate, mentee, mentor. I'm also an artist. I'm also depressed, and at the end of the day, it's just who I am, and the more we embrace who we are, the better quality of life we can have."

Barksdale just released his debut album, "Butterflies, Rainbows and Moonbeams" on iTunes, Spotify and Google Play.

He has a new baby on the way in August, and said he has a lot to look forward to.


About the Authors:

Derick is a Senior Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.