I met Mark Meier last week just as he was about to mount his bike and cycle across the continent to raise awareness about depression in men. He was in Palo Alto meeting with Alan F. Schatzberg, MD, and researchers from the Stanford Mood Disorders Clinic (.pdf) just days before he was to begin the journey from San Francisco to New York City. (At Stanford, more than 150 research projects on depression and other psychiatric illnesses are under way.)
While he was daunted by the roadmap - crossing the Sierras and the Rockies is not for the faint of heart - he was exhilarated by it too; especially the scheduled events along the way where he'd be having conversations about the disease and raising awareness. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, more than six million men in the United States have major depression. Most men suffer in silence and are never treated for the illness.
Meier's own story is harrowing. Ten years ago, severely depressed, he was moments away from blowing his brains out. A shotgun in his mouth, ready to pull the trigger and a sound from another bedroom stopped him. I'll let you listen to this 1:2:1 podcast to hear more details about that day, but suffice to say, it's heart-stopping. (Depressed men commit suicide eight times more often than women.)
You can follow Mark's journey on his website.
Previously: Breaking the silence about depression among men