Amazing Dad: Danny Evans

Filed under: Books for Kids

Danny Evans opened up about male depression in his book, "Rage Against the Mushugenah," in an effort to help men talk about the disease. Credit: Sharon Evans

Amazing Dad: Danny Evans, 39, blogger, author and dad of two, who turned his struggle with clinical depression into an opportunity to open a dialogue between men about mental health issues in his book, "Rage Against The Meshugenah

Danny's Family: Wife: Sharon, married 13 years; Kids: Noah, 9, Julia, 7

Danny Lives In: Orange County, California

Why Danny Is Amazing: A year after Danny's son, Noah, was born, a series of events conspired to send him into an emotional tailspin. He lost his full-time job in the advertising industry, and was struggling to bond with his newborn son, a problem that took him very much by surprise.

"I think I expected that when my son was born, there would be this instant kind of bond and understanding between us," Danny tells ParentDish. "I was looking for a oneness with my child based on what I'd seen or heard about, and the truth was, I was having trouble establishing that bond."

Add in losing his role as the breadwinner and the emotional reverberations of the terrorism of September 11, 2001, and Danny found himself in a dark place. At first, he says, he tried to brush off his troubles using his trademark humor, which is so often in evidence on his popular parenting blog, "Dad Gone Mad."

"I think that's what initially got me in trouble," he recalls. "When an emotion came up that I didn't want to confront, I would make a joke about it. If I hadn't done that, I would have learned to deal with some of those emotions."

But soon even the jokes weren't enough to fend off the sadness and he found himself in bed one morning, literally unable to get up and walk the seven steps to the bathroom.

"Every single step was like a marathon," he says, with complete candor. "That was the point where I realized, 'This is not normal, and I need help.'"

Danny did seek help, from a therapist and from anti-depressants, and did the hard work of mining his own psyche. After what he calls "opening up his head and sticking his fingers inside," along with support from his wife, Sharon, Danny recovered and began to think about his lifelong dream of being an author.

Cover page of Danny Evans' book, "Rage Against the Mushugenah." Credit: New American Library.

He spent years thinking about writing a book, but always found ways to put it off. This time, he sat down and put pen to paper and the result is the candid and often hilarious memoir, "Rage Against the Meshugenah," about how men deal with depression. In our culture, he says, men are primed to push those "womanly" emotions aside and carry on despite sometimes crushing sadness.

"Men in my generation grew up as boys playing with action figures like Luke Skywalker and G.I. Joe," Danny says. "You needed to be rugged and fierce and emotionless and never show any weakness. It might have been different if I'd played with a Woody Allen action figure, but it was embarrassing to talk about."

Danny's book is written specifically for a male audience, he says, but thanks to his popular blog, it also caught on with women, wives whose husbands were going through a similar tussle with depression. "Knowing the way that my wife reacted, and seeing her confusion, I realize that help is necessary not only for the man, but also for his immediate female family. This is just a conversation that frequently isn't had."

Sharon Evans gets nothing but the highest praise from Danny, who credits her with being mother, father, breadwinner and spouse beyond compare during the height of his illness. "She was insanely supportive of me," he says. "Once she understood what was going on, she became my greatest anti-depressant."

Now, Danny says, his outlook on life is sunnier, thanks to the hard work that led him to self-awareness. He can spot the danger signs of depression now, and knows what his triggers are. He speaks openly about his depression and says he hopes his book continues to show his peers that it's OK to admit when you need help.

"I get emails several times a week from guys who've read the book and tell me that it moved them," he says. "I feel like its really having an impact, and that means so much to me."

But Danny isn't done opening up an emotional vein and laying it bare for the masses. He's hard at work on his next book, which will pick up where "Rage Against the Meshugenah" left off. "It's about turning 40," he says, "and thinking, 'What now?'"

Danny's Wife Sharon Says: "I am so grateful that Danny is open to therapy," says Sharon. "Had it not been for the depression, we may not have had the impetus to seek help. We are definitely stronger because of what we went through, and Danny really focuses on being present for the kids and me."

Fun Fact About Danny: Danny used to be a sportswriter before he got into the ad business, and he had a shot at getting Michael Jordan to answer one of his questions. "I asked such a stupid question," he says, "that all the other reporters laughed at me."

Recognition: "I won a "Best Daddy Blog" award several years ago, but I don't really focus on awards too much. I'm in it for the money. Kidding. Kind of."

Danny's Guilty Pleasure:
Kelly Clarkson songs

Danny's Best Advice: Seek help. Men are not trained to deal with "an ordeal" like depression on their own. Therapy and anti-depressants can help you climb out of the abyss. "It's not a commentary on your strength," he says. "If you had diabetes or cancer, you would treat it. Depression is a disease, too."

Related: Amazing Dad: Mark Frauenfelder

Want to see who else made the list? Click here for the rest of AOL's 2010 Amazing Dads!


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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.