LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Depression is not something you normally hear associated with NFL players. But tonight one local player is opening up about his struggles.
The LA Chargers’ Joe Barksdale shared his story with Jill Arrington.
Barksdale has long suffered from depression — a condition that has fostered ideas about taking his own life. This past November he thought about trying again.
“I started sharpening some knives,” said Barksdale.
It seemed like a normal day. Joe had returned home after an afternoon at the Chargers’ practice facility. Except he was in pain. Frustrated. More so than usual.
His wife Brionna heard him sharpening the knives.
“She came out. We talked. And crisis was averted,” said Barksdale.
What did Brionna say to help Barksdale off the ledge that day?
“I just want to talk,” said Barksdale. “She started with that. I think most people will try and think for you. Brionna was just ‘I want to talk. I’m not telling you what to do or anything. I just want to talk.’ ”
It wasn’t the first time he has harbored such thoughts. Barksdale believes his depression stems from multiple forms of abuse suffered as a child.
“I was 2 or 3 years old. My grandma left me in a car. It was a running car. I pulled the gear shift. The car backed out of the driveway. Went across the street. Smashed into a car across the street. My grandma took me home. Walked me right past both of my parents and beat me for a long time,” said Barksdale.
“For the longest time it was a running joke in my family and that is my first childhood memory. My second childhood memory is getting molested in daycare. If that is where your memory starts off you’re not going to have the best outlook on life,” said Barksdale.
The memories don’t go away with all the NFL success?
“Nah. If anything they get more vivid. Because you’re trying to run from something that you can’t outrun,” said Barksdale.
Barksdale has found a positive coping mechanism through music. A way to vocalize his depression in a less destructive way.
“Before I could sing about it I was able to express those feelings with my guitar. Sometimes there aren’t words for how you feel and you got to figure out how to get them out,” said Barksdale.
Barksdale has a baby on the way in August. Arrington asked if those are the kinds of things that Barksdale holds out hope for, that keep him strong going toward the light and not getting sucked back into the darkness.
“Yeah. That. And at the end of the day helping people. You’ve been somewhere and you see people going down that same path and you try and stop as many as you can,” said Barksdale. “That’s the goal. This is me trying to help people.”