Why The Words Matter More Than The Numbers Ever Could

(This was originally posted exclusively for those on the emailing list.)

When I first started Dadding Depressed, I was encouraged by readers’ excitement. The topic seemed to resonate with people, and many expressed their interest in joining the dialogue of mental illness in men, grateful I created the platform. I raked in clicks, visits, and views like it was a Fall Christmas, and the trees were extra generous this year. People reached out to me personally while others commented on social media thanking me for my boldness and insight. It was fulfilling to be back in starving artist mode, and I was proud to be the creator of something to which others responded positively. I knew I was doing something valuable.

Then, Mother’s Day came charging in like a leaf blower. I don’t know what it was, but my website-hit numbers dropped dramatically, and I was caught playing in a pile of leaves no longer there. The excitement of a high high was replaced by the discouragement of a low low. Maybe I didn’t live up to expectations – Maybe I disappointed – Maybe I’m not a relevant writer – Maybe I’m not a writer. Have I failed already? Disheartening thoughts weighed down my hours and slowed my work; negative self-talk reeled me into a dark territory I had been before.

Fortunately, I have a community who supports me, even when my numbers don’t. Messages trickled in from my wife, sister, good friend, and mother, all encouraging me to keep going, not get down – “it’s important work.” I listened and lifted my brow though a remnant frown lingered quietly.

Later, I received a notification on my phone. It was from the Lansing police.

[1:43 P.M.] “MERIDIAN TWP PD: We need your help finding Ross Baldwin, may be suicidal and we are trying to get him some help.”

My heart slumped but stayed beating. I continued on with my day.

Mr. Baldwin, a social studies teacher at a local high school did take his life that night. Mr. Baldwin was gone.

I don’t know his story, but I don’t necessarily need to know. He is another man fallen victim to the hibernation of mental illness. My heart breaks for him and his family over this tragedy.

Suddenly, the leaves don’t matter. Clicks, visits, and views are useless — numbers are meaningless in light of the words. Dadding Depressed exists, not for popularity, but for men — humans — who are hurting, silently-struggling. Depression in men is an issue, but the stigma that keeps them quiet is the bigger problem (Read my post, The M-E-N In Mental Illness). We need to take strides against the silence.

So, Dadding Depressed continues. And, suddenly, the words matter much more than the numbers ever could.

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5 thoughts on “Why The Words Matter More Than The Numbers Ever Could

  1. Hi Doug, I can definitely relate to these struggles as a writer. I battle it constantly, in fact. I ask authors and artists a lot about this struggle on my Behind the Curtain Podcast, I’d love to have you on sometime to talk more about it — and you may find comfort in other authors who struggle with the same thing. The struggle has become real fuel for me to depend on Jesus for my validation, it has enriched my personal time with him, but only through pain. I get constantly frustrated that I keep getting sucked in to still longing for and desiring the external validation, feeling I should be beyond that temptation and allure. But I’m not. I’m with you brother. The most concrete thing that has helped me is when one person writes and says how my book (or blog, podcast, etc.), has really helped them. It convicts me of my arrogance in only caring about numbers and not caring that God used me to drastically impact this one person’s life. Like that person doesn’t matter, when in reality they are the reason I do what I do and one should be plenty! I hang to those testimonies, though I still struggle with the desire for the validation (and the high) that the stats, etc. bring.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the thoughts, Noah. It is extremely encouraging to hear your testimony.

      It seems to me that it works in a cyclical manner. I write with freedom and purpose until I get dragged back into the numbers, binge and get high off them while desperate for more, and then I inevitably suffer from writer’s block. That’s where I’m at now: on the beaten side of the stats, trying to climb out with newfound inspiration. It’s definitely a challenge.

      I keep coming back to the thought that there has to be some sort of healthy balance to it. While a good message is good, if no one can hear it, it’s worthless. It must come down to the heart behind the effort (is it for people or popularity) and a resilient faith in a Sovereign plan that works beyond the comprehension of Google Analytics.

      Anyway, thanks again for your thoughts, Noah. I’d be honored to be on your podcast or even just grab a coffee sometime.

      Like

  2. Hey Doug, I meant to click to be notified of comments last time and missed my chance, so just seeing your reply now. Now I’m notified for future ones. I just re-listened to a podcast interview I did with Ted Kluck a couple years ago, it was an encouraging refresher. Ted experienced some huge highs early in his writing career, writing some award-winners, best-seller-types that he co-authored with Kevin DeYoung then has sort of experienced the gamut since. It’s at least good to know we are in good company. I’m a little self-conscious of parts of the interview since it was a few years ago and I was just starting out with podcasting, but the bulk of it, the stuff from Ted, is great: http://www.atacrossroads.net/behind-the-curtain-podcast-episode-2-with-author-ted-kluck/ Fast forward to today, man I got my butt kicked not getting a publisher for my book, after having an agent for several years and just getting rejected consistently. Learned a lot from that, am somewhat thankful for the independent path I’m on, but only somewhat!

    I’d love to get coffee, and would love to do a podcast with you. My new office should be set up within a couple of weeks and I’ll have a nice rhythm then. We just bought our first church building and are doing lots of renovations so things are a little crazy right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great! Thanks, Noah. I’ll check that podcast out. I appreciate the share. Let’s find a time to get together, for sure. Maybe message or text me when you’re all settled in. I’m pretty open and flexible in general.

      And I heard of your new location. Congrats! Can’t wait to see it.

      Liked by 1 person

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