Former LSU Tigers and current Los Angeles Chargers offensive tackle Joseph Barksdale came clean to Los Angeles Times columnist Dan Woike on Friday regarding his long battle with depression that drove him to considering suicide.
Barksdale hopes that his story can help other people — including his fellow players — in coming forward with chronic depression:
The thoughts Joe Barksdale had wrestled with for as long as he could remember started to get louder.
”Just kill yourself. Just do it. What’s the point of living if you’re going to be this miserable the rest of your life? Just kill yourself.”
It was early November 2017 and Barksdale, the Chargers’ starting right tackle, sat in the team’s training room. He’d just found out he wouldn’t be playing in an upcoming game against Jacksonville after injuring his foot during a fight with a teammate.
He’d missed the previous two games with a toe injury that had been bothering him for more than a month. Now, he was going to be out again.
His severe depression — something Barksdale calls the “monkey” always on his back — had gotten the best of him. Truth didn’t matter anymore. Only sadness did.
He got home and sharpened a knife, his mind racing. His wife, Brionna, convinced him to put it down. They talked, he calmed, and the crisis was averted.
Barksdale, who is on medication and in therapy, is sharing his story in the hopes of becoming an advocate for people suffering from chronic depression.
”If I could save another person, maybe that’s why the attempts [to harm himself] didn’t work,” he said.
Barksdale revealed that his depression stemmed from physical, emotional and sexual abuse from his childhood, in which he “felt like a burden” due to his size and was bullied for his academic interests in inner-city Detroit.
“Everything that’s happened to me going forward has just piled onto it,” he said. “It’s not going away. They’re like tattoos.”
Barksdale has always been an interesting guy — he came to LSU from Detroit’s Cass Tech high school with an interest in engineering as the No. 6-rated defensive tackle, but wound up becoming a starting offensive tackle here. He was drafted 92nd overall by the Oakland Raiders. He worked his way into the starting lineup and has continued to earn work ever since with the Rams and now the Chargers.
On social media, he found an outlet for some fun movie reviews in the early days of twitter, and he’s since progressed into music. He released a blues album “Butterflies, Rainbows & Moonbeams,” which is available here on Apple Music.
The NFL isn’t exactly a world that smiles upon folks who can talk about problems outside of the game, so bully for Joe for coming clean, and here’s hoping he can continue to express himself and help other people with their problems.