Detroit 2020 Person of the Week: Chargers' Joe Barksdale opens up about battling depression

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Joe Barksdale is a tough offensive tackle for the Los Angeles Chargers, but he’s going public about his biggest battle off the field -- severe depression.

At 6’4”, 325-pounds, the man in the #72 jersey seems invincible.

Joe Barksdale was a Cass Tech football phenom, a third-round draft pick for the Oakland Raiders in 2011, and now – a key player for the Chargers’ offensive line.  He’s also a loving husband to his Detroit bride Brionna and a proud papa to his year-old daughter Kennedy.

You’d probably never guess that over the years the 29-year-old has tried to take his own life four times.

"I think some people think that people with clinical depression are just in a funk and just need to get over it. And so forth. And that's not the case. When I wake up in the morning on an average day, I feel like I just left a funeral. And some days you can talk yourself out of that, and some days you can't,” explained Barksdale.

Barksdale says he was molested as a child, bullied by older kids, and felt like a burden on his family growing up.

Brionna learned of his depression two years ago shortly after they got married, but last November was the real scare. After getting injured at work, Joe came home and started sharpening knives.

“He was talking, but he was not looking at me. He was just staring. I kept saying, ‘Can you look over here?’ He put the knife down and sat down at our dining room table, and I just let him talk,” recalled Brionna.

He’s being treated now for his depression and uses meditation and journaling to help.

He’s also put many of his emotions into music. Joe’s off-the-field passion is playing the guitar.

He and his wife wrote the song “Journey to Nowhere” about his battle with depression.

It’s now featured on Joe’s debut album released January 25, 2018.

"There are things I can say with my guitar that I can't say with my mouth or with my voice,” said Joe.

"He really wants to help people. He's like, ‘I think that's why I think I’m here.’ You know, when you feel the way you do, you really look for a purpose. And he's like, 'I feel like I'm here to help people. I got to try to help as many people as I can.’ So, I'm really proud of him for that,” Brionna said.

Opening up to help others is why Joe Barksdale is our Detroit 2020 Person of the Week.

You can find Joe Barksdale’s new album Butterflies, Rainbows and Moonbeams on iTunes, Spotify and Google Play

He’ll be back in Detroit for his annual backpack giveaway this July… and welcoming a new baby in August.

If you’d like to nominate someone for Detroit 2020 Person of the Week – please email us: personoftheweek@wxyz.com.

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