Mo Bro Craig Starkey
Mo Bro Craig StarkeyImage by: Craig Starkey
Mo Bro Craig Starkey
26 April 2022

Craig Starkey - The Story Behind The Steps

4 minutes read time

We were in traffic at the church in my hometown, 100 yards or so from letting my mom out front. I was getting ready to drop her off so she could greet the hundreds of people that were coming to share their final respects to my father. Without hesitation I started beeping the horn to get everyone to move out of the way. Nobody knew what was going on but quickly started scurrying out of the way. It was my dad’s classic move, disruption, and distraction. I had the same grin on my face he would have had, and it was the first time I had seen my mom smile since he had passed away. Let me start by saying you may not know me personally, but my commitment to men’s mental health has, is, and will always be personal. I lived it. If I leave you with anything, stay committed to yourself, know how you want to spend your time, and treat others as if they are struggling with something; in most cases they probably are.

My commitment to myself and Movember stems from my father’s attempted suicide which led to his passing from organ failure. He struggled with depression and alcoholism for much of my childhood. I was young and never really understood the why behind any of it. Instead, I replaced my father as the man of the house, used humor to offset my emotions, and left little time to think through or process the things I needed to. As I grew older, I often used my unprocessed emotions as excuses for my behavior, self-neglect, and the under appreciation of the time I had and how I spent it.

I remember as if it were this morning - July 1st, 2021. I woke up and knew I needed to make a change. Depression in its many forms was staring back at me, much of what I am guessing my father, also felt. I never knew the effects of depression, I never slowed down enough to experience it. My body was starting to fail me. My mind was not at ease. I had pushed my family away. I was glued behind my computer and cell phone foolishly waiting for the next work email, call, and text. That morning was different, I was different, as if I were struck by lightning. Not sure if many people can relate to that, but everything had changed. I had hope, it was all still organized chaos being processed in my mind. No idea what I was doing, but I had no intentions of working, no intentions of completing the next item on my to do list. I left everything behind and started walking. I walked for about eight miles, almost at a snail’s pace, realizing I was really in terrible shape, and my feet were sore from wearing the wrong shoes. I laugh now, as I spend four to six hours a day working on my body and mind, almost obsessive about what type of shoes I wear, and had to convince myself to take my first day off in 2022 just the other day.

" I learned that when you are faced with tough choices or faced with life’s challenges you should do what makes you happy, not what is easiest. "

What did I learn? Where is this all going? Life had perfected teaching me how to operate at a high level but never taught me how slow down, regroup, or process overwhelming emotions. I was a highly motivated machine for all things, except for myself. I crashed and landed into Colorado, which was the best thing that could have happened to me as I needed something to make me humble again, something more than work, and Colorado brought me that. A total refocus of my energy into myself. Everyone is always anxious on how people will judge them and what people will think. I learned that when you are faced with tough choices or faced with life’s challenges you should do what makes you happy, not what is easiest. You have to be willing to risk everything. In this case I am pretty sure no one even noticed what had happened to me. I probably looked normal. I realize now that everyone is dealing with something, keeping hidden how they feel, or just busy with their own to do lists. It felt good to feel human, it felt good to be vulnerable. Back to the crash. I was sifting through the wreckage and all my bad habits. I found some good things, some good habits which I used as building blocks to start putting myself back together. Life will be forever changed for me, and I look forward to helping others change theirs. I share my story and focus my efforts on helping others as I know there are a million other people just like me that don’t have the luxuries, support system, nor the awareness to ask for help when they need it. Maybe I am weird, but every day I seek to feel more human; more willing to take risk.

#staystrongkings is my slogan for 2022. I chose it as it is a reflection of how we should treat each other as kings, instead of the judgmental world that we live in. As you live your life, find those people that stay and treat you like a king or queen, even when you are not yourself. They will provide the support and guidance you need to help you survive, put yourself back together, and the adventure of life that everyone should seek.