Depression Hits During A Father’s Day Week of Success, Envy, Pride and Guilt

I held the book in my hands and turned to the table of contents. My name in black and white. Twice. “I’m published!” I thought. “I’m really published!” A little electric jolt awoke my stomach’s butterflies. But lurking beneath the jolt like a cancerous cell was envy and self-flagellation and the irrational side of my brain yelled, “So what? You’re not on The Today Show! You’re not on Good Morning America! This is nothing! You’re nothing! You’ll never reach that pinnacle!” What exactly is that pinnacle? I have no idea. But my depressive brain seems to know or at least claims to. The butterflies fell ill, calcified, settled in my chest and belly like stones.

It didn’t matter that the same day I saw my stories printed in Dads Behaving Dadly: 67 Truths, Tears and Triumphs of Modern Fatherhood (available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble), I debuted on with a paid story about the first time it hit me I was a dad and was listed on Mike Reynolds’ awesome site as an important dad blogger to read. It still wasn’t good enough because I still haven’t hit Huffington Post or appeared in a commercial or sat next to George Stephanopoulos on a talk show set.


I held my book and despaired and screamed at myself to “STOP!” I pinched myself hard enough to leave a welt.

This is such an important week. For the first time I can recall, fathers are being celebrated across the country in a way they never were before. Dove Men+Care debuted a tearjerker of a commercial showing dads as real, significant, beloved, responsible people:

Today Moms changed its name to Today Parents. My friends and fellow dad bloggers attended the first ever summit on working dads at the White House. Friends and fellow dad bloggers, people who have been so kind and supportive to me, have appeared and will continue to be featured on The Today Show and Good Morning America throughout the week. A great friend nabbed a job writing for Friends and fellow dad bloggers took park in huge brand campaigns about the changing views on fatherhood. Andy Hinds wrote about how 2014 is the Year of the Dad. And I’m so happy for them. I’m so proud of them. And I feel so damn envious that I’m NOT them. And coupled with that envy is this corrosive guilt, something my therapist constantly reminds me serves no purpose except as ridiculous self-castigation.

I’ve been blogging for less than a year. In that time I’ve created some sort of presence in the dad blogger community that I don’t understand because I feel my work sucks. I’ve spoken at the 2014 Dad 2.0 Summit. I’ve seen my writing appear on The Good Men Project and at the National At-Home Dad Network. I’ve been on the Life of Dad podcast and the NYC Dads Group podcast. The NYC Dads Group blog has shared my blogs as well as original work for their site. And each time something happens I feel that jolt of pride and joy followed almost immediately by that acidic, destructive jealousy and shame.

My brain, my ludicrous, hateful, powerful brain refuses to let me enjoy these successes and realize that having near 290 Facebook likes just weeks after launching my Raising Sienna FB site and near 270 Twitter followers is enormous, that it took some dad bloggers years to reach those numbers, because I’m too busy comparing myself to those dad bloggers with 95k likes. I’m too busy measuring myself up against the “big boys,” the ones that have sweated and worked for 3, 5, 7, 10 years to reach the levels they’re at. I’m too busy telling myself I’m not good enough because I’m not them.

I become obsessed with symbols, be it getting on a big website or television show or having a former teacher promote my work on her site or be picked to participate in a big campaign. Right now that symbol is getting on Huffington Post. Nothing compares to getting my work on HuffPo. I’m desperate to get on the site and each time I see a friend of mine share one of their HuffPo pieces, I’m so proud of them and so so covetous. I’m also extremely thankful to my fellow dad bloggers for lobbying HuffPo to print my work and because I’m so jealous, I don’t think I’m deserving of their kindness. But regardless, the point is that should I somehow reach the HuffPo level, I’ll feel that similar jolt of excitement and then it will be buried by whatever becomes the next symbol. I’m as yet unable to enjoy the present, the gifts I’ve received, the things I’ve accomplished. That’s what depression can do. That’s how strong and insidious this disease is.

I’m working so hard to get out of this treacherous, sickening mindset. I scream at myself. I physically slap or pinch myself to bring me back to rationality, but so far the irrational side of my brain is as imposing as the 700 foot ice wall from Game of Thrones and seemingly just as punishing to conquer.

But I’m not giving up. I REFUSE to give up. I’ll continue to go to therapy. I’ll continue my regiment of meds. And one day I’ll climb that wall. One day I’ll be able to look back at all the things I’ve done as successes instead of thinking about all of the things I haven’t done. One day I’ll be able to hold my next book and enjoy it for more than a few minutes. I’ll bask in my triumphs for days, weeks, months, years. The present will hold deep meaning. And I’ll no longer covet my friends’ feats thus eliminating that horrible guilt from my life. I’ll virtually jump up and down with them and revel in their accomplishments. One day there will be no despair. Nothing but pride and happiness.

One day.

Now I’m off to go sign Dads Behaving Dadly for my parents.

12 thoughts on “Depression Hits During A Father’s Day Week of Success, Envy, Pride and Guilt

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    June 11, 2014 at 12:27pm

    I can’t say you shouldn’t think that way, or feel that way, because here’s a secret: Everyone feels that way sometimes. Even those guys with the 95K followers. Even the guys on the big, national campaigns. Even the guys on GMA and the TODAY Show, or in HuffPo, or contributing to TODAY Parents. That twinge of envy, blended with a sense of pride in and love for our friends, is the hidden energy that gives our community the spark it has. You’ve become a vital part of that community. Keep going, Lorne. Keep going.

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      Lorne Jaffe

      June 12, 2014 at 8:41pm

      Thanks so much, Carter. It’s so hard to imagine that upper echelon feeling that way, but rationally I know it’s true. And I guess I shouldn’t refer to it as an upper echelon. That’s falling into a trap. I’m so honored to call you a friend. I won’t stop fighting this damn brain of mine

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    June 11, 2014 at 12:34pm

    I know just what you mean Lorne and I’ve been fighting it too. On the one hand, I am really happy for our fellow dad bloggers. They are good guys and good writers. Their success good for all.
    My disappointment comes from not being part of their ranks. It’s hard for me to get away from the thought – why not me?
    By the way, I have been blogging for nearly 3 years. My f.b. page is a few months old and I have just over 100 followers and I have not even bothered with twitter yet.
    Feel good about the successes you have had and I will try and do the same.

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      Lorne Jaffe

      June 12, 2014 at 8:38pm

      Thanks so much, Larry. Yeah, it’s almost like an unofficial ranking system that leaves us wondering why we’re not there. But we have to remember that we are part of their ranks because they consider us part of them even if our numbers don’t match. It’s so hard to remember. It’s so hard not to compare. It takes all my strength and I still fall short. But I won’t stop trying. I’m trying hard to feel good about my successes (I cringed at writing that). To even REALIZE they’re successes. I’m here for you as much as you’re here for me. Never forget that

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    Daddy Files

    June 11, 2014 at 1:05pm

    You are not alone and these feelings are not unique to you. They may be more intensified inside your head, but they exist for us all.

    I’m not going to remind you of how successful you’ve been in the short time you’ve been doing this. Because you know that. You know that you’ve done in a year what it took me 3 years to do. I just hope you find a way to value it — to really examine it, cherish it, and feel that burst of pride for longer than a fleeting moment. You deserve that.

    And you might not want to hear this, but I hope the envy doesn’t entirely fade. The fact that I’m among giants makes me feel guilty and inferior at times, but it also makes me work harder and strive to be better. That’s not a bad thing in moderation.

    Bottom line — you’re doing a great job and there are some bloggers out there feeling this way ABOUT YOU. Value yourself as we value you, buddy.

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      Lorne Jaffe

      June 12, 2014 at 8:35pm

      Thanks so much, Aaron. I never see the other side, that people might be jealous of me, because I have so much trouble imagining it. I’m trying to. I need to stop letting the world dictate my value as you said. I’m so grateful to have you as a friend

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    June 11, 2014 at 10:41pm

    Another great post Lorne.

    Everyone is a little envious at times. It is something that can never be cured. Keep doing what you’re doing because you are reaching your audience.

    Keep it up buddy.

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      Lorne Jaffe

      June 12, 2014 at 8:31pm

      Thanks, Jason. I always forgot that others are envious. Depression is THAT narcissistic a disease. But I’m working on it

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    Tonia L. Clark

    June 12, 2014 at 12:40am

    I’ve been in the mom blogger networking for so long that it has never dawned on me that dad bloggers are going through almost exactly the same ordeals and emotions as we are. I too have only been blogging for about a year and found myself comparing my work constantly with others. I have made many friends in the blogosphere and one thing is clear, we all have our talents, we all have our strengths. Thank heavens for our differences, otherwise it would be very boring to read each others writing. Rather than try to be better than everyone else, I am instead trying to be the best than I can be. It’s much more rewarding and I’m not beating myself up as much.
    Lorne I feel for you and your struggle with depression. I come from a long line of family members who have been through similar struggles. I’ve lost three family members to suicide in fact.
    I hope and pray that you will be able to grab hold of and climb out of the darkness that has held you back for so long. It’s not an easy climb, but I pray you find the strength and will to continue your journey. I believe your writing is essential and needs to be heard by others who are may not have the voice or courage you have. Thank you for that. Stay strong my friend. We need more Lorne Jaffes in this world.

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      Lorne Jaffe

      June 12, 2014 at 8:34pm

      Thanks so much, Tonia. I’m truly honored by your comments. That’s unreal about your family members. I’m so sorry about that. I’m not sure what to say about the last things you wrote about there needing to be more “Lorne Jaffes” in the world and my writing is “essential.” That’s stuff that trips me up, but at the same time I’m thankful for you saying it. I promise to keep fighting!

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    June 12, 2014 at 3:10pm

    You are making it happen. Give yourself permission to be happy and give yourself permission to be antsy, both are common and normal.

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