My Story Isn’t Over | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness

My Story Isn’t Over

By Chris Yandle

There are no periods in my story — only a semicolon because my story isn't over. I've long been an outspoken advocate for mental health and for men to openly share their struggles. And I have long way to go in continuing this work.

I was diagnosed with depression at age 16 after spending a year on the controversial medication Accutane to clear up my acne. As much as I would like to blame my depression on Accutane (the drug is known to have serious side effects), I was also predisposed to mental health issues. For a long time, I thought there was something wrong with me. I was a shy kid growing up. I was quiet. I was an introvert. I don't think my family knew how to handle an introverted kid.

As I grew older, depressive episodes became more frequent. My career path in public relations and high education did not help my mental health struggles. My job exacerbated my issues. Baylor University was one of the best places I worked at in my career. The four years I spent in Waco were, in some ways, the greatest in my life. However, when I worked at Baylor, I endured workplace bullying that my boss didn't encourage but also couldn’t stop. Two coworkers would continuously pester and pick on me — perhaps I was an easy target. People would tell me it was because my coworkers were jealous of me, but I always doubted this explanation. I couldn’t understand why anyone would be jealous of me.

While at Baylor, I noticed my mind and my demeanor changing. I didn’t like who I was becoming. I was spiraling. When I began sharing my mental health issues on social media, I was told to keep them to myself because "no one wanted to hear about them." I remember being told that speaking openly about depression was my way of seeking attention. In 2011, just months after the birth of my son, I had a mental breakdown. The weight of my job, the office politics and being the dad of two became too much for me. That year, I saw a therapist for the first time.

That was 10 years ago. Since then, I have attended therapy regularly. Two years after leaving Baylor, I had my first anxiety attack. Hours before I received a Rising Star Award in my industry, I had a panic attack because I knew those Baylor coworkers would be at the event. I had overheard what they told other people in the days leading up to the award ceremony. That treatment scarred me. I was ashamed.

Since leaving Baylor, I've made it a point to be more vocal about mental health awareness and advocacy. Every year, I raise money for NAMI to support mental health services in our state. I know thousands of people do more for mental health than I can, but we all play a role in destigmatizing mental illness.

On World Mental Health Day in 2019, I felt like I had overcome some of my demons because I became Dr. Chris Yandle after successfully defending my Ph.D. dissertation. It was a long road — one I never even imagined would be possible. Once I heard those words, I felt like my journey was complete. I am no longer ashamed of what I've battled and what I've overcome. I am grateful for the depths of my struggles. I am stronger for it. I am more vital to my wife. I am stronger for my kids.

Simply sharing my story isn't enough. For the last five years, I wanted to do my part in combatting our world's mental health crisis. Since 2018, I have raised over $5,000 for NAMI St. Tammany through the annual NAMIWalks campaign. By sharing my journey and raising money, I hope that it gives someone who is struggling the courage to ask for help. There are no periods in my story; only a semicolon because my story isn't over.

NAMI HelpLine is available M-F, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. ET. Call 800-950-6264,
text “helpline” to 62640, or chat online. In a crisis, call or text 988 (24/7).