I had a chance, last week, to catch up with D.C. music producer/song writer, and owner of Fire Drop Music Group, Don Cox. Don is a humble, down to earth brother with a powerful story that he wants to share with men by exposing the often silent, inner battle that men have with depression. Depression is a form of mental illness that so many men, particularly African American men are fighting through, often unaware or in silence. It is one of those issues that rarely gets talked about, but in recent years more attention is being shone on depression to the rise of instances of depression and suicide amongst African American men. But Don Cox, wants to bring the discussion to the forefront, in hopes that men will be begin to open up about this growing problem that is on the verge of being labeled an epidemic.
Don’s Story: A Business Man, A Husband and A Father
Don and his wife have been married for 16 years, they have four children — two boys and two girls. He has always been into music, but in the late 1990’s he really started to get serious about his music. Of course being from D.C., Don was into Go-Go music, as well as Hip-Hop and R&B.
While he was producing music, he was also working for the federal government. In 2005 Don left his job with the federal government to take care of one of his children who was fighting through severe bouts of childhood asthma. He shared, how it was a blessing to be able to leave his job and take care of his daughter. Yet at the same time, being a husband and father without a steady income was a real challenge to his sense of being the head of household. He recounted, times that his children would bypass him and go to his wife when they needed things, because he was not working. His career as music producer was still there, but as is often the case in the music industry, the money was inconsistent at times. It was a real time of adjustment for Don and the entire family.
Fatherhood Song and President Obama
Around the same time that Don became a stay at home dad, focused on taking care of his daughter, he also teamed up with Tray Chaney who played Poot Carr on HBO’s The Wire. Together they produced positive songs that as Don put it, “made fatherhood cool.” Their 2012 song Fatherhood, was recognized last year by President Obama at the annual Fatherhood and Families Conference, for it’s positive message and was featured on BET’s 106&Park. Individually, Don was also selected to represent the state of Maryland by the makers of Bounty Brand Towel’s, as they recognized him as being a great father.
Outwardly, Don’s life was reflecting all the things that every father and husband wants to portray, and every wife wants in her home. He was a sacrificial father, a dedicated husband, balancing a career in the music industry that was being recognized from the local community all the way to the White House. Yet inwardly, Don labeled himself, at that same time, as being “mentally locked up.” All the accolades, the recognition, the positive music, the great family life, none of that was registering. Despite every positive in his life, Don had a negative outlook on everything good that was happening to him. Instead, he met anything that appeared to be good, with suspicion, negativity, and doubt. He did not know it at the time, but now as he works through what he describes as a near “breakdown” in 2012, he realizes that back then he was battling depression.
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