Chimneyside Chats with Joe Barksdale

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Gather 'round the open fire for Chimneyside Chats - a monthly feature with holiday stories from our favorite artists. See what's in their stockings this year as they reminisce on Christmas memories, share their favorite recipe and more! Here's what musician Joe Barksdale had to say:

Only a few weeks had passed since I tried to kill myself and it seemed like Christmas had come overnight since that event. I remember feeling numb and waking up angry because I was still alive. I remember wondering if my wife had gotten a good night’s rest since the episode that happened a few weeks ago. I remember wondering if I would ever be happy to be alive again, or happy at all for that matter…I had recently started meeting with a therapist and taking antidepressants and I felt like I was going backwards, like I was getting worse instead of better and I was frustrated about that as well.

After a few minutes of private self loathing, I got up and went through my normal routine of brushing my teeth, moisturizing my hair and so forth. I remember trying to get excited, or at least trying to fake it so that I didn’t ruin everyone else’s holiday. My sister-in-law and a friend of hers were staying with my wife, daughter and I for the holidays and I didn’t want to spoil all the fun. I told myself how excited I was to see my wife open the presents that I had gotten her, how excited I was to see my daughter open gifts...

I got downstairs and it seemed that everyone hadn’t been awake long so I was relieved that I didn’t have anyone waiting on me. As everyone else was opening gifts and having fun, their joy began to bring me out of my own head, if just for that moment, and for that I was grateful. That’s when I realized that my wife was standing in front of me with a beaming smile holding a small box that “is definitely going to be the best gift you’ve ever gotten on Christmas!” I started to unwrap the box and noticed that there was a poem written on it. I read the poem full of curiosity and anticipation and as I opened the box to find the end of the poem, there was also an ultrasound picture.

I froze, and for the first time since that episode that I referenced earlier, I felt hope. I felt like I had a purpose and also realized that now I had a wife and two daughters that needed me to be here and that was the day that I decided to do all that I could for myself and my mental health so that my family wouldn’t have to live in a world without me. It was at this moment that I realized that I could be the parent that I never had to my girls…I could be a great father and provide them with a great upbringing so that they don’t end up fucked up like me. 

I know this isn’t the most happy story, but it is one of the happiest memories that I have related to Christmas, and it’s also the best Christmas gift that I’ve ever received: Kendall E. Barksdale.


Learn more about Joe Barksdale and listen to the song he chose for our Chimneyside Chats playlist!
"This Christmas" by Donny Hathaway