Are There Any Questions?
Does Oprah know that the Gallagher family that she touted as HAPPY and
featured on her show twice shattered a few years later?
Several years before depression ravaged our family, my wife
wrote a book titled Raising Happy Kids on a Reasonable Budget. The
Oprah film crew came out to our suburban Philadelphia home and
filmed a segment which aired on the show. Then Oprah arranged
for Trisha and Katelyn to fly to Chicago to be guests on the show.
The show re-ran a year later. We sent Oprah an email but we have
not heard from the Oprah Show.
Why did your family tell everybody that you had been in a car
There is such a stigma attached to the word suicide.We were beyond
shock that this could have happened to us. I was so logical
and just a regular type of dad. All of this seemed so unbelievable.
We were very active in our community and I guess we just didn’t
want anybody to judge our family and talk about us. What we have
learned through all of this is to never judge anyone. You never
know what a person or a family is going through, unless you “have
walked in their shoes.”
Why didn’t you even tell your father the truth?
My father was at the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s. I was so
embarrassed about the possibility of losing my job and I didn’t
want my father or father-in-law to know about the corporate
downsizing. I guess my identity was tied to being a good provider
and protector, the same values I learned from them. Losing the job
made me feel like a failure.
What has been the impact of your secrecy on your four
It was hard because we did not tell extended family, friends,
neighbors and church members what had really happened. We
told them to say I was in an accident. This led to them isolating
from their friends because they were afraid they would say the
wrong thing. It also taught them that depression was shameful.
What were the effects of living with a dad who had depression
and a mom who was trying to pick up the pieces of the
To the children, it was confusing. Their dad didn’t want to talk
about anything and their mom wanted to talk about it a lot. We
separated, and three of the kids moved to a new town with Trisha.
Robin moved in with Mom Mom. I lived about 45 minutes away
from them for about a year. Then, I moved to an apartment a few
minutes from their house. New schools, new friends, and a new
lifestyle but we all adjusted and thrived. I am so very proud of all
Why did your family decide to write a book titled NO MORE
SECRETS – A FAMILY SPEAKS ABOUT DEPRESSION,
ANXIETY AND ATTEMPTED SUICIDE?
On January 20, I read a feature story in The Philadelphia
Inquirer about a young man who had jumped nine stories from an
apartment building. “Out of the blue” that day, I said , “I am not
going to let this happen to one more family. I am going to write a
book. I said to Trish, ‘Can you call all of the kids to our house for
dinner tonight? I want them each to write a chapter.’ Katelyn and
Trisha were willing participants. They had been waiting for years
to be able to share how all of this affected them. Robin said, “Dad,
I don’t remember anything. That was so long ago.” She once remarked,
“Dad, I spent so much time trying to forget about it, I don’t want to try to remember.”
When she did write her chapter, she was very honest and open. Katelyn asked if she could do some of the photos for the book. She added, “Dad, I would take a picture
of our house on Holly Hill Road and turn it upside down. And then, I would take a family photo from that year and turn it upside down. Because that is how my life has felt since then….like it’s been upside down.” Kristen didn’t want to talk much about it.
For Kristen, it brought up a lot of transitions that still cause her pain. Her story helped us to understand life through the eyes of a twelve year old. Ryan, who was nine years old, was protected from much of what was going on. When they did write their chapters,
they told of their unique memories. Ryan asked his grandmother
for help in writing his chapter because he couldn’t recall his feelings.
I guess my personal sharing was helpful for them to read. We
have learned so much. They know now that I was not abandoning
them or being “selfish” by attempting suicide. I honestly don’t
know if my children will read the book, but by simply talking
about it, for the past year, we are no longer in the dark about how
each of us felt. The book has been the start of healing for all of us.
How is your family now?
I currently work in a men’s clothing store and the four kids (all
young adults) are in college, all studying psychology. Trisha and I
founded the Speaking About Depression Initiative. Our mission is to
carry our message about Real Men, Real Depression to organizations,
church groups, retreats, and corporate meetings nationwide and worldwide.