Lori’s Story: Watching “Dear Evan Hansen” Inspired Me to Consider My Own Mental Health

In this guest post my wife Lori discusses how seeing a musical on our trip to NYC led her to reflect on her own parenting and mental health journey.


Warning: Spoilers for the musical “Dear Evan Hansen” and sensitive content are included in this blog post. Please read at your own discretion. 

Howard and I had an opportunity to see the musical “Dear Evan Hansen” on Broadway in New York just a couple of weeks ago. Our youngest daughter highly recommended it to us—having seen it herself at the Music Box Theater the previous year. It was an incredible choice. 

I was drawn in from the first minute until the very end. I want to talk about the musical through the lens of a parent as well as my personal experience with depression/suicide as a young person many years ago. 

I Need a Parenting Map

The musical opens with Evan and his mom. It’s the first day of senior year of high school. Evan is nervous about it, but so is Mom. She chatters on, gives him a rousing pep talk, asks about his homework assignment from his psychiatrist, and anxiously hovers over him. Meanwhile we get a peek into Connor Murphy’s morning with his family. Mom is trying to push him to attend the first day of school while Dad and sister Zoe make snide remarks about Connor at the breakfast table.


I was drawn in from the first minute until the very end. I want to talk about the musical through the lens of a parent as well as my personal experience with depression/suicide as a young person many years ago. 


I could relate to the poor moms in this first scene and the opening song, “Anybody Have A Map?” They are trying so hard to keep their sons going—really pushing them through life even though the boys are both struggling with deep emotional issues. It is scary and confusing. They are trying, but at a loss as to how to truly connect with their children. I can relate. Both my daughters have struggled with depression and anxiety. 

As a mother, I desperately rooted around and grasped onto the familiar and found comfort in a daily routine. If my girls could just make it through school that day, then they could build on that day after day and everything would be okay, right? Life works itself out and my kids are gonna be part of that. They are gonna love high school and even thrive there. They are going to overcome personal obstacles and soar above it all. 

Even though I didn’t. 


To hear Lori share her mental health journey listen to the Brainsick podcast “The Lori Special”


My Mental Torment

Even though I experienced intrusive thoughts that hit me full-force as a sophomore in high school during the 80’s. My brain became flooded with them and I felt overwhelmed. Every time I climbed to the top of the stairs I thought about flinging myself onto the ground below. I tossed out dark, brooding jokes that made my friends furrow their brows in concern. I remembered the girl at my middle school who had attempted suicide and showed me the scars. I might succeed where she had failed. 

My own mom knew something was wrong, but just kept pushing me to do my daily routine. I threw myself into my classes and suppressed my thoughts. She was at my side every step of the way. In hindsight, I don’t feel I could have made it without her constant support. Then I caught a break from my mental torment and could relax a bit. The intrusive thoughts went away.  I made it through to college and my twenties more independently.  I fell in love, got married, and started a family. Life was good.

Then the intrusive thoughts returned in even fuller force.  My wishful thinking of “They are gone for good” was shattered. They were familiar, hostile and unwelcome strangers. This is where my helplessness and hopelessness returned. I guess the monsters don’t stay under the bed forever. 

Resisting and Getting Help

My husband and kids literally kept me alive—the thought of leaving them and possibly blaming themselves for my personal demise scared me. For about a decade I struggled until I seriously started considering getting professional help. For me. To keep myself alive and also possibly experience a quality of life that I had never known. 


My husband and kids literally kept me alive—the thought of leaving them and possibly blaming themselves for my personal demise scared me.


My husband came with me to my initial appointments. That made everything a lot less scary. It can be hard to reach outside of yourself and ask for help. It can be hard to get away from those depressive thoughts long enough to talk to someone else. Going to see a psychiatrist and therapy was an initially frightening but ultimately rewarding experiencing. 

I worked hard in therapy. I came to this slow realization that this was an opportunity for me to take to get healthy. Maybe these opportunities don’t come around too often. So, I showed up at therapy every week even though I dreaded it on the drive over. Even though I secretly worried I would face some personal issues that would be too difficult for me. And in the process, I learned.

 I learned coping skills. I learned to express how I was feeling. I learned how to set boundaries. I learned to accept and to take medication—which is the right way for me to help address my anxiety and depression. I look back on those over two years of intense therapy and feel proud and accomplished. I learned so much about myself and how to live the life I have been given.