May 13, 2022 | 2 min read

Instilling hope for people living with mental illness

After suffering from depression for decades Bobby Straus, author and Schwab employee, speaks out about his journey to finding help. 

Article


By Chelsey Sleator, Senior Manager, Communications 

May has been deemed Mental Health Awareness month in the U.S., but for the many people living with a mental illness, it’s a daily reality—not an annual acknowledgement. 

Robert “Bobby” Straus, a Schwab employee based out of Denver, shares his personal story in hopes it will help others who may be experiencing something similar. 

Hard to explain, hard to understand 

After suffering from depression for decades and finally finding the treatment, medication, and skills to help him overcome it, Bobby has dedicated much of his life to talking about mental illness and reducing the stigma that is carried with it. 

“From the outside looking in, it is hard for people to understand depression. And from the inside looking out, it’s hard for those suffering from it to explain what they are experiencing,” says Bobby. “I want to help bridge that gap, so it becomes easier for people to discuss depression and mental illness openly.” 

Bobby can trace the start of his depression to kindergarten, where he struggled in school due to a learning disorder. “By the time I reached high school I got to a place where I was very withdrawn,” explains Bobby. “On graduation day I saw everyone throw their hats in the air, and I could see how excited they were, but I didn’t have that feeling.” 

Finding help 

Bobby went to college, and eventually got married and had a son. He had a nice house and a happy family, but he still felt disconnected, referring to himself as “present but absent from life.” With the urging of his wife, Bobby sought treatment in the form of therapists, psychiatrists and outpatient and in-patient mental health facilities.  

“When I was first diagnosed with depression at age 26, I didn’t believe it,” says Bobby. “But years later, once I admitted that I had it and I let people help me, that’s when recovery happened.” 

Bobby acknowledges that recovery is an ongoing process, and weekly group therapy meetings coordinated through the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) helped. Through these meetings, Bobby discovered another NAMI program called In Our Own Voice, where patients in recovery go out to treatment centers to tell their story and instill hope in others.  

“I found that doing this helped me just as much as it helped the people I was talking to,” explains Bobby. “After one speaking event, someone told me ‘I feel like I want to live again,’ and that made me realize I was doing something really worthwhile.” 

Sharing his story 

Bobby continues to share his story, and recently wrote a book about his experience titled: In search of a Way Out: A True Story of Bullying, Depression, and a Journey Toward Hope.  

“I realized that if I can help people by sharing my story, I can do it at a much wider level by writing a book,” explains Bobby. “Sharing my story and giving hope to others suffering from mental illness gives me purpose in life.” 

Photo caption: Bobby Straus is a speaker and author dedicated to destigmatizing mental illness.

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