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Dad opens up about depression, suicide attempt before his son was born

A year ago, Caolan Doherty attempted suicide. Then he learned he was going to be a dad.
/ Source: TODAY

A year ago, Caolán Doherty was in a dark place — battling depression, even attempting suicide at one point.

Today, he's a (mostly) happy father to a 5-month-old son.

Doherty, 25, recently opened up about his struggles with mental illness in a viral Facebook post. He told TODAY that he shared his story in hopes that it might help others going through something similar.

"A year ago tonight at around 2am I tried to kill myself," Doherty, of Derry, Ireland, wrote in the post, which has been shared on Facebook more than 11,000 times. "I had enough after struggling year after year with the black fog that is depression. Thankfully I was unsuccessful."

He goes on to say that 15 days later he learned his girlfriend was pregnant. Today, they are parents to a baby boy named Rossa.

"If I had been successful in taking my life, then basically I would be airbrushed out of this photo, I wouldn't exist," he wrote alongside a snapshot of him and his son in matching green and white shirts. "I would have missed out on the best thing that has ever happened to me. That absolutely terrifies me to think about."

"While I'm not going to lie there has been dark days since and I'll always have to face this illness on a daily basis, it's worth facing, it's worth dealing with and most importantly it's worth talking about. That's what's kept me alive I think, talking to people I care about and that care about me."

Now many people are sharing their own stories about mental illness on Doherty’s Facebook page, and applauding the dad for being honest about his struggles.

He empathizes with them, and recalls his own darkest days.

"There were days I couldn't get out of bed, and days I was punching the walls," Doherty told TODAY. "And after a while, there was just no emotion, no sadness. There was no anger or happiness or joy. I felt nothing. I think that's as bad as you can be, really."

For Doherty, the moment he learned he was going to be a father changed something.

"I felt like someone woke me up from this big, big sleep," he said. "It was a wake-up call."

His son gives him a reason to be alive, he said, and talking about his mental illness has helped him cope. He admits there are still difficult days, but says he's come a long way from where he was a year ago.

"It's like night and day," Doherty said. "I don't get as much sleep. But I wouldn't swap it for anything in the world. For the first time as long as I can remember, I'm actually looking forward to what the next day has in store for me."