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Former 'American Idol' host Brian Dunkleman says he struggled with depression

Brian Dunkleman says he'll always be proud of his involvement in the singing competition.
American Idol Finale-Show
Dunkleman appeared alongside Ryan Seacrest for one season on "American Idol."Kevin Winter / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Former "American Idol" host Brian Dunkleman said he can now look back at his time on the show from a place of gratitude, instead of holding on to the anger and resentment he felt after he left the job.

"I’m happier now than I was back then. I’m not depressed anymore — I used to struggle with depression a lot. I had a lot of anger," Dunkleman told GQ.

Part of that happiness and gratitude comes from Dunkleman's current job as announcer of "Family Feud Live: Celebrity Edition," a touring version of the TV game show, on which he's working with one of his former "American Idol" bosses.

Brian Dunkleman
"I’m grateful for the opportunity to be on 'American Idol.' I don’t mean to come off ungrateful," Dunkleman told GQ.Jason LaVeris / FilmMagic

"I feel like I’m a different person, especially what I’ve gone through in the last five years. I just feel like I’ve come out on the other side. 'American Idol' is something that I’ll always be proud of, because I beat out a lot of people for that. I was a part of history. I have a completely new appreciation for everything. That’s the difference: I live in gratitude now. I don’t live in resentment," he said.

Before Kelly Clarkson was a household name, the inaugural season of "American Idol" was hosted by Dunkleman and another new face — Ryan Seacrest, who hosted solo after the first season and would go on to become this generation's Dick Clark.

Dunkleman said he "couldn’t open a newspaper, a magazine, listen to the radio, or go online" without reading or hearing about "Idol,” therefore reminding him of the fact that he was no longer involved. (Though he quit, he says former bosses have told him they would have let him go.)

In January, it was reported that Dunkleman disclosed his occupation as "Uber driver" in financial documents related to his divorce, detailing how many hours he works each week and his approximate wages. He refused to be shamed for how he was making a living.

While the time since he left "American Idol" has been challenging, Dunkleman wants everyone to know that he doesn't want to seem ungrateful. He's now able to look back on his experience in a positive light.

"It was a huge opportunity. It didn’t work out for me, it threw a huge wrench in my life for a decade or two, but here I am working for one of my old bosses from 'Idol' again with 'Family Feud' and I just want to give 100 percent to every opportunity that’s given to me," he said. "Most people don’t get to do this at all, and I’m getting another chance."