Dacari J. Middlebrooks, Vanderbilt Divinity Grad and Author of “The Depressed Millennial,” Opens Up About the Black Church and Mental Health Issues

Dacari J. Middlebrooks is the author of "The Depressed Millennial."
Dacari J. Middlebrooks is the author of “The Depressed Millennial.”

He upped his life insurance policy, told people close to him he loved them, spent extra time with his just-born baby — and made a plan to kill himself.

Dacari J. Middlebrooks, then only 33, a Vanderbilt divinity school student, decided to drive to a remote spot near his therapist’s office, take the .357-caliber handgun out of his middle console and blow his brains out.

Why near his therapist’s office?

“I thought maybe people would find me quicker,” he said.

On his death day, Middlebrooks, unafraid, pulled his black Land Rover off the highway exit to get to his therapist’s office — and ran straight into a bunch of construction barrels.

Suddenly panicky, he drove around, frantic, following detour signs and realizing he couldn’t get anywhere near the spot he’d chosen to end his life that day in Alpharetta, Georgia, in March 2016.

Middlebrooks found a spot in a parking lot, stopped his car and wept for 20 minutes.

“I said, ‘Maybe today’s not the day,’ ” he said.

“I knew then the God I had pretty much given up on had saved me.”

God — and counseling.

At first, eight years earlier, when a divinity school professor suggested Middlebrooks do therapy, he flinched:

“Black people don’t go to counseling,” he spat out. “I’m at divinity school, so let’s pray about this.”

No, the professor said, you should go to counseling.

So he did, a few months later.

‘I’m not healed, but I’m free’

And after a while he stopped having those crazy, violent nightmares. He stopped abusing pain pills he was buying from street dealers. He stopped getting drunk all the time.

Now, Middlebrooks is a convert, and, with a preacher’s zeal, he wants to spread the word to other African-Americans and millennials — therapy and counseling work.

He’s written a book, “The Depressed Millennial,” that has sold more than 1,000 copies, many of them to members of Mount Zion church — Nashville’s largest African-American church — where Middlebrooks has worked for eight years.

“I’m not healed, but I’m free,” he said, voice rising. “Healing is a process. I’m gonna continue to talk about it.”

His trauma started in 2004 when he and his best friend, Manon Freeman Jr., were robbed in their hometown in suburban Atlanta after high school graduation.

Gunmen jumped in their car at a gas station and ordered the teens to drive around and find them $200 cash.

“Whatever you do,” Freeman said, “I’ll get you the $200, just don’t kill my friend.”

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SOURCE: Brad Schmitt
Nashville Tennessean