If you’ve followed my writing for a while, you know that it often centers around sharing my personal experiences of health challenges and family addiction. I shared here that writing LIFELINE was a coping mechanism—helping me find hope and healing through creativity. It’s my firm belief that by sharing our experiences, we not only set ourselves on a path to healing, but we empower others to own their experiences, to find comfort and hope in connection.
Today I’m so excited to interview Luke Frazier, founder of The WHY blog and co-founder of depression2extinction (d2e), a nonprofit which seeks to eliminate the stigma around depression by helping people realize that their stories matter.
A: Welcome, Luke!
L: Thank you so much for allowing me the space to dive into my own journey! I absolutely love your project and your mission and drive behind writing.
A: Thank YOU! So, you’re twenty-four (an age where many recent college grads are barely out of their parents’ basements), and yet you’re running a successful podcast and now a non-profit. Tell us a little about how you got here.
L: Roughly six years ago, I entered college with life figured out. I had a great girlfriend, I was in school, I had a one-year-old lab, and I was en route to getting a business degree. Life was great. Sort of. At the same time, I had no clue what I was doing in life. I was overwhelmed, not sure why I was here or what I was meant to do. In many ways, I was lost and simply on an auto-pilot of sorts. Fast forward one breakup, three colleges, and one cross country move later, and I finally felt like I was starting my journey.
At this point in my life, I was living in Colorado and was fully immersing myself in any new adventure I could get my hands on. From rock climbing to white water rafting to joining a German club, I was living. It was around this time that I met two mentors who inspired me to take a look at who I was and what I wanted. From that point on, I felt like I had woken up to myself.
I began to make more decisions based on how I might improve my well-being, or the well-being of others, and I found that I wanted to make a world-wide impact. Sure, I was just another glossy-eyed millennial dead set in “changing the world”, but this was a truth I felt deep inside, and as I explored it, one question showed up more often than not: WHY? Why does anyone do what they do? Why did Steve Jobs start Apple? Why did Gary Kelly believe so deeply in Southwest culture? Why did a pastor become a pastor? And most of all: What is Luke’s WHY?
Having had a fairly curious childhood, it was fitting that my next step was to start a podcast in which I would interview people about their journey and, ultimately, their WHY. So, with little research and absolutely no experience in hosting, running, or even starting a podcast, I took the leap. That was three years ago and I’m proud to say The WHY Blog is still growing.
A: So much so that now you’ve started a new endeavor—d2e. What was the catalyst behind this nonprofit?
L: My curiosity about life ultimately led me to partner up with an old friend to start a non-profit called depression2extinction (d2e). Our mission is to bring the stigma of depression to extinction by helping people embrace their journey, their story. To be quite honest, I have striven to live most of my life through a positive lens. I do a great job of putting a positive twist on almost any situation. I credit that to my faith in God. However, over the past six years I have experienced heartbreak, death, and a deep feeling of being alone. If it hadn't been for my amazing mentors and people like my grandfather, I would have never even approached the darkness in my own life. So, for me, embracing the symptoms of depression wholeheartedly and learning how to best support myself and others, aligns with my WHY. As scary as it may be sometimes, my co-founder and I wanted to begin talking about mental health in a new way. We wanted a safe space for people to share freely and without judgement. So here we are.
Coincidentally, when I first started The WHY Blog, one of the original goals was to help people find their own WHY by gaining inspiration or insight from our guests. With d2e, it feels as though my worlds have collided and I’m in the cockpit of a space shuttle ready for takeoff… without a parachute or a plan of arrival.
In many ways, though, this has been most of my life: start it and figure the rest out later. There’s a quote that has stuck with me through the past few years and rings true today. Ray Bradbury writes, “Life is about trying things to see if it works.” Here I am, trying out things I love, making a living, and impacting people in the world I know. Who truly knows what’s next?
A: Love that philosophy! It’s sometimes surprising to me how our own “life-saving” efforts end up offering a lifeline to other people as well. In what ways have these projects been a “lifeline” for you and for others?
L: The podcast and non-profit are my lifelines because they are things I started simply by putting my most authentic and vulnerable self out into the universe. They are, at this point, my thread of love and human connection. With the mission of bringing the stigma of depression to extinction, it is our hope that d2e, in and of itself, is a lifeline of support, human connection, and possibly a light in the darkness. As we’ve now merged the podcast with the non-profit, they are roots of the same tree.
The biggest way they have both been lifelines for me, however, is the fact that I am always humbled and “brought back to earth” by seeing the amazing connections and journeys so many seemingly ordinary people experience every day. You never know who someone is until you fully understand their journey and WHY—so go ask!
A: How can readers connect with you and get involved with these awesome projects?
L: Check out our websites at www.depression2extinction.org OR www.thewhyblog.com. Follow us on Instagram @depression2extinction OR @the_why_blog. You can also find us on YOUTUBE at d2e OR The WHY Blog.
A: Thanks so much for chatting with me today, Luke, and best of luck on your incredible journey!
L: Abbey, thank you, again, for this space. I spend a lot of time asking others to share their story that I sometimes can lose sight of my own. Thank you for sharing your gift with this world! Best of luck to you as well!
Make sure to check out Luke’s work on any of the social media channels mentioned above. If you’re wondering about LIFELINE and are interested in reading a short sample, click here to subscribe to my newsletter and instantly receive access to the first three chapters.