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"This might be the most crucial thing for me – accepting that things happened, but I could finally acknowledge that they did, and grow from them."

About Russell:Russell sitting outside

I’m a small business owner that found solace in making soap – telling guys truthfully that I used it as a coping mechanism instead of dealing with my brother’s death, and now I quite literally have my own soap box in Davenport, Iowa –


It was in May of 2018. I had gotten to the point that I had a plan for ending my life. Knowing that I didn’t really want to – but feeling that everyone would be better off.

In 2010 I survived a suicide attempt. I laid paralyzed on the floor of my kitchen in my small apartment watching the world fade away. I wanted to die. I pumped my body full of drugs and alcohol and just faded into the black. Turns out I’m a fast metabolizer.

In 2016 my brother took his own life – and it rocked me. What happened to me, his kids, our family, would have been the effect of what I had previously attempted.

Two years later, I found myself being eaten up inside by his loss, and well, a life full of nearly every traumatic thing that can happen to a guy.

It hit me that I didn’t want to die. I just didn’t want to hurt anymore. I knew I had to do something. It hit me hard that I could do one without the other.



  • I knew subconsciously that I had a problem. A lot of terrible things happened to me – But I was so afraid of letting those things define me – that I was letting it define me as a closed-off, guarded, and generally just walled-off person.
  • Once I accepted that I actually had a laundry list of things I needed to deal with properly, it made it that much easier to seek help in dealing with them. Just brushing pretty traumatic things under the rug, only led to a really lumpy rug.


  • I landed on the perfect counselor the first try. She worked in the prison system for 20 years, and had  dealt with her own depression and suicidal thoughts. She got it. She didn’t judge me. She just pointed me towards the correct/healthy conclusions.
  • Learning how to deal with things in a healthy manner – makes life so much easier. The baggage gets a little bit lighter with each session, until you can finally just cut the straps and dump the bag. Put things away where they go – they still exist, but it’s not a mess anymore.


  • This might be the most crucial thing for me – accepting that things happened, but I could finally acknowledge that they did, and grow from them. I was terrified that they would define me as a person in a bad way. I never realized that they could also define who I was as a person in a good way.
  • Using the past to guide me through both the future in terms of processing things that might happen, and in being willing to have a conversation that maybe a friend, or someone I care about, or hell sometimes a complete stranger, needs to have. The ability to be open and honest about my own struggles, has opened a lot of doors for guys going through some stuff.

Creating head space

  • With 38 years of trauma built up – I had no room for anything else.
  • I enjoy life so much more. I still have things that I deal with, but I’m in a way better place than I’ve ever been in my life. It’s been nice to go out and do things that I enjoy doing – clearing out the stuff in my head through guided meditation – clearing it all out on a hike – or even just popping on a bike ride. Before, I would try to do those things and just be more miserable because I could only think about the things that were eating me up at the time.


The mindset that having feelings in general is not masculine – is such a farce. When you’re in the middle of this stuff – it’s hard to maintain the semblance of being a “good man”. My depression took over. I wasn’t a good dad. I wasn’t a good spouse. I definitely wasn’t a good man. Telling yourself over and over that real men don’t need help, or whatever – is what leads you to not being a real man.

What you feel like is other’s perception of you is often so off base – and you don’t realize it. You know who you are. What you really need to ask yourself is: “is that the same way that people are seeing me?

I thought I was being a good dad, spouse, person, whatever.

I had walled myself off so much that my daughter, who was 12 at the time, told me that she believed I didn’t love her because I wouldn’t interact with her. I was terrified of shedding my trauma on to my kids – and I was doing it anyway.

Ask yourself if you’re doing the same thing.

Because not dealing with it is also teaching them to do the same thing. Stopping that cycle is about as masculine as it gets. Giving them a better life than you had doesn’t mean just buying them new things.

– Russell Maidlow, Davenport, Iowa, US

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