Written by Marcos Camargo

Southern Utah native Eric Dodge has made a name for himself in the country music scene through his musical talent. He has released eight albums that have received international success and was inducted into the Country Music Association in 2012. He’s also the author of “Baby Steps to Music Industry Success,” a book about making it in the world of country music. And now he has just released a second book, “Why Not Today? Face your Fears and Chase Your Dreams!” that speaks candidly about his struggles with anxiety and depression.

Mental health has long been considered a very private matter. It’s only been in the last few decades that society has begun to speak of these struggles outside the shrink’s office, and it is especially courageous when men like Dodge open up about these issues.

Like many young people, Dodge was first hit with feelings of doubt and depression in his early teens. He said that he began to feel self-conscious in junior high.

He said that he was inspired to write the book after several requests from fans to know more about his struggles with being bullied and gaining weight.

“A lot of people kept saying, ‘We want to hear those stories … we want to hear about that,’” said Dodge.

So he began to recount his experiences of both his struggles and the criticism he received for trying to deal with his anxiety.

“I remember I’d go into Weight Watchers,” said Dodge. “People would say, ‘What are you doing here? You don’t need to lose weight.’ And I’d say, ‘It’s about bullying.’ And they’d say, ‘You don’t need to talk about bullying. You don’t even know how that feels.’ So I thought, ‘I really need to tell this story. I need to write it.’”

Dodge said things didn’t really start to turn around until his family moved to a different part of town when he was in his late teens. The change of scene helped him to reevaluate what he wanted and how he dealt with his life. He began to lose weight and take control of the things he wanted.

“My parents moved us to a different school, and moved us to a completely new area of town. It gave me a different start, and that is really where things began to improve for me,” said Dodge.

He said that this new outlook, combined with two poignant experiences—the death of his grandfather and the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks—culminated during a cruise that ended up being the inspiration to start his music career.

“The cruise and the death of my grandfather were exactly two months apart,” said Dodge. That caused a lot of momentum for me to change. It’s hard to describe that feeling of needing to make a difference, needing to make a change.”

Dodge heard the news of the attacks while on the cruise and was inspired to get up and sing “The Dance” by Garth Brooks. After finishing his performance, a passenger approached Dodge and encouraged him to pursue a music career. Dodge credits his music with helping him overcome his depression.

“Finding a talent, finding something I love to do, is a big part of my change. All the things that I love, I focused on those instead of the things I felt made me a victim. That’s how a lot of the change continued to happen.”

Only two years after the cruise, Dodge began professionally performing. Since then, he has performed with stars such as Travis Tritt, SheDAISY, and Carrie Underwood.

Despite his success in both his music and his personal life, Dodge said it’s still a struggle at times to keep his depression at bay.

“It will always be a battle, for anyone who has these kinds of issues,” said Dodge. “It’s easy to fall back into those pits, but you can get out of them again as long as you know what you’ve done before. If you’re trying, then you’re making progress.”

Dodge’s new book, “Why Not Today? Face your Fears and Chase Your Dreams!” can be purchased on Amazon.com.

Learn more about Eric Dodge at ericdodge.com.

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