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How a Fashion Designer’s Battle With Depression Became His Superpower

Directed by Kelly Teacher for Out.

Los Angeles-based designer and founder of the online fashion brand Leisure Lab, Daniel Henson, has used his own experiences with crippling anxiety and depression as fuel for his creativity. Having first gotten its start in men’s shorts, Leisure Lab has since expanded into elevated essentials made with sustainable fabrics, which include tailored-fit pants with four-way stretch to breezy tank dresses.

But Henson’s climb toward success wasn’t easy. Years of battling depression over fears of being shunned for his sexuality eventually caught up with him. After seeking help from a psychiatrist, his meds ignited an anxiety attack that landed him in the emergency room. The struggle continued after he launched Leisure Lab in 2019, when he checked himself into a residential mental health facility and could barely sit through group meetings because he was sure he was going to die. It wasn’t long after his stay that he decided he was going to take his own life — until a moment of clarity happened.

“I knew when I was in that position that there was only one reason I was going through this — and it was not for me, it was for other people,” says Henson in Out.com’s Love, Me series. “There was some kind of story to be told, some kind of testimony that I had to go through to be able to share the struggle because it was so dark and so deep. I knew that a lot of people, if they were in the same shoes probably would not have made it. I knew that for this to be happening to me, there was a reason, a bigger purpose that had to be beyond myself. I had to pass on to help somebody else going through whatever they're going through to see that there is a chance and there is another day around the corner.”

“I promised myself when I got better, when I felt better, that I would share every ounce of whatever I went through with whoever I needed to, to make sure they knew if there is a chance, you don't give up,” he continues. “If you're breathing, you have a chance. That's all you need.”

Love, Me, Pride Media’s new editorial, video, and social media series gives a voice to those who are struggling to overcome severe treatment resistant depression by documenting stories of notable people who are brave enough to share how they continue to face depression each and every day.

If you have or are contemplating suicide, please know there is a well of support out there to help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 can be reached 24 hours a day by people of all ages and identities. If you are a trans or gender-nonconforming person considering suicide, the Trans Lifeline can be reached at (877) 565-8860. The Trevor Project is the world's largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ+ youth (ages 24 and younger). Trained counselors at the Trevor Project Lifeline can be reached 24/7 at (866) 488-7386, by texting START to 678678, or via the TrevorChat instant messaging service at TheTrevorProject.org/Help.

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