Ben Malcomson the person vs. Ben Malcomson the podcaster: A Look into my World Beyond the Mic

Even starting this column off the on the right foot is difficult to explain.  I feel the best way to describe what you are about to read below is taking the door of my personal life and creaking it open just enough to give you a sense of Ben Malcomson the person vs. Ben Malcomson the podcaster and website editor.

For those that know Ben Malcomson the person (that truly know me) will not be surprised to read what I have to say.  Maybe to the depths of how far, but not in the general sense.  I’ve always been a wearing-my-heart-on-my-sleeve kind of guy.  I feel I have a strong passion for the things I care about and the people in my life.  I’ve grown up to be known as one of the nice guys.  But, that doesn’t mean my life has been all lollipops and gumdrops.  In the 35 years of my life, I’ve had my share of ups and downs.  I feel we all have.  Some more difficult than others.  Do I have a lot to be thankful for?  Absolutely. In saying that, I have been fighting and still going through stages of fighting depression. I’ve been outspoken before in support of those that battle depression.  What those that don’t know outside of my closest friends is just how deep that depression took a hold of me.

I can recount periods of time during my 20s that I would go through phases where I would basically shut myself off from others and stay in my home like it was a prison convincing myself that I was doing the world a favor keeping myself away from others. I couldn’t say or do anything that would harm another if I just stayed away. I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t deserve anything better than that.  I didn’t even fully understand why I would go to such great lengths to imprison myself at times.  It was like a mixed bag of moments in time coming together to cripple me.  I do recall getting to the moment I reached that edge of no return and stared off into nothingness thinking that peace was just one more pill and one more alcohol swig away.  The pain would finally stop if I just got the balls to take that one more step needed.  Or would it?

What kept me from taking that additional step was really considering who I was leaving behind and how they would deal with the fall of Ben Malcomson.  Would they hurt for me?  Would they call me a coward and care less to understand what would drive me to that decision?  In the end, it was the suffering of my family that kept me from darkness. My mother would’ve been destroyed. She probably would’ve died from a broken heart. My twin brother would literally feel he lost a part of himself. The same could be said for my older brother, my aunts and uncles, my cousins, etc. And, don’t get me started on my friends. I don’t know if they would ever be the same. I think they would be partly angered and partly heartbroken. Either way, that train of thought was enough to put down the bottle and put down the pills in my hand.

Eventually, life started to come together organically.  I met my wife, got a house together, settled down, and got married.  We do not have any children, but we do have four cats.  And, I am perfectly fine with that.  Almost 5 years married now and still chugging along.  But, deep down, there was still a part of me that never came back from the depths of facing off with my demons.  Like I was still searching for that piece of me that I was missing.  I would go in and out of phases of depression due to struggling to find that part of me.  That part of me was a purpose of something more.

In time, I turned to sports to help me cope with it.  Just sitting back and taking games in on all sports became therapeutic.  The more involved I got, the more I wanted to help in some way.  I got involved with the Facebook fan groups, which turned into getting opportunities to write for various media outlets, to starting my own podcast show Hoosier Heartland, to starting our own website Hoosiers-United.  The part of me I felt I was missing was returning.  Truth be told, it wasn’t the fact I was writing and podcasting alone, it was hearing feedback from you, the fans. Getting to hear your thoughts on various IU athletic programs.  Most importantly, all of us getting to share in those moments together.  Whether the good times or the bad, we were in it together.  That, to me, made a world of difference.

Speeding up to 2019, I ended up having to take leave of absence from the podcasting and writing because life itself just became too heavy.  I was working and I am still working a full-time job averaging around 12 hours a day and I kept pressing and pressing myself to keep up with the times.  “You have to go, go go.. people do not want to wait on you.”, I told myself.  What I once loved became another sandbag on my shoulders as I was drowning under the stress to meet life’s expectations and now the expectations I set for myself with IU coverage.

During my leave of absence, it became clear to me that shedding something I loved as much as providing coverage for IU athletics was not the answer.  I missed it and I missed the interaction.  I missed the friendships that evolved during those times.  It became clear to me that the whole process over these last few years has been therapeutic to me.  I’ve had to learn that it is not possible to please everyone.  It’s only possible to do my part to not lose that piece of me again.  The drive and passion to continue to try and make a positive impact.

I’ve made baby steps in my return.  Doing a podcast here and there and holding off on writing until this very article. I still fight depression to this day in spurts, but now the fight is more about holding onto what I have gotten back versus searching for a part of me that is missing.

In closing, I want to thank those that have stuck beside me throughout the years.  My friends and family.  I want to thank those from what I call my “media family” for being supportive.  Depression is a serious matter that shouldn’t be taken lightly.  I know many of you Hoosier fans fight this yourselves.  Some of you cannot hide it.  Some of you hide it very well, but you know it is still there.  That feeling that pushes you farther into the depths of your own psyche.  It’s terrifying and crippling at the same time knowing what you are capable of doing to yourself if you choose to allow it.  But, you are not alone.  We can get through this together. Choose to keep fighting, keep searching, and keep living.

Going forward, I plan to do the best I can to provide you another avenue to follow the athletic programs you love, share insight together, celebrate together, and laugh together.  Hell, maybe even cry together.  Win or lose, we will work through it.  In life and in sports.  We are all united in that aspect.  We are Hoosiers United.

Thank you for your time.