Columbus man shares his story of depression, encourages those su - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Columbus man shares his story of depression, encourages those suffering to seek help

AUBURN, AL (WTVM) -

When you meet Spud Alford in person, you would never guess the challenges he has faced in his 59 years.

The 1980s Olympic hopeful, author and CEO of multiple companies also battled cancer in his 20s and has now opened up about his struggle with depression.

"I loved what I did every day, I'd get up in the morning, knew my mission, my goal was four years away and I was surrounded by excellence all day," says Alford

Alford was training for the 1984 summer Olympics when he was faced with his first bump in the road, testicular cancer.

"It was horrible to try and replace that and I went through major depression because I couldn't find anything to attach myself to that I could have that kind of passion for," explains Alford.

After a miraculous recovery, Alford went on to be very successful, starting multiple companies including Zelosport Entertainment.

However, nearly 13 years ago, Alford decided he needed help.

He  was diagnosed with severe clinical depression, a challenge he opens up about in his new autobiography, God, If You are Real…

"I woke up one morning and couldn't lift my head off the pillow. My doctor told me the chemicals just quit firing and for four weeks it was about as bad as I can imagine it being," says Alford.

When news of Robin Williams' death broke earlier this week, Alford could relate to what the actor may have been going through.

Over 80 percent of Americans who have symptoms of clinical depression are not receiving treatment and the number of patients diagnosed increases by 20 percent each year.

Alford hopes the national dialogue about mental health will continue and people, especially teens, will not be afraid to ask for help.

"I think there is a stigma that people think you just snap out of it," says Alford, "It's like breaking your leg, you can't just snap out of it, its broke and you need to go to a doctor and let qualified men and women fix you."

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