NASCAR driver Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. spoke publicly in May at Kansas Speedway about hiding his depression “for many years.”
And this week as a guest on Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s podcast, the No. 43 Chevrolet driver elaborated on some of the personal challenges he’s facing.
Wallace spoke in-depth on the “Dale Jr. Download” about his depression, and although he said “it’s been a lot better” since the spring, it’s still a regular challenge. In Kansas, Wallace and the No. 43 team were having some on-track issues, but he said he was able to conceal the depression through racing.
At the time, he said he was “on the verge of breaking down,” adding, “I am what I am.”
Earnhardt asked why Wallace — who turned 26 on Tuesday — decided to initially open up about his mental health when reporters wondered whether he was doing OK.
“I guess I’ve never looked at it as a sign of weakness, or coming out and talking about any issue that I have,” Wallace said. “I think, hell, if you ask me, I’m [gonna] tell you. And I don’t know if it’s the bigger picture or light at the end of tunnel, but I was definitely in rough times there [at] Kansas — whatever race that was, 10, 12 on the schedule. And they were like, ‘What’s going on? You seem different.’ And I’m like, ‘I’m depressed, it’s as simple as that.’
“And for weeks and weeks even to this day, I’m still getting thanked for talking about depression. It’s helped so many people. And I’m like, ‘Oh, I didn’t know it was such a big deal.’ I was just asked what was going on, and I told them because I’m an open book. What you see is what you get. But it’s such a bigger deal than just talking about, ‘Hey, I’m just depressed. Hey, I’m going through this, and days are dark, and days are long and quiet and lonely.’ …
“It depends on how you let others affect you and how you tell your story. Like, if you’re worried about what other people think, then it’s — I broke out of that shell a long time ago.”
He also acknowledged that some of his issues have been because he’s “pretty good at holding things in.” Because of how he reacts to his emotions, he’s “ruined relationships.”
To work through some of his issues, Wallace said he saw a psychiatrist and psychologist but found it “very weird” to talk about his emotions. Feeling like it wasn’t helping, he said he quit therapy two weeks in and hasn’t been back in months.
Co-host Mike Davis asked whether Wallace thought talking about depression was a release, or whether it has since become a regret.
“A release, for sure,” Wallace said. “A release of emotions, anger, frustration, tears, sadness, darkness, loneliness, everything. … It’s emotional to think about it to this day. There’s still days — it’s been a lot better. There’s still days that I’ll go home, sit on the couch and just look at a blank TV.”
Wallace also spoke about the falling-out he had with his father following his parents’ divorce in 2016. He said he and his dad got into “a physical altercation” that included “swinging fists.”
Although he’s slowly working on repairing his relationship with his dad, he added, “This is a big chunk of the depression I’ve had, losing your best friend.”