'Fixer Upper' Star Chip Gaines Details Depression Battle In Memoir

By David Konow 10/17/17

"The only dream I’d ever had was crushed. When that dream was lost, I was lost too."

Chip Gaines
Photo via YouTube

On the eve of a new book release, Chip Gaines, star of Fixer Upper, confesses he’s battled depression during crucial times in his life: right as he was trying to decide who he would become in college, and when he became a success on television with his wife Joanna.

As Gaines writes in Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff, long before reality TV fame he wanted to be a pro-baseball player, but he was taken off the team at Baylor University in his sophomore year, which hit him “like a sucker punch to the gut,” he recalled.

“And in the following months, I fell into something I can only describe as a deep depression. The only dream I’d ever had was crushed. The weight of that held me down for the better part of a year.”

Gaines realized that “my dream was actually too big for me,” and he had to figure out what to do with his life. “When that dream was lost, I was lost too.”

Gaines finally snapped out of it when he realized “there’s a cap to the amount of self-pity time a person gets.” He would realize baseball wasn’t the only thing he could do, and he would eventually start a business, Magnolia Market, with Joanna. When they decided to launch their own show, Fixer Upper, two reality stars were born.

Fixer Upper debuted in May 2013, and it became one of the biggest hits in the history of HGTV. But soon depression came knocking again when Chip became exhausted from the show’s schedule, and was spending a lot of time on Twitter, which hurt his fragile psyche. “Want to make my day? Want to hurt my feelings? All you have to do is tweet at me. Those little 140-character messages can be like a hug or a dagger to the heart.”

During one shoot, Chip recalled, “I started to get this weird, not-good, fuzzy feeling. I thought I must be exhausted or dehydrated or something like that…All of a sudden I was overwhelmed by a single thought. What am I doing here?”

Chip would soon announce that Fixer Upper would end after wrapping its fifth season. In a statement, Chip and Joanna wrote that walking away from the show “is the right choice for us,” but at the same time, “it has for sure not been an easy one to come to terms with.”

Having overcome two major depressive episodes, Chip told People, “We’ve got everything that our hearts desire. I don’t see how we could be happier.” 

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.