For several years, Todd Noack, 43, of DeWitt, has been dealing with depression and anxiety. Now he is reaching out to help others struggling with mental health issues.

It all began, Todd said, in late 1996 after he was hurt on the job. Todd worked in sales and management for 13 years in the Quad-City area. Todd’s doctor told him to give up his job and get more of a “sit-down job,” but Todd liked his work and decided not to give it up. Working with an injury turned what was a herniated disk into a deteriorating disk. In 1999, this was discovered and Todd received cortisone injections, which eventually stopped helping.

In 2006, Todd dropped to his knees in pain and was taken to the hospital. After being released, he tried to get out of bed but found he could not move. He had back surgery to relieve the condition and was told to go on disability. However, Todd kept working. In 2007, he required a second surgery and was again told to stop working. He kept working, but did miss a fair amount due to pain. In 2009, he was referred to a surgeon in Iowa City and was forced to quit working. That is when his depression and anxiety began to really take hold.

Todd weighed 350 pounds and was told he needed to lose almost 150 pounds before a surgery to put rods in his back could be done. He was then referred to a specialist in weight loss and began working with a dietician and nutritionalist, counting his calories. He was on pain medication and diet pills, but after three or four months the weight loss plan still was not working. He was not working and still hurting. Todd said he felt like he was nobody. In his depression, he took an overdose of his pain and weight loss medication. That however, ended up being a turning point in Todd’s life.

“I don’t know. Just something after that spoke to me and said, ‘Hey, you know, you have the support here at the church and you have support with your family,’” Todd said. He started leaning on those supporters.

Todd was inspired to start walking and found as the weight started to come off, he felt better and better. By June 2010, he was down to 218 pounds and was told he could have the surgery. Unfortunately, Todd said the surgery has made the pain worse. However, he said while he still suffers from depression, he has not sunk deep into it again. He remains active at DeWitt United Methodist Church.

Last year, Todd started in a group and met the president of the Iowa Advocates for Mental Health and Recovery and was told he should attend the peer support training academy. In June 2010, he went through the training and became a peer support specialist. Todd is now trying to help his peers as an Iowa advocate for mental health and recovery working with Magellan Health Services. He focuses on groups to get feedback from people with mental health issues to report back to Magellan.

Todd said he is not ashamed to tell his story. He said he loves his work and likes helping people going through things he has experienced. He holds a support group for anyone dealing with depression from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays at the United Methodist Church in DeWitt. Todd will host a discussion for people who receive Title 19 of Medicaid from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday at the Clinton Public Library. For more information, contact Todd at (563) 726-3244.