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Overcoming Depression by Zack Beauchamp

(courtesy of vox.com)

I don’t know what was going through Anthony Bourdain’s mind when he took his own life. But I remember what was going through mine when I wanted to end my life.

Depression, for me, wasn’t sadness. Sadness is a feeling, and my depression was the opposite of feeling — a numbness, a sense that all value in the world was snuffed out. In order to feel sad, you have to care about something: My depression annihilated the very idea of caring.

My friends and family didn’t really matter, said my depression. I would never find a partner, it whispered. Life was nothing but emptiness, and there was only one escape. I was 25 years old, a young man in the prime of his life, and utterly hopeless.

I’m 30 now. I survived — and, more than that, I’m happy. I’m getting married in October, I spend tons of time with my friends and family, and I’m thrilled with my career. The happiness my depression said was impossible is here, and it’s real.

My story isn’t everyone’s. I’m not a psychologist, and I can’t speak in universals about something as personal as depression. But what I can say is this: If you’re depressed, neither Bourdain’s fate nor Kate Spade’s has to be yours. You can get better.

Here’s how I did.

(video courtesy MSNBC) For me, the key was getting help.

I don’t know what was going through Anthony Bourdain’s mind when he took his own life. But I remember what was going through mine when I wanted to end my life.

Depression, for me, wasn’t sadness. Sadness is a feeling, and my depression was the opposite of feeling — a numbness, a sense that all value in the world was snuffed out. In order to feel sad, you have to care about something: My depression annihilated the very idea of caring.

My friends and family didn’t really matter, said my depression. I would never find a partner, it whispered. Life was nothing but emptiness, and there was only one escape. I was 25 years old, a young man in the prime of his life, and utterly hopeless.

I’m 30 now. I survived — and, more than that, I’m happy. I’m getting married in October, I spend tons of time with my friends and family, and I’m thrilled with my career. The happiness my depression said was impossible is here, and it’s real.

My story isn’t everyone’s. I’m not a psychologist, and I can’t speak in universals about something as personal as depression. But what I can say is this: If you’re depressed, neither Bourdain’s fate nor Kate Spade’s has to be yours. You can get better.

Here’s how I did it:

 

I got help

For a long time after my depression got truly threatening, I didn’t talk about it. I went about living my life, trying to distract myself from what was happening. For a time, this seemed like it was working: When I started at Vox, the validation of a career I loved kept the sense of pointlessness at bay.

But this was a Band-Aid. As my time at Vox progressed and the job became a normal part of my life, depression started creeping back in. The same old fatalism permeated my thoughts.

It’s easy to see depression as a product of bad things happening to you — you lose a loved one, for example, and it ruins you. That is how it works for many people. But for me, depression wasn’t situational and couldn’t be fixed by professional or personal successes.

It was a war, and I was losing. It wasn’t until the summer of 2015, more than a year after the dark time began, that things started to turn around. And I know exactly why: I stopped hiding the way I felt, and clued in people who loved me about what was going on.

One of the many lies depression tells you is that you should feel ashamed of being its victim. That if you tell the people around you that you’re suffering, they’ll judge you or they won’t care. The best thing you can do is keep them from worrying and put on a brave face. I was really good at this: People would always tell me how happy I seemed on the outside, how bubbly and friendly I was, even when on the inside, I knew I wasn’t.

There was only one person who figured out that something was wrong: my mother. When I would go over to my parents’ house for dinner, she would ask me what was wrong. I always made up an excuse. But one day, I finally stopped lying and told my family. They listened, and told me that they loved me, and that I could get help if I needed it.

There’s a Catch-22 with depression: The most generally effective treatments are medication and therapy, but it takes some work to get yourself an appointment with a doctor or therapist (assuming you even have access to affordable mental health care in the first place). If you have serious depression, though, you’re convinced that any work is hopeless — you won’t try to find a therapist because your depression is telling you it won’t help anyway. The best treatment is precluded by the disease.

My sister — and I’ll never be able to repay her for this — did the research for me. She found me a therapist and connected us via email. Having someone else do the simplest work, writing an email, broke the Catch-22. I went to my first appointment in July 2015.

You have to open up

Therapy isn’t a panacea. It doesn’t help everyone, and even many people who do benefit wouldn’t say their depression has been “cured.” But that wasn’t the point for me. What my therapist did was help me manage my depression, and not just with medication. She taught me mental techniques, routines and habits of thinking that could check depression’s influence over my mind.

I won’t go into details of my therapy sessions. Some of them, like the specifics of our conversations about suicidal thoughts, are still too raw.

What is important, though, is that they helped. These tools helped lift the cloud of depression. It’s not a coincidence that in the second half of 2015, I went on my first date with the woman who will soon become my wife. Before therapy, I don’t think I was open enough to the idea that anyone could love me and be able to make a real relationship work.

The more I used therapy tools, the better I became at opening up and convincing myself that life was worth living. Between this self-care and the successful relationship it enabled, I was in a good enough place that I stopped needing regular therapy appointments altogether.

I don’t want you to think that my life is perfect. I still have problems. But they’re more mundane problems, like handling family finances on a journalist’s salary, rather than life-threatening ones, like suicidal thoughts. That seemed impossible three years ago.

The one thing I wish everyone could understand about depression is that it is a social disease. The part that makes suicide look like a way out is that you feel profoundly alone. This is a lie, but it can only be shown to be a lie through honesty with yourself and the people around you.

If you think someone in your life is depressed, ask them how they’re feeling and tell them you’re there if they need you. Maybe they’ll say they’re fine, and maybe they’re telling the truth. But if they aren’t, just keep showing them you’re there. And if they tell you they’re in trouble, then help.

And if you are suffering, you can get through this. Tell someone — anyone. The stigma around mental illness — it shut me up too, and it cost me dearly. There are people who care about you, who will do the work necessary to help you survive. All you have to do is ask.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. It’s available 24 hours a day, seven days a week; you should call if you’re having suicidal thoughts of any kind.

Leadership Manifesto

leader /’līdәr/ n: Anyone who holds her- or himself accountable for finding potential in people and processes.
WE WANT TO SHOW UP, WE WANT TO LEARN AND
WE WANT TO INSPIRE.
WE ARE HARDWIRED FOR CONNECTION, CURIOSITY, AND ENGAGEMENT.
WE CRAVE PURPOSE, AND WE HAVE A DEEP DESIRE TO CREATE AND CONTRIBUTE.
WE WANT TO TAKE RISKS,
EMBRACE OUR VULNERABILITIES, AND BE COURAGEOUS.
WHEN LEARNING AND WORKING ARE DEHUMANIZED –
WHEN YOU NO LONGER SEE US AND NO LONGER ENCOURAGE OUR DARING, OR WHEN YOU ONLY SEE WHAT WE PRODUCE OR HOW WE PERFORM – WE DISENGAGE AND TURN AWAY FROM THE VERY THINGS THAT THE WORLD NEEDS FROM US: OUR TALENT, OUR IDEAS, AND OUR PASSION.
W H A T W E A S K I S T H A T Y O U
ENGAGE WITH US, SHOW UP BESIDE US, AND LEARN FROM US.
FEEDBACK IS A FUNCTION OF RESPECT;
WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE HONEST CONVERSATIONS WITH US
ABOUT OUR STRENGTHS AND OUR OPPORTUNITIES FOR GROWTH, WE QUESTION OUR CONTRIBUTIONS AND YOUR COMMITMENT.
ABOVE ALL ELSE, WE ASK THAT YOU SHOW UP, LET YOURSELF BE SEEN, AND BE COURAGEOUS.
DARE GREATLY WITH US.

from Daring Greatly by Brené Brown Copyright © 2017 Brené Brown, LLC.

Hope, I have found you at last!

There once was a seed that lived for a long time just being a seed. It knew no other way of being, no other way doing, no other way of experiencing, just a seed never changing. It had many things done to it, many insults to its existence as a seed. The seed was unaware of living any other way. The seed was not alone, as it was amongst many other seeds. They were placed in confined spaces with just enough resources to survive as the seeds they were. The seeds were all bounced around from one confinement to another…packaged, boxed. Not going forward or backwards in life as there didn’t seem to be any other way of living; after all, being a seed is all they knew. Continue reading Hope, I have found you at last!

Manifesto of the Brave and Brokenhearted

By Brene Brown

There is no greater threat to the critics and cynics and fearmongers

than those of us who are willing to fall because we have learned how to rise.

With skinned knees and bruised hearts; we choose owning our stories of struggle,

over hiding, over hustling, over pretending.

When we deny our stories, they define us.

When we run from struggle, we are never free. So we turn toward truth and look it in the eye.

We will not be characters in our stories.

Not villains, not victims, not even heroes.

We are the authors of our lives. We write our own daring endings.

We craft love from heartbreak, compassion from shame,

grace from disappointment, courage from failure.

Showing up is our power.

Story is our way home. Truth is our song.

We are the brave and brokenhearted.

We are rising strong.

© 2017 Brené Brown, LLC.

 

 

The Man I am in My Heart

The man I am in my heart is the change I want to see in the world. I am a man of peace and kindness whose intention is to harm no one. A man that is genuine with no need to wear a mask…with no need to be anything other than myself. A man that believes in himself, his abilities, his skills, and his capacity to continue to learn. A man that possesses the innocent heart of a child before it has witnessed the evil ways of the world, felt the pain and suffering of loss, and had to endure the tragedies of life just to survive. A man that loves his family with the same empathy, compassion, loyalty, and forgiveness that they have so generously given to me. A man whose generous spirit loves unconditionally. A man whose handshake is as good as a signed contract. A man that can be trusted with the care of others, and counted on in both good times and tough times. A man whose words carry weight, purpose, meaning, and can be truly believed. A man of integrity in all his affairs and compassion for all those that suffer. A man that is honest, open-minded, and willing to do all that is necessary to leave this world better than I found it. A man whose behavior reflects his values and beliefs. But more than anything else, for without it I am nothing but a man waiting to die, the man in my heart embraces sobriety. I choose life so that I can feel deeper, share deeper, experience deeper, and love deeper.

Darryl Lambert~